Exploring the Dirty Side of Women's Health: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Exploring the Dirty Side of Women's Health

1st Edition

Edited by Mavis Kirkham


310 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780415383257
pub: 2006-12-07
Hardback: 9780415383240
pub: 2006-12-07
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203967348
pub: 2007-01-24
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In this book, a team of international contributors examine bodies, leakage and boundaries, illuminating the contradictions and dilemmas in women’s healthcare.

Using the concept of pollution, this book highlights how women and health issues are categorised, and health workers and women are confined to roles and places defined as socially appropriate. The book explores in-depth current and historical practices, such as:

  • childbirth and midwifery practice
  • policies and social practices around breastfeeding
  • gynaecological nursing, female incontinence and sexually transmitted infections
  • miscarriages and termination of pregnancy.

Addressing things out of place, from the idea of ‘dirty work’ to feeling ‘dirty’, from diagnoses that disrupt our self-image to beliefs and practices which undermine health service provision, this book uses the contradictions in our thinking around pollution and power to stimulate thinking around women’s health.

Table of Contents

1. Language and Status: The Disappearing and Reappearing ‘Midwife’ 2. Genetic Traits as Pollution: The Case of 'White English' Carriers of Sickle Cell/Thalassaemia Traits 3. Midwives: Defiling Women! Section 2: Leakage and Labelling 4. Containing the Leaking Body: Female Incontinence and Formal Health Care 5. Leaky Bodies and Boundaries: Older Women and Early Miscarriage 6. "I Just Felt Really Dirty": Women’s Responses to a Diagnosis of Chlamydial Infection Section 3: Breastfeeding as Pollution 7. ‘Resisting the Gaze’: The Subversive Nature of Breastfeeding 8. The Pollution of Objective Scientific Practice by Anecdotal Stories of Personal, Vicarious or Cultural Experience: The Denial of Embodied Knowledge 9. Not in Public Please: Breastfeeding as Dirty Work 10. "Milk for Africa and the Neighbourhood" but Socially Isolated 11. Breastfeeding: A Time for Caution Section 4: Midwives and Dirt 12. Birth Dirt 13. Pollution and Safety – Controls of a Secular World 14. Drained and Dumped On: The Generation and Accumulation of Emotional Toxic Waste in Community Midwifery Section 5: History: Containing Birth Pollution 15. A Clean Front Passage: Dirt, Douches and Disinfectants at St Helen’s Hospital, Wellington, New Zealand, 1907-1922 16. The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth: A Blessing in Disguise? Section 6: Dais 17. Rethinking ‘Pollution’— Understanding ‘Narak’ 18. Dais’ Work in Gujarat, India 19. The Dirt has to Come Away 20. Pollution and Women in Sickness, Health, Birth and Work

About the Editor

Mavis Kirkham is Professor of Midwifery at the University of Sheffield. Here current research interests are in why midwives leave the service, and why some of them stay. She has edited three other books in the field.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Allied Health Services / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies