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Sex and Medicine: Gender, Power and Authority in the Medical Profession Paperback – Jun 13 1998


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After interviewing many Australian and English women doctors, Rosemary Pringle concludes that the steady flow of women into previously all-male fields like surgery and anesthesiology has changed the medical landscape. And it's certainly true that a confluence of many social movements--including feminism and consumer advocacy--has encouraged doctors to practice a style of health care less patriarchal and more "feminine" in its allowance for collaboration and emotion. In Sex and Medicine, Pringle doesn't paint a monolithic picture of a shift in doctors' attitudes, though. The tales of outright discrimination shared by some of the women are harrowing. On the other hand, women physicians have their own objections to demands made by feminists determined to redress power imbalances written into doctor-patient scripts. Some obstetricians, for example, argue that pressuring women to endure the pain of natural childbirth is more misguided than empowering. "What we understand as 'natural' is very much a social construction," Pringle reminds us. "As Saul puts it, 'there is patently no precedent in nature or any other culture for a woman standing naked under a hot shower embracing her partner and sucking ice cubes.'" Although sometimes dry, Pringle's research offers solid insights into gender skirmishes in medical culture that affect health care in many Western countries. --Francesca Coltrera

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'This admirable study is informed by a theoretical underpinning, but its real strength lies in its fresh research, its feel for the pulse of the present, its crisp prose, and Pringle's bold refusal to bow to the old clichés. Sex and Medicine is essential reading for anyone concerned with where the medical profession is going'. The Times Higher Education Supplement

'... important and valuable contribution to our understanding of the ways in which a gendered health care division of labour has developed.' Medical History

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Many feminists have been profoundly suspicious of the medical profession, seeing it as serving the interests of contemporary patriarchy. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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