Run If You Want To!

When trying to untangle thorny social problems, people need to work within existing social institutions. As we all know, these institutions are flawed. They work for some and not for others. They produce intended and unintended consequences. Some of those consequences are positive, and others are negative. Inadequacies, inequities, and rewards are built into the system. But even though social institutions shape what individuals can do, individuals also influence the system. The interplay between these forces is the essence of status quo and social change.

Throughout the essays on this blog, I have argued strongly that pink ribbon culture needs to change, to build on the strengths and lessen the weaknesses. To see what needs to change, it is necessary to shine a light on the consequences that cause damage. Commercialization, trivialization, marginalization, isolation, objectification, infantalization, sexualization…all of these “TIONS” exist in what has become the dominant pink culture, but do they have any business being there?

Strong advocacy brought people together to support one another, share information, and empower patients to make informed decisions about their health. It also sought to influence the health system in ways that would promote access, options, equity, and quality care. It was built from a shared intention to make a difference in the lives of the diagnosed and to ultimately eradicate the disease. The “TIONS” have not only diverted our attention from these important goals, they have divided what had been a strong and more inclusive movement.

The “Go pink, or go home” sentiment that has emerged among some in pink culture has not only marginalized many of the diagnosed, it has disallowed adequate critique of the culture’s consequences. Whenever people ask me if I’m against the community events, I always reply, “Run if you want to! Just don’t run away from the complexities of breast cancer and advocacy that need deep and urgent attention.” Critique is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. We need it. Our institutions need it. The eradication of breast cancer depends upon it.

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1 comment to Run If You Want To!

  • I’ve been talking to a lot of people about this issue, particularly in this last month. Even from within my own circle there seems to be a sense of that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, it doesn’t matter how money is raised so long as it’s raised and it least having the pink visual gets people thinking or can start a conversation. But the problem is that no one seems to be digging deeper than that and truly questioning what “awareness” really means and where the money is really going. That is the danger of the “TIONS” as you so aptly put it. There has been a complete dumbing down of what a breast cancer diagnosis truly means, and you are so right when you say that our attention has been diverted by all of this pink noise. Society needs a wakeup call in the form of rational debate and critique so we can move forward in the fight, and I believe you may be leading that charge. Kudos to you.

"women urged to get screened because it might save their lives. But that’s only 1 possible outcome, and it’s the least likely one" @cragcrest

“Pink Ribbon Blues”

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"Seeing clearly through the pink haze" Toronto Sun

*Sad face*: Being happy does not help you live longer" New Scientist

How should we address breast cancer when norms continually change? The Guardian

Your Fun 'No Bra Day' Photos Are Overshadowing Terminal Breast Cancer Patients Broadly

Backlash against “pinkwashing” of breast cancer awareness campaigns BMJ

Breast Cancer to Rise 50 Percent by 2030? Hey, Not So Fast! Health News Review

Breast Cancer: The Flaws in the Cause

How to Make the Biggest Impact With Your Breast Cancer Donations Money

The Very Pink, Very Controversial Business of Breast Cancer Awareness Racked

NFL, Pink Ribbons Not Enough to Win over Women CNN

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Time to Debunk the Mammography Myth CNN

Breast Cancer: Awareness, Activism & Pinkwashing NPR Charlotte

Buying Pink Al Jazeera's The Stream Watch »

The Pink Backlash Orlando Sentinel

Why Jolie's Test Costs So Much CNN

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Angelina Jolie and the 'Breast Cancer Gene' KCRW

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer The New York Times Magazine.

The Story Behind the Pink Ribbon Campaign Sisters Talk Radio

WISH Interview Women's International Summit for Health

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Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients USA Today

The perils of pink The Daily

Komen pink campaign creates breast-cancer blues for some Dallas Morning News

A yellow flag for the NFL's pink New York Daily

Gayle Sulik named #7 in SharecareNow’s Top 10 Online Influencers in Breast Cancer

Breast cancer cancer causes so easily derailed Philly Inquirer

Komen Charity Under Microscope for Funding, Science Reuters

The Fight Against Cancer - And Abortion?

Susan G. Komen For the Cure defunds Planned Parenthood. In Deep with Angie Coiro

Amid Breast Cancer Month, Is there Pink Fatigue? NPR's All Things Considered

How is Breast Cancer Culture Undermining Women's Health? America’s Radio News Network

Pink Ribbon Culture and Breast Cancer The Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Big Business of Breast Cancer
Marie Claire

Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Crowd Out Other Diseases? Slate

Pink Inc. Has Many Starting to See Red The Sacramento Bee

Get Your Pink Off Ottawa Citizen

Komen Pink Ribbons Raise Green and Questions USA Today