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What Our Breasts Are Telling Us


What Our Breasts Are Telling Us

Sarah van Gelder

When Florence Williams was breastfeeding her infant daughter a decade ago, she started thinking more about the mechanics of her body. A longtime science and environmental journalist, Williams began to delve into the purpose and function of women’s breasts and to examine the chemicals that were reportedly found in breast milk. Her investigation would span years and would lead her to a dramatic step: testing her own breast milk and, later, having both herself and her young daughter evaluated for chemicals in their bodies.


The model of material science that drives much of modern life is essentially one that wishes to control, dominate, regulate, and direct nature and natural systems. This is true in everything from rerouting rivers to build dams to so-called disease treatments (which are largely the result of toxic exposures) treated with MORE toxic exposures. (For instance, Cancer is treated with chemicals and radiation and most of the time, after a short respite, the Cancer returns.)

In the same way that entire regions of the earth have been consigned “collateral damage,” places like the poisoned Niger Delta and parts of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico after the Maconda oil drill plunge wound, and Fukushima with its continuous stream of radiation, and now Detroit’s water… it seems that body parts and entire bodies of people (Syria, at the moment) are also being consigned “collateral damage” loss zones.

Instead of correcting the chemical overloads, big businesses are busy writing sweeping legislation that will be swept in through egregious treaties. And the rudiments of these trade pacts are such that environmental opposition to these same toxic chemicals will be rendered legally null and void.

What I’m saying is that HARM is the big business model. And rather than shift activity away from doing harm, a legion of new geneticists are on hand to lop off breasts under the specious presumption that Cancer is apt to form in them… so it’s better to just cut them off.

When I think about the thousands upon thousands of women walking around with one breast or no breasts due to the onslaught of chemicals drenching food, infecting water, and infusing the air we breathe, to me it’s more proof positive of that same Dominator Mindset that sees women and nature as things to use, abuse, dominate, and discard.

This is considered normal… a model to live by!

Until there is absolute respect for women and reverence for Mother Nature, the protocols used by material science, militarism, and big business will continue to DO harm.

How sick is it that people have to measure how many of upwards of 100 toxic chemicals are now in their bloodstreams, urine, and chief organs?

Just as the argument becomes labeling genetically modified foods rather than doing away with them, people will start measuring their body burdens. But what matters FAR more than that is shifting the model that looks to nature as a THING and allows arrogant men like Bill Gates and his Monsanto pals to destroy so much of what took so many eons for the Great Mother to construct.

Genetic engineering is no less dangerous than splitting the atom. In both instances, LIFE in its myriad wonders is endlessly destroyed… and it’s called progress! Development! The wonders of science! Better living through chemistry! Etc.


I’m all for woman’s health, and addressing the causes and improving treatments for, breast cancer, but what about men’s health? Why does the corporate media go on and on and on about pink ribbons and breast cancer - which now has an overall 5-year survival rate of 70 percent?

Every person save two that I’ve been acquainted with, or celebrities, who has died from cancer from my maternal grandfather to four co- workers in my current workplace to David Bowie to Alan Rickman and native American activist John Trudell and media activist Danny Schecter, all died from invariably (>99%)fatal pancreatic cancer which largely strikes men. There is almost no research going into this dreaded disease. Why? It tends to strike men - who are less pretty - and have less media-money-making potential than women.

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Yesterday was a milestone in the campaign to detoxify our culture’s attitude toward women’s breasts. NYTimes ran an article, with video, about #FreeTheNipple - and did not censor.


Yet another instance of the actual operation (as opposed to the pervasive and incessant propaganda) of the patriarchal, colonialist, extractivist, capitalist economic system.

Superb that the discussion in the Yes! Magazine interview is about the industrially induced environmental causes of cancer, and not about “the cure.”

Instead of the ubiquitous “Race For The Cure,” we would all be far better served by an annual fundraising “Race For The Pure,” that works to raise awareness, identify, and eliminate carcinogenic chemicals from every stage of industrial production (not just from finished consumer products). And, works to end the easy introduction (by profit-driven corporations) of new such chemicals into the industrial economy, through genuine and rigorous implementation of the precautionary principle.


Good points that your comment makes. When all is said and done I believe that we will find that cancer is largely the result of industrial pollutants in our midst and the solution is their elimination from our lives by the rigorous employment of the precautionary principle before such substances are deployed as you suggest.


Don’t forget diet.
It seems more likely that what we ingest daily has more effect on our health than industrial pollutants.


Your words resonate so true Siouxrose… thanks… it’s mind boggling what we have done to the Earth… and my biggest wound that I feel every day right now, is that we have all those suicide machine called, Nuclear Power Plants, dotting the Earth… I cannot fathom how a species can be so stupid… we succumb to the PTB, with out hardly a whimper. I went to that nuclear protest in 1982, in Manhattan. It ended at Central Park. It was said that there was a million people there… none of my friends would come with me, so I went alone, from Queens. I would have lost them any how, it was so crowded… But, I lost the push, I stopped paying attention… I succumbed… going about my life… keepin’ on keepin’ on…
That is what a lot of people I know do now… When I bring up issues, or should I say immediate threats, like nuclear power/weapons, AND CLIMATE CHANGE… .they say, “Well, we can’t dwell on the negatives, we have to take care of our families…” … the PTB, have them …hook, line and sinker…


I appreciate that my words resonate “Initiate,” but you no doubt understand that I abhor the use of ONE generic WE-frame since it takes what is enforced by dominators, and those willing to directly profit from systems of exploitation and attributes it equally to all human beings.

This narrow, once-size-fits-all narrative renders the work of environmentalists (some who have died for The Cause), truth tellers, and committed, principled activists INVISIBLE.

What has been done to the earth is the work of the Dominator Paradigm. Its 21st century face is that of Patriarchal Capitalism.

Is the woman raped the same as the rapist?

Is the tribe colonized the same as those doing the colonizing?

It’s time to provide narratives that speak honestly about actors and those acted upon: narratives that delineate causative agencies and place the spotlight on THEM.

I don’t want my comment repackaged to suit the generic “blame all equally/WE clause.”

That is a false rebranding of MY message.

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I had to look up what “MRA” means.

And the idea that pancreatic cancer is related to not knowing what a pancreas is just ridiculous. Nobody has ever seen an Ebola virus either, but that didn’t stop people from being very concerned about it.

An frankly, how is pointing out that health care research is disproportionately spent on woman’s issues - even though they have greater life expectancy - sexist? It has nothing to do with job opportunities or discrimination. It has to do with priorities.