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Making Women's Medicine Masculine: The Rise of Male Authority in Pre-Modern Gynaecology

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Making Women's Medicine Masculine challenges the common belief that prior to the eighteenth century men were never involved in any aspect of women's healthcare in Europe. Using sources ranging from the writings of the famous twelfth-century female practitioner, Trota of Salerno, all the way to the great tomes of Renaissance male physicians, and covering both medicine and s Making Women's Medicine Masculine challenges the common belief that prior to the eighteenth century men were never involved in any aspect of women's healthcare in Europe. Using sources ranging from the writings of the famous twelfth-century female practitioner, Trota of Salerno, all the way to the great tomes of Renaissance male physicians, and covering both medicine and surgery, this study demonstrates that men slowly established more and more authority in diagnosing and prescribing treatments for women's gynecological conditions (especially infertility) and even certain obstetrical conditions. Even if their "hands-on" knowledge of women's bodies was limited by contemporary mores, men were able to establish their increasing authority in this and all branches of medicine due to their greater access to literacy and the knowledge contained in books, whether in Latin or the vernacular. As Monica Green shows, while works written in French, Dutch, English, and Italian were sometimes addressed to women, nevertheless even these were often re-appropriated by men, both by practitioners who treated women nd by laymen interested to learn about the "secrets" of generation. While early in the period women were considered to have authoritative knowledge on women's conditions (hence the widespread influence of the alleged authoress "Trotula"), by the end of the period to be a woman was no longer an automatic qualification for either understanding or treating the conditions that most commonly afflicted the female sex--with implications of women's exclusion from production of knowledge on their own bodies extending to the present day.


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Making Women's Medicine Masculine challenges the common belief that prior to the eighteenth century men were never involved in any aspect of women's healthcare in Europe. Using sources ranging from the writings of the famous twelfth-century female practitioner, Trota of Salerno, all the way to the great tomes of Renaissance male physicians, and covering both medicine and s Making Women's Medicine Masculine challenges the common belief that prior to the eighteenth century men were never involved in any aspect of women's healthcare in Europe. Using sources ranging from the writings of the famous twelfth-century female practitioner, Trota of Salerno, all the way to the great tomes of Renaissance male physicians, and covering both medicine and surgery, this study demonstrates that men slowly established more and more authority in diagnosing and prescribing treatments for women's gynecological conditions (especially infertility) and even certain obstetrical conditions. Even if their "hands-on" knowledge of women's bodies was limited by contemporary mores, men were able to establish their increasing authority in this and all branches of medicine due to their greater access to literacy and the knowledge contained in books, whether in Latin or the vernacular. As Monica Green shows, while works written in French, Dutch, English, and Italian were sometimes addressed to women, nevertheless even these were often re-appropriated by men, both by practitioners who treated women nd by laymen interested to learn about the "secrets" of generation. While early in the period women were considered to have authoritative knowledge on women's conditions (hence the widespread influence of the alleged authoress "Trotula"), by the end of the period to be a woman was no longer an automatic qualification for either understanding or treating the conditions that most commonly afflicted the female sex--with implications of women's exclusion from production of knowledge on their own bodies extending to the present day.

34 review for Making Women's Medicine Masculine: The Rise of Male Authority in Pre-Modern Gynaecology

  1. 4 out of 5

    fausto

    An excellent and scholarly approach to the patriarchaly-constructucted medicine in the middle ages (specially in the late middle ages and the early renaissance). Unlike what you kinda expect from the title, the book is not about how women healers were kicked out by male doctor. Instead, is a history of the production of medical autoritative knowledge and how those books were related with the social construction of gender in the middle ages. The central theme of the book is the compendium "Trotula An excellent and scholarly approach to the patriarchaly-constructucted medicine in the middle ages (specially in the late middle ages and the early renaissance). Unlike what you kinda expect from the title, the book is not about how women healers were kicked out by male doctor. Instead, is a history of the production of medical autoritative knowledge and how those books were related with the social construction of gender in the middle ages. The central theme of the book is the compendium "Trotula", a three-part medical manual on gynecology. How "Trotula" (partly authored by a real medieval woman healer, Trota of Salerno) were recived, translated and influenced the gynecologycal writings of Europe (specially France, Italy, England, Germany and the Netherlands), and how this "female authored" book ended to be displaced by full male-authored books. Basically, the premise and whole theme of the book is how gynecology has been, in the western world at least, a male dominated and male-constructed field of knowledge. A reflection of a patriarchal society. I think is an excellent analysis of medieval women's history and culture.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Though I have some issues with the overall argument, Green makes a very insightful points. Her language skills are very impressive as is her ability to span time & region. I do not question that men were involved in women's medicine as early as the medieval period, but I question the extent to which they were -- especially when women are still handling the majority of birth (at least in England) by the end of the seventeenth century. Though I have some issues with the overall argument, Green makes a very insightful points. Her language skills are very impressive as is her ability to span time & region. I do not question that men were involved in women's medicine as early as the medieval period, but I question the extent to which they were -- especially when women are still handling the majority of birth (at least in England) by the end of the seventeenth century.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  4. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robin L.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Veronica S. Otero Rivera

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aiden Feltkamp

  8. 4 out of 5

    Danielle E.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Raelene

  10. 4 out of 5

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  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Philipp

  12. 4 out of 5

    Birdie123

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pavel

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emily Brown

  15. 5 out of 5

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  16. 5 out of 5

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  17. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie McGarrah

  18. 5 out of 5

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  19. 5 out of 5

    Adriana

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kasey

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pippi Bluestocking

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bookewyfe

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amy Loviska

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Wright

  25. 5 out of 5

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  26. 5 out of 5

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  27. 5 out of 5

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  28. 4 out of 5

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  29. 5 out of 5

    Deepa Nair

  30. 5 out of 5

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  31. 5 out of 5

    Matilda

  32. 4 out of 5

    rĂªveur d'art

  33. 5 out of 5

    Kat

  34. 4 out of 5

    Michael Wasson

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