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Health Studies
Krista Maxwell

HLTC02 WINTER 2013 Midterm Review Week 2: Women’s bodies and the social-historical construction of medical knowledge Lecture:  Construction of medical knowledge as a social process  Dialectical relationship between medical knowledge and social relations  According to Martin, have research advances in reproductive biology challenged the gendered stereotypes which animate earlier accounts?  What evidence does she present for her argument?  Martin writes “we have every reason to think the models biologists use to describe their data can have important social effects” (39).  What might be some of the social implications for the circulation of the discourse on reproductive biology which she describes?  Look up the case of US Republican Represenative Tom Aitken and his comments about "legitimate rape.“  How does this case relate to what Martin is writing about?  According to Lock and Kaufert, how do social contexts and medical histories help to explain how both medical and popular accounts of Kȏnenki in Japan differ from those of Menopause in North America?   Article: The Egg and the Sperm: How Science has constructed a Romance based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles by Emily Martin  Spermatogenesis as awe-inspiring, menstruation as failure  Female system as unproductive and wasteful  Gendered stereotypes provide basis for understanding egg and sperm “behaviour”  As biological research on reproduction proceeds, are such stereotypical representations of male and female systems being revised?  Despite new knowledge complicating the role of the egg, the sperm remains the “active” partner  Another stereotype emerges: the femme-fatale egg  Imparting human-like intentionality to the egg and sperm  Pushing back the imagined point of foetal viability to fertilization  Article: Menopause, Local Biologies and Cultures of Aging by Margaret Lock and Patricia Kaufert  Menopause & historical emergence of the medical fields of obstetrics and gynecology in Europe  Pharmaceutical industry & HRT  Surgical removal of ovaries (oophorectomy)  Research based on clinical rather than general populations of women  Medicalization of menopause linked to cost-saving in public health care  Late 19 C. origins linked with influence of German medical concept of climacteric  19 C Japanese medicine little surgery, physiologically rather than anatomically-focused  ANS rather than endocrinology central to kȏnenki  Anxieties re demographic shift focused more on social care than health care costs  Overall middle-aged Japanese women in better health cf. North American counterparts HLTC02 WINTER 2013 Major Themes/Points of Note Article by Emily Martin  Science is given this veneer of authencity, truth and unbiasedness HOWEVER this article examines and demonstrates the influence of culture on scientific discourse and rhetoric  Even science is not immune to cultural perceptions of the roles of males and females and ever present patriarchy that is a part of all societies  Sperms as agents of masculinity are ascribed fitting traits such as aggressive actors that attack/find/ the egg which are characterized as damsels in distress, passive, or even worse – femme fatales that take advantage of males and entrap them (women = virgin Mary or whore, males = always the prince charming or knight in shining armor)  However, the actual research on reproduction shows that the process is more INTERACTIVE than unidirectional, in spite of this evidence, later retellings and descriptions still subscribe to the traditional gender roles  Once again, the process of menstruation is viewed as failure process that is scrapping unused wasted scrap material  Male processes are remarked upon their prolific nature ALTHOUGH there is a greater percentage of sperm that are NOT used, a usual critique of the menstruation process  Hegemony of industrialization has all impacted the way in which biological processes are described - everything looked at like production lines or assembly lines  Sperm seen as making an existential decision that is also shown as being determ
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