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Pink Ribbons, Inc.

Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy

2008
Author:

Samantha King

Pink Ribbons, Inc.

Challenges the corporatization of the search for a breast cancer cure

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. Here, for the first time, King questions the effectiveness and legitimacy of privately funded efforts to stop the epidemic among American women. Highly revelatory—at times shocking—Pink Ribbons, Inc. challenges the commercialization of the breast cancer movement.

Breast cancer advocacy is being transformed from meaningful civic participation into purchasing products. To understand the personal, social, and political costs, read this book.

Barbara Brenner, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action

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.

Pink Ribbons, Inc. grapples with issues of gender and race in breast cancer campaigns of businesses such as the National Football League; recounts the legislative history behind the breast cancer awareness postage stamp—the first stamp in American history to raise funds for use outside the U.S. Postal Service; and reveals the cultural impact of activity-based fund-raising, such as the Race for the Cure. Throughout, King probes the profound implications of consumer-oriented philanthropy on how patients experience breast cancer, the research of the biomedical community, and the political and medical institutions that the breast cancer movement seeks to change.

Highly revelatory—at times shocking—Pink Ribbons, Inc. challenges the commercialization of the breast cancer movement, its place in U.S. culture, and its influence on ideas of good citizenship, responsible consumption, and generosity.

Pink Ribbons, Inc.

Samantha King is associate professor of physical and health education and women’s studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Pink Ribbons, Inc.

Breast cancer advocacy is being transformed from meaningful civic participation into purchasing products. To understand the personal, social, and political costs, read this book.

Barbara Brenner, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action

What happens when organizing for broad access to better health care is overshadowed by advertising and fundraising for medical research, or 'cause marketing' by major corporations? Samantha King provides a bracing case study of the shift from breast cancer activism to profiteering philanthropy in Pink Ribbons, Inc. She points us back toward the social movement we so urgently need.

Lisa Duggan, author of The Twilight of Equality? Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy

This well written and engaging book offers an important critique of ‘pink ribbon politics.’ Pink Ribbons, Inc. is wide-reaching and informative at the same time that it raises important questions and opens up possibilities for new research.

Mobilization

Makes ambitious connections between breast cancer philanthropy and global capitalism, between ‘survivorship’ and the legacy of decades of anti-feminist backlash.

LiP Magazine

Pink Ribbons adds insights on the roles played by neo-liberalism. King explains how, beyond being an all-too-frequent and still-too-lethal disease for many women, breast cancer is a corporate dream come true.

Herizons

Pink Ribbons, Inc. is a fascinating read for anyone whose life has been touched by breast cancer.

Curve

Samantha King’s relatively short but densely packed book clarifies how beyond being an all-too-frequent and still-too-lethal disease for many women, breast cancer is a corporate dream come true.

London Globe and Mail

As King explains in Pink Ribbons, Inc., women need publicly funded research into prevention, and investigation into environmental causes of breast cancer, a lot more than we need another pink ribbon to pin to our chests.

Ms. Magazine

A controversial new book by a Queen’s researcher has touched off a lively debate about the merits and value of the pink ribbon campaign and other corporate-sponsored ‘causes.’

Queen’s Alumni Review

King’s criticisms of breast-cancer philanthropy provide a new means of looking at one of our culture’s most celebrated causes. For anyone who has ever squirreled away yogurt lids for the cause, Pink Ribbons, Inc. is food for thought.

Bitch

Fascinating. The great virtue of King’s book is that it interprets the success of breast cancer fundraising not as an isolated phenomenon—a unique response to a unique disease—but rather as an expression of broader trends in contemporary philanthropy and politics. King’s deft and thoughtful interpretation of the pink ribbon phenomenon is an important wakeup call. Going against the grain, she takes a clear-eyed look at a trend that often seems to outshine the disease that put it on the map.

Women’s Review of Books

King challenges us to consider how the social history of breast cancer is constructed on a global scale. By placing the pink ribbon campaign and corporate philanthropy within the context of the spread of neoliberal politics, King asks us to reconsider the fate of social movements today. This book makes an important contribution to a number of fields, including gender studies, sociology, political science, policy studies, sport studies, and cultural studies. This book will be of interest to academics, graduate studies, and advanced undergraduates.

Gender & Society

This well-written critique of the ‘pink washing’ of America is full of insight and sure to make you think twice the next time you whip out your checkbook for a limited-edition pink waffle iron.

BUST Magazine

Highly revelatory—at times shocking—Pink Ribbons, Inc. challenges the commercialization of the breast cancer movement, its place in U.S. culture, and its influence on ideas of good citizenship, responsible consumption, and generosity.

Booklist

Pink Ribbons, Inc.

CLIP FROM NEW DOCUMENTARY BY LEA POOL

 

 

UMP blog: What's next——Pink Cigarettes for the Cure?

10/20/2010
With the annual pinkfest that marks October -- Breast Cancer Awareness Month -- once again in full swing, the time is ripe to review some of the most audacious pink ploys of 2010. After all, breast-cancer marketing is now a year-round industry.
KFC’s Pink Buckets for the Cure campaign, in partnership with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, was probably the year’s most prominent -- and scrutinized -- fundraiser. Launched in April 2010, opposition to this effort quickly sprung up, with one Facebook group asking what would be next: cigarettes for the cure?