From the bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed and a former editor in chief Mother Jones, this women’s history classic brilliantly uncovers the constraints imposed on women in the name of science.
Since the nineteenth century, professionals have been invoking scientific expertise to prescribe what women should do for their own good. Among the experts’ diagnoses and remedies: menstruation was an illness requiring seclusion; pregnancy, a disabling condition; and higher education, a threat to long-term health of the uterus. From clitoridectomies to tame women’s behavior in the nineteenth century to the censure of a generation of mothers as castrators in the 1950s, doctors have not hesitated to intervene in women’s sexual, emotional, and maternal lives. Even domesticity, the most popular prescription for a safe environment for women, spawned legions of “scientific” experts.
Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English has never lost faith in science itself, but insist that we hold those who interpret it to higher standards. Women are entering the medical and scientific professions in greater numbers but as recent research shows, experts continue to use pseudoscience to tell women how to live. For Her Own Good provides today’s readers with an indispensable dose of informed skepticism.