Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy
More than one million people in 2005 participated in the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure, the largest network of 5K runs in the world. Consumers thoughtfully choose products ranging from yogurt to cars, responding to the promise that these purchases will contribute to a cure for the disease. And hundreds of companies and organizations support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, founded by a pharmaceutical company in 1985 and now recognized annually by the president of the United States. What could be wrong with that?
In Pink Ribbons, Inc., Samantha King traces how breast cancer has been transformed from a stigmatized disease and individual tragedy to a market-driven industry of survivorship. In an unprecedented outpouring of philanthropy, corporations turn their formidable promotion machines on the curing of the disease while dwarfing public health prevention efforts and stifling the calls for investigation into why and how breast cancer affects such a vast number of people. Here, for the first time, King questions the effectiveness and legitimacy of privately funded efforts to stop the epidemic among American women.
High revelatory – at times shocking – Pink Ribbons, Inc. challenges the commercialization of the breast cancer movement, its place in the U.S. culture, and its influence on ideas of good citizenship, responsible consumption, and generosity.