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Manmade Breast Cancers (Paperback)
  • Manmade Breast Cancers (Paperback)

Manmade Breast Cancers (Paperback)

Paperback 208 Pages / Published: 23/01/2001
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A new understanding of humanity and feminism from the starting point of breast health is the ultimate goal of Zillah Eisenstein's political memoir of her family's experience with breast cancer. The well-known feminist author argues that politics always needs the personal, and that the personal is never enough on its own. Her return to the personal side of the political combines the two for a radicalized way of seeing, viewing, and knowing.

The author strives to bring together a critique of environmental damage and the health of women's bodies, gain perspective on the role race plays as a factor in breast cancers and in political agendas, link prevention and treatment, and connect individual support and political change.

Eisenstein was sixteen when her forty-five-year-old mother successfully battled breast cancer. Her two sisters, Sarah and Giah, were in their twenties when they were diagnosed, but neither of them survived. She received her own diagnosis when she was forty.

Despite her family history, however, Eisenstein rejects the simple argument that genes are simply determining, rather than liable to influence by external factors. She also questions the dominance of the theory that breast cancer is caused by high lifetime exposure to estrogen. Instead, she views breast cancer as an environmental disease, best understood in terms of ecological, racial, economic, and sexual influences on individual women. She uses the term "manmade" to indicate not only industrial carcinogens and other cultural causes, but also the male-dominated and -defined scientific practices of research and treatment.

In response, Manmade Breast Cancers offers a retelling of the meaning of breast cancer and a discussion of universal feminist issues about the body. The author says she writes "to discover a more just globe which will treasure the health of all of our bodies." The emotional depth and intellectual breadth of her argument adds new dimensions to how we understand breast cancer.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801487071
Number of pages: 208
Weight: 312 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 12 mm


"Excellent and well written and makes important contributions to the study of this urgent concern.... Eisenstein challenges us to ask questions, to look for a different perspective than we have had before."

-- June L. DeWeese, University of Wisconsin * Feminist Collections *

"This book is essential for all women's studies collections and should be seriously considered for all collections."

* Library Journal *

"A strength of this book is Eisenstein's consistent attention to social movement organizations, such as the Black Women's Health Project and the Women's Community Cancer Project. Too often, critiques of this sort leave readers feeling hopeless and overwhelmed.... Advanced undergraduates with a good grounding in contemporary critical and feminist theory, as well as graduate students and other scholars, will surely be engaged."

-- Julie Childers, Babson College * Gender and Society *

"Eisenstein has lost about as much to breast cancer as is possible.... Anyone else might be content to wear a pink ribbon and 'walk for the cure.' But Eisenstein... wants to kick the struggle up a notch. Bad genes don't cause breast cancer, she argues, any more than mammograms prevent it."

-- Barbara Ehrenreich * Ms. Magazine *

"Eisenstein is passionate about her ideas and offers many provocative theories that will engage readers interested in the politics of illness."

* Publishers Weekly *

"In Manmade Breast Cancers, Zillah Eisenstein weaves together a sensitive, moving, yet understated account of her family's considerable experience of breast cancer, with a brilliant critique of the cultural, scientific, and physical environments that produce 'manmade' breast cancers.... This book is a marvelous contribution to the literature on health, feminism, and theory. Eisenstein has developed a compelling theory and presented considerable evidence to support it."

-- Katherine M. Acosta, University of Nebraska-Lincoln * Contemporary Sociology *

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