Medical metaphors of women's bodies: Menstruation and menopause

E. Martin

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    Abstract

    Implicit, underlying imagery in medical descriptions of menstruation and menopause is exposed, beginning with 19th century views. Contemporary medical texts and teaching reveal two fundamental assumptions about women's bodies. First, they assume that female reproductive organs are organized as if they form a hierarchical, bureaucratic organization under centralized control. Given this assumption, menopause comes to be described negatively, as a process involving breakdown of central control. Second, they assume that women's bodies are predominantly for the purpose of production of desirable substances, primarily babies. Given this assumption, menstruation comes to be seen negatively, as a process involving failed production, waste products, and debris. Alternative imagery that works from our current understanding of physiology, but avoids denigration of women's bodies, is suggested.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)237-254
    Number of pages18
    JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
    Volume18
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1988

    Fingerprint

    menstruation
    menopause
    Metaphor
    Menstruation
    Menopause
    metaphor
    Imagery (Psychotherapy)
    Waste Products
    physiology
    baby
    Teaching
    organization

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health Policy
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Nursing(all)
    • Health(social science)
    • Health Professions(all)

    Cite this

    Medical metaphors of women's bodies : Menstruation and menopause. / Martin, E.

    In: International Journal of Health Services, Vol. 18, No. 2, 1988, p. 237-254.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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