Advertisement

Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 3–19 | Cite as

Looking at bodies: Insights and inquiries about DES-related cancer

  • Susan E. Bell
  • Roberta J. Apfel
Article

Abstract

This paper considers the symbolic and material meanings about gender and sexuality surrounding women's bodies. To do so, it interprets three vignettes from an ongoing study of the experiences of women who have had vaginal and cervical cancer, as a result of their prenatal exposure to DES (diethylstilbestrol), a synthetic estrogen prescribed to pregnant women to prevent miscarriage. Each vignette represents a different social and political context. The paper demonstrates how the different contexts construct meaning, and explores the implications of this for understanding the ambivalent, complicated, shifting, and contested meanings of women's bodies.

Keywords

Estrogen Pregnant Woman Cervical Cancer Social Psychology Social Issue 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Apfel, R. J. (1992). Long-term emotional effects of DES exposure. In National Institutes of Health, Office of Women's Health.Long-term effects of exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES). April 22–24. (pp. 60–62).Google Scholar
  2. (1984).To do no harm. DES and the dilemmas of modern medicine. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Ardener, S. (1987). A note on gender iconography: The vagina. In P. Caplan (Ed.),The cultural construction of sexuality (pp. 113–142). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Barnett, M. (1966). Vaginal awareness in the infancy and childhood of girls.The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. 14, 129–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bell, S. E. (1988). Becoming a political woman: The reconstruction and interpretation of experience through stories. In A. D. Todd and S. Fisher (Eds.).Gender and discourse: The power of talk (pp. 97–123). Norwood, N.J.: Ablex.Google Scholar
  6. (1989). Technology in medicine: Development, diffusion, and health policy. In H. E. Freeman and S. Levine (Eds.).Handbook of medical sociology, fourth edition (pp. 185–204). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Bennett, P. (1993). Critical clitoridectomy: female sexual imagery and feminist psychoanalytic theory.Signs 18:2, 235–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blum, L. M. (1993). Mothers, babies, and breastfeeding in late capitalist America: The shifting context of feminist theory.Feminist Studies. 19:2, 291–311.Google Scholar
  9. Boston Women's Health Book Collective. (1992).The new our bodies, ourselves. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  10. Braun, M. L. (1992). Educating the public about DES. Keynote Address. National Institutes of Health. Office of Women's Health.Long-term effects of exposure to diethystilbestrol (DES). April 22–24.Google Scholar
  11. Burger, E. (1981). Radical hysterectomy and vaginectomy for cancer. In D. G. Bullard and S. E. Knight (Eds.),Sexuality and physical disability: Personal perspectives (pp. 44–59). St. Louis: C.V. Mosby.Google Scholar
  12. Chicago, J. (1979).The dinner party. New York: Anchor Doubleday.Google Scholar
  13. (1982).Through the flower. New York: Anchor Doubleday.Google Scholar
  14. Deutsch, H. (1925). Psychology of women in relation to the functions of reproduction.International Journal of Psychoanalysis 6, 405–418.Google Scholar
  15. Elliot, P. (1991).From mastery to analysis: Theories of gender in psychoanalytic feminism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Foucault, M. (1978).The history of sexuality. Volume 1. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  17. Galenson, E. and Roiphe, H. (1976). Some suggested revisions concerning early female sexual development.Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Supplement 24, 29–48.Google Scholar
  18. Gordon, D. R. (1988). Tenacious assumptions in western medicine. In M. Lock and D. R. Gordon (Eds.).Biomedicine examined (pp. 19–56) Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  19. Haraway, D. (1988). Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective.Feminist Studies 14, 575–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Horney, K. (1933). The denial of the vagina.International Journal of Psychoanalysis 14, 57–70.Google Scholar
  21. Irigaray, L. (1991). This sex which is not one. In R. R. Warhol and D. Price Herndl (Eds.).Feminisms. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. (1980). When our lips speak together.Signs 6:11, 69–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jacobus, M., Fox Keller, E., Shuttleworth, S. (1990). Introduction. In M. Jacobus, E. F. Keller and S. Shuttleworth (Eds.),Body/Politics (pp. 1–10), New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Jones, E. (1935). Early female sexuality.International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 16, 263–273.Google Scholar
  25. Kalinich, L. J. (1993). On the sense of absence: a perspective on womanly issues.Psychoanalytic Quarterly LXII:2, 206–228.Google Scholar
  26. Lerner, H. F. (1977). Parental mislabeling of female genitals as a determinant of penis envy and learning inhibitions in women.Journal of American Psychoanalytic Association Supplement 24, 269–283.Google Scholar
  27. Lorber, J. (1994).Paradoxes of gender. New Haven, CT: Yale.Google Scholar
  28. Miller, J. B. (Ed.). (1973).Psychoanalysis and women. New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  29. . (1987).Toward a new psychology of women, 2nd ed. Boston: Beacom Press.Google Scholar
  30. Mishler, E. G. (1984).The discourse of medicine. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex.Google Scholar
  31. (1981). Viewpoint. In E. G. Mishler, L. R. AmaraSingham, S. T. Hauser, R. Liem, S. D. Osherson, and N. E. Waxler (Eds.).Social contexts of health, illness, and patient care. (pp. 1–23). New York: Cambridge.Google Scholar
  32. Mitchell, J. (1974).Psychoanalysis and feminism. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  33. National Institutes of Health. Office of Women's Health (1992).Long-term effects of exposure of diethylstilbestrol (DES). April 22–24.Google Scholar
  34. Parsons, T. (1951).The social system. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  35. Pynoos, R. S. (1993). The traumatic moment revisited: the origins of traumatic expectations in children, working draft. Unpublished ms.Google Scholar
  36. Richards, A. K. (1992). The influence of sphincter control and genital sensation on body image and gender identity in women.Psychoanalytic Quarterly LXI, pp. 331–351.Google Scholar
  37. Riessman, C. K. (1990).Divorce talk. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers.Google Scholar
  38. Rose, B. (1974). Vaginal iconology.New York Magazine, Feb. 11, 58–59.Google Scholar
  39. Rubinstein, L. (1992). Statistical considerations in DES cancer trials: Possibilities and limitations of small studies. In National Institutes of Health, Office of Women's Health.Long-term effects of exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES). April 22–24. (pp. 27–28).Google Scholar
  40. Scheper-Hughes, N. and Lock, M. M. (1987). The mindful body: A prolegomenon to future work in medical anthropology.Medical Anthropology Quarterly 1, 6–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shopper, M. (1979). The (re)discovery of the vagina and the importance of the menstrual tampon. In M. Sugar (Ed.),Female adolescent development (pp. 214–33), New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  42. Wolkstein, D. and Kramer, S. N. (1983).Inanna queen of heaven and earth. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  43. Wharton, J. T. (1992). Advances in primary treatment of vaginal clear cell cancer. In National Institutes of Health. Office of Women's Health.Long-term effects of exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES). April 22–24. (pp. 23–26).Google Scholar
  44. Zietlin, F. (1982). Cultic models of the female: rites of Dionysus and Demeter. American classical studies in honor of J. P. Vernant.Arethusa. 15(1 and 2).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan E. Bell
    • 1
  • Roberta J. Apfel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyBowdoin CollegeBrunswick
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryCambridge Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolCambridge

Personalised recommendations