GENDER GAP? DON'T BE HYSTERICAL
Gender Gap? Don't Be Hysterical
80 x 95”
In my piece entitled Gender Gap? Don’t Be Hysterical, I reflect on the research gap in medicine in regards to women’s health. Recently experiencing a science competition whereby this topic came to light, I was shocked by the disregard and disacknowledgement of this pertinent issue. In recent years I have explored the social aspects of sexism in our society in my artwork but never made the reach to one of my other passions; science and medicine. With this piece, I reflect on how medicine has been historically portrayed in works of art.
This piece is for all those impacted by the pre and post clinical gender-biased research gap. Medical history has left a dark mark on female and gender rights and equality to the core of sexism. Female health has been put on the sidelines, considered inferior. It is shameful that women EVEN TODAY must come and prove/plead they are sick and need help. Medical studies on women/females/those different ignored and deemed unimportant as they weren't the subjects that mattered. Historical gender exclusion has resulted in contemporary ignorance and endangerment. These gaping holes include the projection of the “Hysterical Mentality.” Even artistically portrayed, society has enforced this idea that women's emotions and thoughts are hysterics. This harmful stereotype renders back to hysterectomy, removing a woman's hysterics. Today’s dangerous impact involves women being labelled and diminished for this stereotype. We are in a current climate where women’s opinions and valid illness would be overlooked due to this perception of inferiority and overreaction.
Time and time again doctors and our medical workers have been dealt an incomplete toolset leaving them unequipped to handle and properly diagnose much of women’s health. As initiatives and organizations in women's health aim to fill the gap, our coinciding steps in our socialization need to disarm prejudice and sexism for the wellbeing of all that have been oppressed.
The most common depictions of medicine historically are of anatomy classes where male student physicians watch the male professor perform a lesson on a vulnerably portrayed female subject. Works I am implementing in my piece include Thomas Eakins’ The Agnew Clinic of a public mastectomy or André Brouillet’s A Clinical Lesson at the Salpêtrière studying a “hysterical woman.” Interestingly these two subject matters are still symbols and topics prominent today.
Taking these pieces as inspiration I hope to implement the subject matter of the glaring males, and glorified spectacles of women’s health, combining them with the imagery of Leonardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man and the Shroud of Turin. Combining these two powerful symbolic depictions I create the invisible and simultaneously nonexistent Vitruvian women behind four layers of thin plastic that have anatomical studies of overlooked female health subjects. These colour acrylic renderings stand out on the surface of the constant and present shroud of woman. These layers of health studies also are symbolic, mimicking the effects of an MRI scan. A system doctors use to discover the truth of the illness, in this case, the illness being the research field. Surrounding the Vitruvian shroud of woman inspired by A Clinical Lesson, the hysterical woman is sprawled across the power symbol emphasizing the knowledge, hysterics, and lack of action. Surrounding her are personal and gathered notation and commentary in medicine for gender as well as depictions of the spectators. I write a stream of conscious style on the board that explains all of the historical sexism and prejudices that shifted socialization and practices that would have developed proper equality for women. All are written by me but include quotations and reference to Hillary Clinton, Amy Westervelt’s article on “The medical research Gender Gap: How Excluding Women from Clinical Trials is Hurting our Health,” Gabrielle Jackson’s “The Female Problem: How Male Bias in Medical Trials Ruined Women’s Health,” Debra A. DeBruin’s “Justice and the Inclusion of Women in Clinical Studies: A Conceptual Framework”
With this powerfully packed symbolism piece, I aim to bring to light to the ignored topic affecting everyone and explore my personal passions.
WRITTEN REMARKS FOUND IN MY PIECE.
This piece is for all those impacted by the pre and post clinical gender-biased research gap. Medical history has left a dark mark on female and gender rights and equality to the core of sexism. Female health has been put on the sidelines, considered inferior. It is shameful that women EVEN TODAY must come and prove/plead they are sick and need help. Medical studies on women/females/those different ignored and deemed unimportant as they weren't the subjects that mattered. Historical gender exclusion has resulted in contemporary ignorance and endangerment.
Women are made for men. It is shameful that women EVEN TODAY must come and prove/plead they are sick and need help. History chose to purposely omit women from our core understanding and basis of medicine. They chose to rewrite history and fact. Anatomical drawings of women with exaggerated Large Hips and Small Brains to keep them away from education and only baby maker. Medical studies on women/females/those different ignored and deemed unimportant as they weren't the subjects that mattered. Time and time again females have been shunned for the medical issues they knew they had. Time and time again doctors just don't have answers for the symptoms that are valid. Hysteria narratives projected on women when no answers were found.
A hysteria that was birthed from female emotion. Hysteria that socially stereotypes and restricts women of then and today. Women should not have to beg for a system on their side. Women should not have to prove the validity of their discomfort/pain and then be dismissed for their gender says they are overreacting. We come from a history where hysterectomies were a method of removing the Hysteria or female madness. Feminization of Madness. Crazy Dysfunction of the Uterus. This will change. We left women to fulfill house duties instead of medicine. Women excluded from medical lessons. Anatomy. Due to its being too much for the weaker sex’s frail mind.
GENDER GAP? DONT BE HYSTERICAL. DISPROPORTIONATE INVESTIGATION.
HISTORICAL GENDER EXCLUSION =
AND MEDICAL IGNORANCE.
We are disadvantaged. Deliberate action to limit a sex’s success, power, and existence in medicine. I fear for when my mother goes to hospital stereotypes will ethically discriminate against health care. An ethicist will look and deem her "less essential" or "not as beneficial" in overall societal gain. Who will receive funding? Who will deem her more “saveable.” Where do our judgments originate? Are they stains of historical sexism?
KNOWLEDGE GAP FILLED WITH THE HYSTERIA NARRATIVE.
Today are in a society where basic needs like feminine products are expensed but condoms are made readily available. We go around our society anticipating fair medicine and an equal system everyone being treated on the same basis and expectations. Women are not considered whole. This idea needs to be addressed head-on and completely crumble. Our modern society holds similar values through different masks. Women not considered whole. Adam’s rib. Plain. Void, Empty, knowledge scrutiny. Binary division. Women of Body and Men of Mind. Our social “isms” and prejudices have leaked into our medical system. Boldly fill the gap. This is exigent. ENDANGERMENT. Binary division- women of body and men of mind.
I mourn the deaths related to this ignorance never admitted so- the people unknowingly killed by history’s lack of equality. We are in a society where funding is less. The choice for inequity remains. Too many women have died at the hands of an unprepared and ignorant system due to symptoms of not being “Textbook.” The book is incomplete. WOMEN SICK, DISMISSED, MISDIAGNOSED, IGNORED. An incomplete piece, not deserving of equal treatment? Today our new doctors/nurses/healthcare workers are not being given all the tools needed to treat everyone. This is an issue that impacts everyone but is little spoken about. Reflect, share. We are moving to a toolset of complete information with female research initiatives. Tests. Experiments. Groundwork. Vacant. Who will be impacted next? We will move to a future where gender discrimination and medical sexism will be no longer. How can we change the system?
Let everyone who sees this consider whom they know who is being affected by this history today. KNOWLEDGE. SCIENTIFIC BARRIERS.DISPROPORTIONATE DATA. Patriarchy. A system of health help designed to isolate, confuse, and exploit. The system has blood on their hands. This common occurrence must be recognized. A group burdened considered the burden. Neglected. Obey. Overlooked. TODAY’S ISSUE IS NOT A HOUSEHOLD TOPIC! Let it be that women’s rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all-HRC.
Be the change. Help the system grow.