Unexpected Alliances: Friendship and Agency in US Breast Cancer Theater

Marta Fernández-Morales


As theorists from different fields have proved, the hegemonic discourse has excluded women from the grammar of friendship, pitching them as rivals as a requisite for the survival of patriarchy. However, real life and cultural products provide evidence that women are capable of friendship, even in isolating contexts like life-threatening disease. With an interdisciplinary approach that bridges female illness and feminist friendship via drama, this paper analyzes three plays in which bonding in the context of breast cancer is placed center stage. Friendship is presented as a form of agency that allows for the construction of a network within which the cancer patient finds tools to resist the androcentric medical discourse and to recover her capacity to decide and act. This process echoes the philosophy of the Women’s Health and Breast Cancer movements in a productive feedback loop between social movements and their related cultural repertoires.

Keywords: theater; breast cancer; friendship; agency; empowerment; medical discourse

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