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


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.


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.


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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

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