Governing the Female Body

Gender, Health, and Networks of Power

Edited by Lori Reed & Paula Saukko

Subjects: Women's Studies, Medical Sociology, Post Structuralism, Feminist, Sociology Of Women
Paperback : 9781438429526, 316 pages, January 2010
Hardcover : 9781438429533, 316 pages, January 2010

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Table of contents

Governing the Female Body: Three Dimensions of Power
Paula Saukko & Lori Reed
1. “It’s Down to You”: Psychology, Magazine Culture, and Governing Female Bodies
Lisa Blackman
2. Beyond Pill Scares? Online Discussions on Genetic Thrombophilia and Gendered Contradictions of Personalised Medicine
Paula Saukko
3. Gender, Pathology, Spectacle: Internet Addiction and the Cultural Organization of “Healthy” Computer Use
Lori Reed
4. Pink Ribbons Inc. : The Emergence of Cause-Related Marketing and the Corporatization of the Breast Cancer Movement
Samantha King
5. Regulation through the Postfeminist Pharmacy: Promotional Discourse and Menstruation
Joshua Gunn & Mary Douglas Vavrus
6. Productive Bodies: Women, Work, and Depression
Kristin A. Swenson
7. “The Pill” in Puerto Rico and the Mainland United States: Negotiating Discourses of Risk and Decolonization
Laura Briggs
8. Biopolitical Media: Population, Communications International, and the Governing of Reproductive Health
Ronald Walter Greene & David Breshears
9. Disciplining the Ethnic Body: Latinidad, Hybridized Bodies, and Transnational Identity
Angharad N. Valdivia & Isabel Molina
10. “Doing What Comes Naturally . . . ” Negotiating Normality in Accounts of IVF-Failure
Karen Throsby
11. Feminism’s Sex Wars and the Limits of Governmentality
Barbara Mennel
12. Beyond XX and XY: Living Genomic Sex
Ingrid Holme

A feminist and Foucauldian analysis of a variety of emerging gendered discourses.


Drawing on Foucault's notion of governmentality, this collection explores relations between the intimate governance of bodies and political governance. The contributors offer empirically grounded yet theoretically sophisticated case studies showing how gendered, racialized, and socioeconomic agendas structure medical and scientific practices. Developing and utilizing a poststructuralist feminist framework, the chapters investigate emerging gendered discourses and practices around health, such as breast cancer charities, lifestyle genetic testing, new reproductive technologies, and the development and marketing of various psychotropic and hormonal drugs. This will be a key reader for anyone interested in the social implications of cutting edge medical technologies.

Lori Reed is an independent scholar living in Washington, DC. Paula Saukko is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. She is the author of The Anorexic Self: A Personal, Political Analysis of a Diagnostic Discourse, also published by SUNY Press, and Doing Research in Cultural Studies: An Introduction to Classical and New Methodological Approaches.


"This volume is an exciting exploration … [it] draws together a suitably diverse range of case studies to critically highlight the variety of ways in which gender and the female body are constituted as objects of knowledge and are also subject to government through discourses and practices related to health care … It demands that the gendered nature of power becomes subject to renewed critical scrutiny. " — Foucault Studies

"This book brings together an important range of contemporary topics and examines an understanding of women's bodies, governmentality, and power through different social processes and concepts with relevant examples … One of the strongest aspects of this book is its demonstration that women's bodies are subject to powerful discourses within the theaters of health and medicine in institutional settings as well as in everyday life. " — H-Net Reviews (H-Histsex)

"The essays in this collection argue for a richer understanding of personal choice and clearly point to the ways women's choices and understandings of body and 'self' are mitigated by social forces. This is an important work for scholars of women's studies and science and technology studies. " — April Herndon, Winona State University