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Governing the Female Body

Gender, Health, and Networks of Power

Lori Reed, Paula Saukko

Publication Year: 2010

A feminist and Foucauldian analysis of a variety of emerging gendered discourses. Drawing on Foucault’s notion of governmentality, this collection explores relations between the intimate governance of bodies and political governance. The contributors offer empirically grounded yet theoretically sophisticated case studies showing how gendered, racialized, and socioeconomic agendas structure medical and scientific practices. Developing and utilizing a poststructuralist feminist framework, the chapters investigate emerging gendered discourses and practices around health, such as breast cancer charities, lifestyle genetic testing, new reproductive technologies, and the development and marketing of various psychotropic and hormonal drugs. This will be a key reader for anyone interested in the social implications of cutting edge medical technologies.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page

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Introduction: Governing the Female Body Three Dimensions of Power

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pp. 1-16

In 1973 Boston Women’s Health Collective published the book Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women, which was to become second-wave feminism’s health manifesto. The book articulated a women-centered health agenda, drawing on expert, scientific, and medical knowledge as well as personal experience. It had its origins in the collective’s workshops that applied the consciousness-raising method...

Part I: Mediated Self-Health

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1 “It’s Down To You”: Psychology, Magazine Culture, and the Governing of Female Bodies

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pp. 19-39

“Applying the art of social conduct at the level on which the individual was constituted and regulated meant that power had to find a way into the minute and mundane reaches of the habits, desires, interests, and daily lives of individuals” (Cruikshank, 1999, p. 8). Throughout the last two centuries, particularly within the United States and United Kingdom, interrogations and understandings of the complex links between practices of self-help and arts of government...

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2 Beyond Pill Scares?: Online Discussion on Genetic Thrombophilia and Gendered Contradictions of Personalized Medicine

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pp. 40-58

In October 1995 all U.K. doctors received a letter from the Committee on the Safety of Medicines regarding a study that had identified a correlation between the use of third-generation oral contraceptives and the occurrence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which was widely reported in the media. Afterward the medical community, blaming the committee and sensationalist media...

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3 Gender, Pathology, Spectacle: Internet Addiction and the Cultural Organization of “Healthy” Computer Use

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pp. 59-82

In the late 1990s, a barrage of media reports declared that women were becoming uncontrollably addicted to the Internet and some were neglecting or even leaving their husbands and children as a result of their online obsession. Headlines described the strange phenomenon: "Internet Blamed for Neglect: Police Say Mother Addicted to Web" ...

Part II: Privatization and the Body Proper-ty

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4 Pink Ribbons Inc.: The Emergence of Cause-Related Marketing and the Corporatization of the Breast Cancer Movement

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pp. 85-111

It was very important for me, after my mastectomy, to develop and encourage my own internal sense of power. I needed to rally my energies in such a way as to image myself as a fighter resisting rather than as a passive victim suffering. At all times, it felt crucial to me that I make a conscious commitment to survival. It is physically important ...

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5 Regulation through Postfeminist Pharmacy: Promotional Discourse and Menstruation

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pp. 112-133

..."I'm a Remifemin-ist" exclaimed the happy and healthy looking African American woman speaking to us from the television screen. We couldn't believe what we were seeing: a woman unapologetically using the word feminist in mainstream television. However, our hopes diminished as quickly as they appeared. This was an advertisement for ...

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6 Productive Bodies: Women, Work, and Depression

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pp. 134-155

Depression as a modern phenomenon is culturally constructed primarily as a feminine malady. According to the Prozac Web site, the prime risk factors for depression include having low self-esteem, anxiety, and feeling that life is out of control, all qualities commonly associated with women.1 Another risk factor is the biological workings of the female body itself, including menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause...

Part III: Transnational Body Politics

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7 The Pill in Puerto Ricoand Mainl and United States: Negotiating Discourses of Risk and Decolonization

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pp. 159-185

In 1962, steroidal oral contraceptives, the various versions of the Pill, were at the center of a major controversy, one that was to have far-reaching effects. A growing number of reports cited blood-clot problems among women taking the Pill, including a number of fatalities. Some were calling for the Pill to be taken off the market. The ...

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8 Biopolitical Media: Population, Communications International and the Governing of Reproductive Health

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pp. 186-205

From July 1993 through the end of 1999, the tumultuous lives of Mkwaju and Tunu were the dramatic centerpiece of Twende na Wakati, an internationally acclaimed serial radio drama, broadcast twice weekly throughout Tanzania (Vaughan, Rogers, Singhal, & Swalehe, 2000, p. 86). Produced through the joint efforts of Population Communications International (PCI) and the government, business community, and academic institutions of Tanzania...

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9 Disciplining the Ethnic Body: Latinidad, Hybridized Bodies and Transnational Identities

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pp. 206-229

In recent years, as the number of Latina and Latinos living in the United States have increased, Latinidad, the cultural state and process of being, becoming, or appearing Latina or Latino, has become not only a widely culturally intelligible identity but also a culturally desirable ethnicity, style, and corporeal practice. Recently and historically, the ...

Part IV: Science, Nature and Gender

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10 “Doing What Comes Naturally . . .”: Negotiating Normality in Accounts of IVF Failure

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pp. 233-252

The new reproductive and genetic technologies constitute a broad and dynamic technosocial domain within which new social relations are produced. Implicit in this process of the forging of new relations is the production of new bodily norms and regulatory practices. Writing from a Foucauldian perspective about the new reproductive technology...

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11 Feminism’s Sex Wars and the Limits of Governmentality

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pp. 253-270

Governmentality, Michel Foucault’s (1978/2000) concept that enables us to theorize the linkage between governing and power, on the one hand, and power and subjectivity, on the other, has received limited reception by feminists, even though particularly the latter concern, the relation between gendered (state) power and gendered subjectivity, centrally shapes feminist projects...

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12 Beyond X-X and X-Y: Living Genomic Sex

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pp. 271-293

In this final chapter of Governing the Female Body, I reflect on how in a Foucauldian sense we are formed as sexed agents with particular capacities and possibilities of action (Dean, 2004, p. 29). Feminist theorists have been successful in problematizing the sex-gender and social-natural binaries, with biological knowledge playing a critical ...


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pp. 295-298


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pp. 299-310

E-ISBN-13: 9781438429540
E-ISBN-10: 1438429541
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438429533
Print-ISBN-10: 1438429533

Page Count: 316
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1