This is really an update to my Jan. 18 post in which I talked about a paper I was planning to write on the rhetoric in recent healthcare legislation. The semester is now over, the paper is written, and I’m annoyed–but not surprised–at the findings of my paper.
The paper, which I’m hoping to publish, was originally titled “Women and Health in Women’s Health: A Linguistics-based Analysis of How Online Spaces (De)Value Women.” That title will probably evolve, but what I did was run six online texts through concordance software to see where, how, and how often the keywords women and health were used. I also ended up looking at the use of some other words, too, including second-person pronouns.
The most interesting result I found was in the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The PPACA used the term woman exclusively in connection with reproduction, and the term women was most often used with reproductive terms as well. (I also looked at the CDC and NIH sites, CNN.com’s women’s health page, WebMD’s women’s health page, and The Bump.) I was able to draw some (I think) interesting conclusions from the data, the foremost of which is that the government seems to value/define women in terms of their reproductive abilities instead of as human beings. I’d like to write more about this, but I think I’ll do so at some point after I’ve sent this paper out and gotten some feedback …
As a sidenote, the software I used to do this analysis was Concorder Pro. I’ve heard of a number of other discourse and/or text analysis options and resources, which I’ll list here. I’d love to hear from anyone who has more options to add to the list.