I just read a fantastic essay from this Sunday’s New York Times about the impact that breast cancer Awareness (with a capital “A”) has had on victims of the disease. The author, Peggy Orenstein, herself a survivor, argues that the real experiences of real women with cancer are getting lost among all of the pink football cleats and teddy bears, and that the “sexualization” of breast cancer is doing more harm than good.
I wrote an essay for Harlot of the Arts (an online journal run by rhetoricians in our very own English Department) that touches on exactly the same themes, but with a focus on how they affect the relationship between patients and their doctors.
Whether or not you have any personal experience with breast cancer – whether or not you have breasts – you should check out these essays. They’re not really about breast cancer. They’re about the fact that your relationship to your health, your body, your doctor, even your loved ones can be manipulated in invisible but powerful ways. And that, my friends, is definitely something to be aware of.
John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University