Health, another territory of feminist struggle

There are revealing books, those that make us look at reality from another point of view, leaving an impression on readers that goes beyond a few moments of reflection.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
05 September 2023 Tuesday 10:31
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Health, another territory of feminist struggle

There are revealing books, those that make us look at reality from another point of view, leaving an impression on readers that goes beyond a few moments of reflection. This is the case of Health in the history of feminism. Speeches, vindications and practices of the researcher Belén Nogueiras García, published by Ediciones Complutense. This book, based on the strength of the author's work and knowledge, highlights the political dimension of health and how this field has been part of the trajectory of feminism throughout history.

In its pages, Nogueiras García shows to demonstrate and also to claim. The extensive research carried out by this specialist gives visibility and recognition to feminist genealogy and historical memory in health. But above all, its content is intended to shake the public's conscience. “Many ideas that we have today about women's health come from a historical process in which men, who had the power to elaborate concepts, considered that women's health was weak and labile by nature, by our biology ”, he assures.

This totally erroneous vision is still anchored in our society. As Nogueiras García defends, it is "an interested idea at the service of men who, after going through centuries of history, continues to hide in health theories and practices under the mantle of objectivity, and also in each and every one of them." , because it is part of the cultural baggage that we have acquired”. In fact, among many of the themes that surface in the book, readers will be surprised to see the relationship of health to systems of subservience and submission.

The text sheds light on the history of female healers, authentic forerunners and pioneers, and their expulsion from the practice of health care by men in the Middle Ages, who exclusively appropriated a professional field that until now had been occupied by women. . “We have to know that science and professional practice were built without women for centuries, which is why we say that science, and health sciences in particular, are androcentric and patriarchal, have sexist, scientific, and clinical biases,” explains the author. .

At all times, Nogueiras García speaks with a very broad knowledge of the facts. The researcher has actively participated in the women's movement for health, as a professional she has worked in institutional spaces for equality and was also co-founder of the Espacio de Salud Entre Nosotras, created by the Association of Women for Health in 1990. This book is the result of of her celebrated thesis, an investigation carried out after her work experience at the Women's Health Observatory.

In the first part of the publication, the author exposes the discourses, practices and vindications in the different periods of the development of feminist theory. In the second, critical feminist studies of the health sciences are collected, which highlight their androcentric perspective and support the need for feminist theory to be incorporated into health studies and disciplines and, furthermore, into professional and clinical practices. In the end, Nogueiras García systematizes the contributions that have been developed in Spain from 1975 to the present.

“Let us remember that until 1975, women lacked rights, and from the arrival of democracy a whole process of vindication and activism began, raising awareness among women, creating public health policies, training professionals ”, says the specialist. And it is in the latter that the author also wants to focus. “It is important that health professionals are aware of the feminist critique of science so that they develop critical thinking about the knowledge they have acquired,” she remarks.

For the author, "if professionals continue without a feminist perspective on health, they will not be able to understand where the discomforts and diseases that women bring to the health system come from." In this way, specialists could relate the health of their patients to the violence suffered by their partner or the overload of care, among other aspects, and thus avoid diagnoses that have nothing to do with reality or prescriptions for psychotropic drugs that do not they will help you.

Although, in general, society lacks training in feminism and some critical thinking about it, Nogueiras García is optimistic. “Without a doubt I see possibilities for change, feminism is transforming all areas of life and knowledge”, he declares. However, it would be useless to think that progress has been made at all. For the researcher "it is important to continue creating spaces for awareness, training and reflection." Because there are still many challenges to achieve and milestones to celebrate.