Emplotted Bodies: Breast Cancer, Feminism, and the Future

Emily Waples, University of Michigan
Vol. 32, No. 2/Vol. 33, No. 1 (Fall 2013/Spring 2014), 47-70

This essay examines postfeminist or third-wave ideologies in postmillenial breast cancer narratives by women under forty. Exploring the ways in which younger women are negotiating the project of embodying breast cancer, it engages the narratives and subjectivities that have been made available by—and since—second-wave feminism. While acknowledging the problematic and oft-misunderstood implementation of Audre Lorde’s untenable legacy, this essay critiques and resists the postfeminist backlash against “victim feminism” exemplified by projects like Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Cancer franchise. Ultimately, it aims to claim a space for the third wave to respond to breast cancer, seeking alternatives to the individual subjectivity of “survival” by championing cyberfeminist initiatives and community-based advocacy.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]