Empowering the body: the evolution of self-help in the women’s health movement

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Hannah Grace Dudley Shotwell (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Lisa Levenstein

Abstract: This dissertation is the first historical examination of the women’s health self-help movement in the late twentieth century. In the late 1960s, feminists across the country started to criticize and resist the constraints of male dominated healthcare controlled by physicians. They began forming self-help groups where they demystified their bodies by conducting their own physical examinations and reading medical literature. Some groups disseminated information by holding self-help presentations and publishing their findings. Others opened feminist health clinics and formed ongoing groups in which women conducted their own gynecological examinations and abortions, monitored their fertility, and performed donor sperm inseminations. Some self-help activists worked to influence mainstream healthcare by training medical students and holding inspections of hospitals and clinics. Women of color and indigenous women adapted self-help techniques to explore how systemic racism and colonialism shaped their mental and physical health and address problems in their communities such as fetal alcohol syndrome. In the 1990s, young women continued to spread information about self-help by creating underground publications called “zines.” By participating in the self-help movement, women around the United States created an alternative healthcare system that continues to shape healthcare today.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Feminism, Health, Healthcare, Self-help, Women
Women $x Health and hygiene
Women's health services
Feminism $x Health aspects
Womanism $x Health aspects
Self-care, Health
Alternative medicine

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