The Sexual Politics of Sickness

3 Questions x 33 pts/each = 99 pts (everyone gets an extra (1) point so that math is made easy!J)

Please be sure to answer all parts of each question and, when requested, to provide specific examples.

Please use 11 or 12pt. Times New Roman font and please 1.5 or double space for my eyes. Also, please remember to insert page numbers and a header with your full name as well as your section meeting day/time.

As a (very general) rule of thumb, folks should aim for approximately 2 pages (double-spaced) per prompt. More or less is okay, though I would caution that a one page or shorter response to any of the prompts is likely not fully addressing the questions posed.

Question #1

In Complaints and Disorders: The Sexual Politics of Sickness, Ehrenreich and English explore some of the ways in which social class intersects with race and gender with regard to assumptions, ideas, and actions within the 19th and 20th century U.S. medical professions.

Please provide a minimum of three examples that illustrate the biologically determinist assumptions and actions of the U.S. medical profession with regard to 1.) upper and upper-middle class women (3 examples) and 2.) lower-class and poor women (3 examples). In other words, please explain at least three ways the U.S. medical professions have explained and/or treated upper-class women and three ways the U.S. medical professions have explained and/or treated lower-class women from a biologically determinist standpoint. (Total of six examples).

 

Question #2

We’ve been reading Marge Piercy’s science fiction work: Woman on the Edge of Time throughout the semester. As you know, Piercy’s novel is centered around Connie and her experiences in and out of medical institutions. The novel toggles between a dystopic present-day reality and the future.

First: Do you find Piercy’s version of a possible future (the attitudes, behaviors, social structures, norms etc. found in the future she describes) compelling? That is, are there elements in Piercy’s imagined future that you find worth aiming for? Why or why not? On the contrary, are there elements of this future that you find less or not at all appealing? If yes, what and why?  If no, why not?

 

Second: Consider the various aspects of science, technology, medicine, etc. that we’ve discussed this semester, especially as they relate to gender and sex, sexuality, race, and socio-economic status/social class. Consider what you find most inspiring or promising and what you find most limited or problematic. Now, step in to Piercy’s shoes and imagine what science, technology, medicine etc. might look like in your preferred future. In other words, reflect on how and why science, technology, and/or medicine could be – from your perspective – made better going forward. Hint: you can approach this question in a broad sense, reflecting on large-scale social structures or institutions. On the other hand, some may find it helpful to narrow in on one particular aspect like reproduction. The choice is yours!

 

Question #3

One of the central concerns of feminist studies of science and technology involves persistently posing the questions: what counts as objective truth, who decides this, and on what basis are claims to truth legitimately made (or not)? During the last half of the semester in particular, we’ve explored the relationship between various understandings of expertise and their relationship to power, privilege, and the possibility of equality, justice, and democracy.

 

From your perspective, is there a fundamental tension between the existence of expertise and a society built around equality, justice and democracy? If so, why? If not, why not? In answering this question, please specify what you understand expertise to be. Please discuss a minimum of three distinct examples that speak to your answer. Any relevant course material is fine to use.

 

**DUE BY** Thursday December 17th by end of day on Blackboard.

Please note: late papers will lose 1/3 of a grade per day late. Good luck and have fun!!

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