This is one of those how-did-I-not-find-this-until-now books: Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman. Moran is irreverent and on-point, and I often laughed out loud while reading. She calls herself a “strident feminist” and puts forth several theories about feminism and sexism that I found pretty useful, such as:
- If you’re not sure whether something is a feminist issue, ask yourself if men are spending time worrying about it.
- Treating other people with courtesy goes a long way toward enacting a feminist world.
- Responding to sexism by noting that a person has been “uncivil” is often an in-roads to a better conversation.
In short, Moran articulates a feminism that is both persuasive and possible–and it’s fun!
Oh, and if you don’t follow her on Twitter, you’re missing out.
Several chapters in Man-Made Medicine: Women’s Health, Public Policy, and Reform highlight the importance of how both sex and gender affect medical research and understandings of embodiedness. This book takes on the longstanding conflation of women’s health with reproductive health—a frustrating and longstanding truth I mentioned in my last post. The following is perhaps my very favorite quote from this text: “Traditionally women as a group are defined by this reproductive potential. Usually ignored are the many ways that gender as a social reality gets into the body and transforms our biology” (p. 23). We have a lot more thinking to do about how social reality “gets into the body.”
This book also offers histories of medicine in the U.S. from a variety of perspectives, and it argues persuasively that we need to focus not only on the differences between women’s and men’s health, but also on the differences in health among these groups. Women are different from each other. Krieger and Fee argue persuasively for recognizing diversity in women: “[W]e are a mixed lot our gender roles and options shaped by history, culture, and deep divisions across class and color lines” (p. 23). This text also talks about how women’s occupational health was largely ignored for years–and remains understudied.
Moss, Kary L. (1996). Man-made Medicine: Women’s Health, Public Policy, and Reform. Durham: Duke UP.
A re-post of an article with some thought-provoking statements about the recent misogynist killing spree that I think resonate beyond this single situation … read the whole thing here. Selected quotes are below:
“To dismiss him as crazy is to ignore the obvious: he chose to attack women.”
“[T]he only way I have a right to approach women is the same way I approach men: as people and as individuals who like what they like and want what they want.”
“I’m saying the culture sucks and we need to change it.”
“Our hypermasculine culture sets unrealistic expectations and encourages men to see women as potential sex partners instead of as neighbors, co-workers, and friends. All too often it is deadly for women and it’s no friend of the vast majority of men.”
The 1997 text Women’s Health Research: A Medical and Policy Primerheralds women’s health research as a “new discipline” (p. 7), which I find both frightening and fascinating. Some diseases (osteoporosis, various thyroid conditions, affective disorders, just for a few examples) affect women in greater numbers than men, but studies do not reflect this. This is largely because women’s health has historically been conflated with reproductive health—as though the only part of a woman that is different from a man or important at all is her reproductive system. This conflation is both maddening and difficult to advocate against (for fear of diminishing the real importance of women’s reproductive health).
However, Paula Johnson does a decent job:
Click here to view this talk on TED’s page: http://www.ted.com/talks/paula_johnson_his_and_hers_healthcare
Further food for thought: Johnson and Fee (contributors to Women’s Health Research) point out that “Women have been excluded from health research for decades” despite policy statements that attempt to remedy this (p. 3). One reason women have been left out of research studies because of “researchers’ desire for homogeneous study populations … Women’s cyclical hormonal changes were thought to confound research results” (p. 14).
Haseltine, Florence, Lynne Beauregard, & Beverly Jacobson. (1997). Women’s Health Research: A Medical and Policy Primer. Washington, DC: Health International.