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constructing medical truths of women's bodies

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Dr.Carla Hustak

HIS245Y-1Y – Lecture 3 Constructing Medical ‘Truths’ of Women’s Bodies: Hotter Men, Colder Women, and the One-Sex Model -Constructing Gender, Scientific ‘Truth’, and the Practice of Medicine -Epistemology—a theory of knowledge as objective truth and the Body, Feminist Science Studies and the ‘Real’ -Science—facts, reason, rationality, also: sicnece is deepely intertwined with politics and social, science is procieved as objective truth as fact, but science has been used to enhance gender inequalities. -matter and the body and the idea of social construction—most of the things that we accept as objective truth has been created, its abstract. -Porous Boundaries of Religion, Natural Philosophy, Science, Magic Feminist Science Studies, History of Science and the ‘Real’—things that u see in the world, that bodies themselves transform, what is accepted as medical knowledge and medical treatment counts as medical treatment of the body is historical. 1) Medical ‘Truths’ reinforce gender power relations, the sexed body as constructed -what counts as a medical truth, how does the society construct reinforce gender inequality 2) Effects of Medical ‘Truths’ on gendered experience of the body -how u understand of the body based on the knowledge u have at the time 3)Medical Practice and the Female Body, the Social Context of how Medical ‘Truths’ shape historically specific societies -social context of medicin, who counts as a medical practitioner I. The Balanced Humoral Economy: Gendering Medicine, Creating the Sexed Body 1) Greek Philosophical Tradition, Hippocrates and Aristotle [women as failed men they are defective and they ended up as women as a result of something gone wrong] 2) Galenic Medicine—this is associated with the four humors. The male body is seen as the standard and the female body fails to measure up to. -Men: drier, hotter, effect of heat on sexual physiology, external sexual organs—men were seen as more intelligent bc heat rose to their brains. -Women: colder, wetter, effect of lack of heat on sexual physiology, internal sexual organs -Thomas Laqueur and the One-Sex Model—17 and 18 c—the two sex model emerges where they are seen as distinctive. Ancient Greek medical texts: -Plato: wandering womb, the Timaeus, sexual physiology explained in terms of marrow, semen, blood, brain, and vital soul -gendered meanings of sexual desire: women tied to reproduction -identification of women with womb, “hystere” -women as failed men bc they failed to live a good life in their previous life -Semen was produced through blood -the semen was located in the brain -women had an imbalance of sexual desire - Hippocrates: health as balance*, foetus (right side vs. left side) , pangenesis, seed menstrual regularity as health, diagnosis involves purgation (ie. Manipulation of fluids) and re- positioning uterus -Therapiies: recommended intercourse -Hippocrates: female health as focused on menstruation and uterus -medical treatments: purgation, re-positioning uterus, manipulating fluids Aristotle -Rational Animals -Animality tied to Human Anatomy -Male contributes ‘seed’ activem heat as a kind of refinery or purification process, refined blood to produce semen (seen as spirit-like) -female body as matter, passiv, cold (lacks purification or refinment of blood, menstration) Galenic Medicine -Greek physician, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) -GalenAsia Minor (modern-day Turkey) -Historian Joan Cadden, eclecticism of ideals -historian Joan Cadden, eclecticism of ideas -Gakeb draws Aristotle, Gakeb’s On Seed but formulates a two seed theory, female involved Sexual Anatomy, sexual desire located in various zones -Galen’s On Seed, two seed theory -sexual Anatomy, sexual desire located in liver, brain, testes, vessels -female semen seen as inferior -humoral theory: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, black bile -health as Balane of the 4 humors -blood, Phlem, yellow bule, black bile -corresponds with environmental factors of air, water, fire, earth complextion (or personality): sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, melancholy -medical treatments: bloot-letting -female health: mentruation male health: flow of semen Medieval Christianity and Medicine -Constantine the African, 11 century monk, On Coitus and On Human Nature -Benedictine monastery in southern italy -Salrno* medical schools, “women of Salerno”—the first medical school and women can learn to be drs -On Coitus and On Human Nature -Sexual Physiology: movement of fluids ‘windy spirit’—liver, heart, vessels, testicles --Gender of fetus: Richt side vs left side --Mapping sexual pleasure: Kidneys -sexual Physiology: merging of fluids, sexual desire: kidneys vs. navel Hildegard of Bingen on Physiology and Procreation: -interconnections of religion and medicine --book of compound medicine, genesis --adam and the serpent, humoral theory -Adam=Clay, earth and water Eve=composed from Adam, less tied to earth and water, weaker and more fragile but sharper and loftier mind, divided skulls --Advice of exercise and lifestyle -Man=actibe role, Woman=Vessel -Pregnancy linked to sexual desire -healthy vs unhealthy forms of sexual desire -maladies traced to lust: blindness -interconnections of religion and medicine --book of compound medicine, Adam=Clay, earth and water --Advice on exercise and lifestyle -melancholic She wrote this book-Genesis and the Book of Compound Medicine, Adam and Eve -Man/active, woman/passive (‘vessel’), pregnancy linked to sexual desire -healthy vs unhealthy forms of sexual desire -Maladies traced to lust: blindness, eye trouble -Female Humoral body: purgation of blood as balancing fluids Isidore of Serville on menstruation -Male bodies seen differently: pores, fluids, heat, production of hair. -balance of sexual desires, the sin of lust and illness, the prostitute’s body -masturbation causes male blindness Medical Views on Managing Humors through Purgation - menstruation as beneficial vs. contamination: Hildegard and Isidore of Seville -gendered purgation: male bodies, pores, fluids, heat, production of hair II. Lovesickness: Gender and Medical Categories 1) historical specificity of medical categories of disease and anatomy 2) Practical application of Galenic ideas 3)Links between medical classification and gendered experiences of the body (symptoms, functioning, health, illness, etc). in the middle ages it was associated with elite men, later tied to women -historical specificity of disease categories, medical practice, and the sexed body ‘Courtly Love’: The Making of Masculinity and Femininity -Relational Site of Gender Construction -Stakes of Performing Masculinity and Femininity in form of Bodily illness (Lovesick Sufferer) Lovesickness as Serious Malady -Galen: “I know men and women who burned in hot love. Depression and lack od sleep overcame them…” Lovesickness as Melancholy • Plato: “divine madness” Platonism—abstract truths like beauty and justice and beauty and forms; idealize the lover to the poi
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