Accurate, Responsible, Objective Wimmin’s Health

Guest Post by Katherine H., Eastern Washington University

One of the first contact points with feminism I had was through learning about wimmin’s health. I’ll refer to the topic in this way for the sake of simplicity, but I do recognize that some men menstruate and have other concerns related to having female anatomy. My main concerns were with menstruation and birth control, especially after I found the more mainstream methods of approaching those issues weren’t working for me. I was led to a lot of resources that might not have explicitly called themselves feminist, but were clearly promoting an approach that didn’t fall into the norm of “don’t touch it, don’t look at it, and definitely don’t try to understand it because the doctor always knows best.”

Feelings of frustration developed as I began noticing the ways wimmin were being deceived and pathologized by the people who were supposed to be helping them, and by society as a whole. The stories I read followed many of the same patterns, primarily wimmin who didn’t know about their bodies and were thus able to be misled in various ways or reasons, or wimmin who did know about their bodies but were discredited and disregarded by their health care providers.

And anyway, what benefit is there in providing education on how to manage their periods without disposable products, deal with yeast infections without antibiotic pills, keep track of their fertility, bring on late periods using natural methods, do kegels for reasons other than to “please your man,” etc. to the people who capitalize on the mystification surrounding these subjects?

In case it isn’t clear, I absolutely do not want to imply that anyone should go out and buy a menstrual cup, and a speculum, and throw away their birth control pills, and start using the fertility awareness method of birth control, and stop going to the doctor (if you already do) in order to escape the chains of oppression by big, bad, white male gynecologists or whatever you want to call this system. I also don’t want to imply that people who aren’t comfortable with their bodies are somehow not enlightened or open-minded enough, or should push past their discomfort or potential dysphoria for any reason.

What I do think is that having 1) a choice in how to respond to our bodies’ needs, and 2) sufficient, objective information with which to make that choice, is one of the most basic rights we should be afforded. Since that isn’t always the case, seeking out that information independently is a nice alternative and allows you to become educated enough to draw your own conclusions about what is right for you.

Below is a list of resources that have helped me and might help you out, too.

Websites:

All About my Vagina – http://myvag.net/blog/

Beautiful Cervix – http://www.beautifulcervix.com/

Scarleteen – http://www.scarleteen.com/

Vagina Verite – http://www.vaginaverite.com/

Pomegranate Health Collective – http://pomcollective.org/

Fertaware – http://www.fertaware.com/

VaginaPagina – http://community.livejournal.com/vaginapagina/

Menstrual Cups – http://menstrualcups.org/

Feminist Women’s Health Center – http://www.fwhc.org/

Women’s Health in Women’s Hands – http://www.womenshealthinwomenshands.org/

Our Bodies, Ourselves – http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/

Books/Zines: (most of these can be found online in .pdf format)

Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler

Deal With It! by Esther Drill, Rebecca Odes, and Heather McDonald

Natural Liberty: Rediscovering Self-Induced Abortion Methods by Sage-Femme Collective

Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio

Radical Menstruation – found on zinelibrary.info

Take Back Your Life – found on zinelibrary.info

Hotpantz – found on zinelibrary.info

5 thoughts on “Accurate, Responsible, Objective Wimmin’s Health

  1. Great resource list, Katie. I’d like to add one more: my friend Chris Bobel’s book about menstrual activism, New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation. It’s not a DIY women’s health book, but a fascinating analysis and ethnographic study of the connections between second- and third-wave feminism and menstrual activism and the women’s health movement. Chris is a brilliant writer and scholar.

  2. Katie! I really enjoyed this, and your links. I was feeling extremely pressured to find a new Gynecologist when I move back to Seattle. It was making me nervous, too, because I am just darn scared of the idea of a male doctor going anywhere near me with a speculum. I feel a little more confident and realize now that I can be choosy, take my time, and monitor my own health in the meantime! Thanks!

  3. Yay! Yes, I am definitely in the same boat re: gynecologists, and actually have been trying to find a midwife who does well wommin care here in Spokane – this is the first link that came up for me when I did a search for it, and it happens to be in Kirkland, so you might have better luck finding something like that over in Seattle if you’re interested. :)

    http://www.birthcenter.com/services_index.htm

  4. I feel as if today there are a lot of women that are not informed about their bodies, sexual intercourse, and the consequences of certain actions. There are so many options out there today to prevent pregnancy, diseases, and be well informed. This should be something that is more pressed upon school systems. From my opinion, my school did a good job at teaching about anatomy and how things work, but I don’t think the topic of sex and women’s health were focused on enough. It is a women’s right to be educated on these issues and have access to different methods that they chose. Another issue that I agree with is that it is up to the woman to make her own decision. It is her body; therefore no one else’s opinion should matter because they haven’t walked in their shoes. Abortion and the day after pill are examples of two things that are trying to be decided for women. The government and certain doctors are putting their religious beliefs in front of a woman’s right to choice when deciding if certain resources should be available. When talking about women worldwide and their issue for resources and choice, Lee (2011) states, “Despite their availability, access to these technologies worldwide is inequitable. Such inequity is in part a result in part of religious and ethical concerns, sociocultural stigma, and government legislation” (p. 259). In certain countries, information about menstruation, sex, and reproduction are not available to the women. This then leads to more disease, death, and complications in pregnancy. In order for women’s health and reproductive rights to be protected, all women need to receive equal education on their bodies and have access to resources.
    Lee, Janet. & Shaw, Susan. (2011). Women Worldwide: Transnational feminist perspectives on women. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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