Faculty Advisor

Lewin, Benjamin

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2013


Despite the unchanging and staggering statistics about breast cancer diagnosis and morality rates, the culture of breast cancer activism is characterized by cheeriness and optimism. This study illuminates a contradiction in visibility in breast cancer awareness: despite our heightened public awareness of the illness, the reality of women’s experiences is essentially invisible. Through literature on the sociology of emotions and guided by interviews with women from my experience as a participant in the Komen Foundation 3-Day walk, I identify three social mechanisms for the delegitimization of women’s voices: the gendered emotional responsibilities placed on women that deny them the emotional resources to care for themselves, the dismissal of women as “overly-emotional” and unreliable sources of information (even about themselves), and the implicit “feeling rules” (Hochschild 1983) that ultimately affect the lived emotions of breast cancer patients and survivors. This research situates this delegitimization in the broader reality of the profound silencing of women’s voices on a political and social level.


University of Puget Sound