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Barbara Ehrenreich

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Deirdre English

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Complaints & Disorders (Second Edition)

The Sexual Politics of Sickness
Barbara Ehrenreich & Deirdre English

Introduction by Susan Faludi

From prescribing the "rest cure" to diagnosing hysteria, the medical profession has consistently treated women as weak and pathological. Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English’s concise history of the sexual politics of medical practices shows how the biomedical rationale was used to justify sex discrimination throughout the culture, and how its vestiges are evident in abortion policy and other reproductive rights struggles today.

In this follow-up to Witches, Midwives, and Nurses, Barbara Ehrenrich and Deidre English look at the evolution of the medical view of the female sex and how it has been used to reinforce the social view of women. Beginning in the late 19th century, the fact of women's inferiority was "proven" through medical science. Today, the medical establishment still serves to give "scientific" justifications for the sexist values of our society. The point here is that medicine is not an objective, unbiased science; rather, it reflects and supports the prevailing social attitudes. In their quest for better healthcare, women need to address not only access to care, but also the prejudices which affect that care.

-- From The WomanSource Catalog & Review: Tools for Connecting the Community for Women; review by FGP

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