Readings Two: Friday September 24
Grewal & Kaplan Introductory Essay to Part One
- The categories that science creates are often seen as truths that cannot be challenged.
- The article focuses on the history of how categories of male and female (gender
categories) are created and used by scientists to fully understand the history of inequality.
o ―We aim to question how dominant ways of thinking about science have created
the ideas of differences between men and women today.‖
- Focus on Western science and its modes of thinking about and describing the world
- Chinese or Native American medicine seen as illegitimate in the Western world
(traditional/alternative medicine) while Western science is seen as modern/legitimate
- ―Although women have participated in science in many ways throughout time and
cultures, with Western science becoming more and more prominent, it‘s primary ideas
and methods of training and implementation became more politically charged and
o Male bodies believed to be completely different than female bodies.
o Position of women in society, as well as in the sciences or medicine became
increasingly marginal or subject to male control
- Science, or any field is produced by people—people are not neutral, objective, or
uninvested in what they do. Science tries to solve problems or questions that we have, but
problems or questions are cultural. They are filled with many agendas and purposes and
are not pure.
o Thus, we can interpret political and cultural struggles for control and power
through the rise of science and medicine. This is called biopower
o Biopower: the way biology and medicine are used by governments and other
social interests to further the goals of those who are in power.
- In Europe and USA, the rising belief in scientific explanations that proposed biological
differences as the foundation of racial and sexual difference placed different women in
new kinds of unequal relationships.
- Malthusianism argued that increasing population was the greatest threat to Western
- Normative feminism – associated with qualities that supported the two-sex model of
biological differences. Normal women were less intelligent, less assertive, etc
- Nonnormative feminism –associated with perversion, marginality, and nonreproductive
sex and increasingly came to be seen as a pathology—something to be cured by
- Margaret Sanger – mother of the birth control movement
- Over time ―birth control‖ became ―population control‖ – this attempted to restrain the
sexuality and reproduction of poor people, non-whites and colonized peoples.
- For a poor country to become ―modern‖ they must show that population is under control
Martin: The Egg And The Sperm
- the reading shows how scientific knowledge reflects biases against women that are shared
by the societies in which this knowledge is produced.
- Menstruation depicted as a failure
o ―the ‗debris‘ of the uterine lining, the death of tissue‖. Implying that a system has
gone awry, making products of no use, wasted, scrap, etc
- Male reproductive physiology is depicted as strong, dominant, magnificent
o ―whereas the female only sheds one gamete a month, hundreds of millions of
sperm are produced each day.‖ - Far from being produced, women are born with their eggs intact, merely sitting on the
shelf, slowly degenerating and aging like overstocked inventory
o The male, who continuously pr