Why am I sick ?

“If I Get Sick, Is It My Fault? Or Is It The System?” was discussed at this year’s Humanities conference

By Jennifer Hughes

English teacher Eileen Manion introduced the question “If I Get Sick, Is It My Fault? Or Is It the System?” which looked into the issues and the feminist critique of medicine last Thursday as part of the Humanities Conference in Conrod’s (2F.4).

“Attitudes towards doctors and the medical system in general were a little bit different when I was growing up,” Manion started, who is on leave this term but otherwise teaches a BXE English course called “0How do you feel?”

“I grew up in the the 1940s, 1950s and that was the period when the heroic model of medical research and medicine was etymological (gender-based). Doctors were paternal, authoritative figures, and it seemed the concerns about illness were on the way out. We had just experienced the invention of penicillin and other antibiotics for infectious diseases. However, I think now we see things a little bit differently. In some senses it’s part of a public discourse on medicine,” she continued.

At the conference Manion discussed the aspects of the feminist critique of medicine. As well as the other factors and stories which have affected the attitudes on the medical system. She continued with the responses and changes in medicine within the last decade. Manion finished off explaining the medical issues today that require critical thinking.

“The feminist critique of the medical system of the late ‘60s, early ‘70s in some sense contributed something to a change in our view of medicine of what it did and what it can do,” Manion said. At that time “the traditional male medical model focused on curing disease rather than keeping people well,” while feminists wanted to incorporate alternate therapies or holistic health care practices, such as herbal medicine and massage into total wellness.

Manion went on to talk about the other factors which affected attitudes of the medical system, such as the stories about medical research on poor and vulnerable populations, stories about medical company scams, and the appearances of various new diseases.

“I would like to leave you with the idea that feminism still has a role to play in critical thinking about medical issues,” Manion said.


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