Essays on Women, Medicine and Health

Essays on Women, Medicine and Health

Essays on Women, Medicine and Health

Essays on Women, Medicine and Health

Synopsis

This collection of essays brings together the best of Oakley's work on the sociology of women's health. It focuses on four main themes - divisions of labour, motherhood, technology and methodology - and considers what it is to be women facing the often impersonal world of twentieth-century medicine.

Excerpt

Essays on Women, Medicine and Health is a collection of essays, lectures and papers written between 1981 and 1992 in the interstices of a life variously committed to the pursuit of research, the promotion of a feminist social science, the writing of alternative versions of (her)story in the form of what is called 'fiction', and the usual labours that women perform in the maintenance of a home and the care and surveillance of children -- what is called 'motherhood'.

There are a total of eighteen chapters in this collection. Eight were previously published by Basil Blackwell in 1986 in a volume called Telling the Truth about Jerusalem. Both that volume and this are stitching-together kinds of exercises; I suppose the appropriate domestic metaphor would be that of a patchwork quilt. Within the pattern of the quilt, there are favourite, well-worn and faded pieces, as well as the brighter colours of more recently-produced materials. But in the juxtaposition of the two, the aim is to create an overall impression in which the dissonances and similarities between the different pieces shade into one another to produce a vision that greets the eye as concretely whole.

Certain themes sew together both this and the previous collection. In Essays on Women, Medicine and Health, these are represented as the titles of the main sections: divisions of labour, motherhood, technology and methodology. Each of the chapters included speaks to the fabric and dialectic of women's particular construction in modern culture: the second sex, the other, an oppressed minority despite being a statistical majority; the mother, the carer, the one whose strength to society manifests itself psychically as weakness, as an overbred sensitivity to others, as an inability to take the self . . .

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