- Medicine- discourse where self and other comes into play
- Hippocrates "Airs and Waters"- scientific inquiry derailed by cultural biases. Nomos
derailed attempts at understanding physis. Tried to ground nomos in physis BUT his
interpretation of physis was coloured by nomos.
- These medical authors were trying to find the underlying understanding of physis but
their attempts were always shaped by nomos.
- Sex vs. gender- sex might already be affected by nomos, socialization etc.
- Hippocrates- From Asia Minor
- Aristotle- Greek living in Athens 4th C (Classical); student of Plato
- Galen 2nd C AD- From Asia Minor, like Hippocrates. BUT by this time the rea was
uder Roman control.
Thus, medical writers wrote over long chronological span. Despite this they had a
consistent view of the female body.
Some of their ideas were not incompatable with gynecology today
eg. The idea that a healthy woman in a reproductively healthy woman. For
many women, even today, their primary care physicians are ob/gyns.
One idea that is typical of these medical texts is that the male body is the norm. They
female body is the other.
In the medical texts, as was true of our society even a few decades ago, the male
doctor was concerned with the female patient. The male self as the observer and the
female other as the observed. Can be related to the ethnographer Herodotus as the
observer and the barbarian as object of inquiry and science.
Also seen in the texts- men are the creative or generative and women are the passive.
Both men and women have semen, but female semen in inactive and need male
semen to work.
Women are strange, alien creatures that the male authors are trying to make sense of
for a male audience.
eg. Hippocrated trying to explain labour- trying to get an olive pit sideways
through a wine bottle...
eg. that women cannot tell the doctor what is wrong with them. Also- the point
is stressed that female ailments are not healed like men's ailments and their
diseases cannot be treated as males would be.
Anecdote about pregnant dancing girl: Here, Hippocrates' reactions are telling. He
does not appear to care at all about the patient's health or future; she is a data point
so he may prove his theories. We also get a little nugget of information suggeting
that women shared a lot of intimate details with each other. The girl's mistress had
intimate knowledge about whether or not "seed stayed in the womb." - idea of examining another man's wife- medical texts show that doctors did
analyse women in cases of serious problems, usually related to childbirth. It has
also be mentioned that a female family member or slave would do things like
"check the womb" of the female patient.
- Hippocratic Oath- Hippocrates talked of moral code fo entering other people's
houses. A doctor should only aim to heal the sick. He should not take advantage
of male or female patients. He should not divulge household secrets.
Soranus- Training Manual for Midwives- "The Gynecology"
- Characteristics of a good midwife- "literate, strong, intelligent and sober with
- How to take women through labour or even how to induce miscarriage. Says
that miscarriage/abortion should only be done if the mother's life is at stake and
not because of vanity. Here we see a male perspective on women's Pandora-
- Differences between men and women
Hot/Cold dichotomy, even though there was controversy over which was which
Genitals on the inside vs the outside- Galen
- idea that men and women were the same, but women had their parts on the
inside. The fact that female genetalia was on the inside were likened to the blind
eyes of the mole. Women have all the body parts of men, but they're
undeveloped, mutilated, lesser.
- DEFINING differenc