Prescribed Norms: Women and Health in Canada and the United States since 1800
In her meticulously researched history, Cheryl Krasnick Warsh challenges readers to rethink the norms of women's health and treatment in Canada and the United States since 1800. Prescribed Norms details a disturbing socio-medical history that limits and discounts women's own knowledge of their bodies and their health.
By comparing ritual practices of various cultures, Prescribed Norms demonstrates how looking at women's health through a masculine lens has distorted current medical understandings of menstruation, menopause, and childbirth, and has often led to faulty medical conclusions. Warsh also illuminates how the shift from informal to more formal, institutionalized treatment impacts both women's health care and women's roles as health practitioners.
Always accessible and occasionally irreverent, Warsh's narrative provides readers with multiple foundations for reconsidering women's health and women's health care.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 320 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
ReviewsThe inclusion of a variety of women's experiences and the question of difference make this book a useful tool for teaching undergraduate women's health courses. Warsh's attention to the contemporary dimensions of women's health and recent debates around the HPV vaccine and alternative health practices is likewise a valuable teaching tool, as is her attention to discrepancies and limitations of historical sources on women's health. The book points to a need for future research on the expansion of health care and wellness practices in the late 20th century, including the rise of eating disorders and the physical fitness movement, as the very definition of health and normality continues to transform.
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History
For not only tackling a gargantuan body of secondary literature, but then wrestling it into a sweeping synthesis as insightful and delightful as this, Cheryl Krasnick Warsh deserves a medal... maybe even two. This book will be particularly welcomed by teachers of the history of health, women's history, and women's studies.
The elegant scholarship, cogent arguments, and wit of Prescribed Norms provide illuminating perspectives that broaden the histories of women, gender, medicine, science, and technology.
Canadian Historical Review
In a tidy 300-or-so pages, Warsh lights candles into the darker corners of women’s medical history, the areas whose historically-perceived impoliteness made even medical professionals bristle.
Prescribed Norms is an impressively wide-ranging and witty study of over 200 years of women's health care and women's roles as doctors and nurses in Canada and the United States. As a contextual bonus, other parts of the world are added to the mix. Based on an exhaustive examination of the secondary literature, Cheryl Warsh presents readers with the complex reactions to and perceptions of women's bodies—awe and disgust, power and fragility—that dominate our past and present. Underlying her study is the challenge to 'embrace the chaos' of our bodily being and the need for medicine to do so as well.
Wendy Mitchinson, University of Waterloo
Bodies are a source of anxiety, pleasure, and pain. Prescribed Norms tells us just what this has meant for North American women over the past 200 years. No one but Cheryl Krasnick Warsh could be so compelling in explaining why girls and women of every age and in every community in Canada and the United States should have the power to control their own bodies. We owe her a debt of thanks.
Veronica Strong-Boag, University of British Columbia
Author InformationCheryl Krasnick Warsh is Professor of History at Vancouver Island University and Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History / Bulletin canadien d'histoire de la medecine.
Table of contents
List of Illustrations
Part I: Rituals
1. Wendy's Last Night in the Nursery: The "Disease" of Menstruation and Its Treatment
2. Gladys, Take Your Medicine! The Culture and Business of Menopause
Part II: Technologies
3. Traditional Childbirth: Mothers and Babies
4. Modern Childbirth: Mothers and Doctors
5. Future Childbirth: Doctors and Babies
Part III: Professions
6. Networks of Support, Networks of Opposition: The Medical Education of Women
7. Nursing: The Science of Womanly Arts
Epilogue: The Case for Chaos
Subjects and Courses