(This event is now over – see here for issues raised in the debate)
Tuesday 5th March 7-10pm: Komedia Brighton
The NGender Seminar Series organisers have has teamed up with Dr Ana Porroche-Escudero (University of Sussex) and Dr Grazia de Michelle to co-host a special session on Breast Cancer Awareness to celebrate International Women’s Day. The event will involve the screening of documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. followed by questions and answers between the public and an expert panel on breast cancer.
A powerful and though-provoking documentary film, Pink Ribbons, Inc. dissects the reality of breast cancer philanthropy. Breast cancer campaigns are all around us: events like marathons and bake sales are regularly organised to raise money for breast cancer charities. More and more companies have a ‘pink ribbon product’ – a teddy, a perfume, a bra – whose sale will result in a donation to such charities.
But this “cult of pink kitsch” is being criticised for promoting a message of cheerful celebration and that the fight against the disease is being won. It paints breast cancer as a ‘sexy’ disease which for many survivors it is anything but. In the name of cure and prevention, millions of dollars are siphoned into branding and funding campaigns that exaggerate the preventative and therapeutic effect of screening, genetic testing, treatments, breast self-examination and everyday control of one’s lifestyle, despite the fact that the efficacy of these techniques has been challenged by health professionals. Many of these campaigns obscure the reality and facts of breast cancer: more and more women are diagnosed each year; they are younger; many thousands are still dying; the cruel “slash, burn and poison” approach to treatment of 40 years ago is still the rule. There is also strong a link between breast cancer and low exposure to toxins and hormone disruptors both at home and at work which is ignored by the media, and the companies and officials who should be responsible for making our environment safer for women.
So, the questions that this event aims to raise are: who is really benefiting from all this pink paraphernalia? Where is the truth about women’s health and well-being in the breast cancer discourse? What about women’s rights to accurate and comprehensive information about their health and treatment options? Who is responsible for keeping this big breast cancer pink ribbon machinery alive? And who is responsible for regulating it?
This event will be open for the public to debate with our international expert panel. Confirmed speakers are Helen Lynn (Facilitator at Alliance for Cancer Prevention), Dr Grazia de Michelle (breast cancer patient and advocate), and Cathie Malhouitre (breast cancer survivor, art director, designer, blogger) and founder of Au sein de sa différence). Professor Gillian Bendelow (University of Sussex) will chair the session. We want to spur on discussion that fosters real awareness about the system-wide factors that make breast cancer an individual experience, a social problem, and a health epidemic. We want this event to be an open space in a non-medical environment to stimulate creative discussion for how we may change the way we talk about and act upon breast cancer.
This event is part funded by the University of Sussex Doctoral School Researcher Led Initiative Fund.