Good ammunition for mandating sex- and gender-based differences in health professional education, research, and practice.

SEX MATTERS

HOW MALE-CENTRIC MEDICINE ENDANGERS WOMEN'S HEALTH AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

A physician urges women to speak out against the abuses of “male-centric” models in medical research and practice.

As McGregor, who co-founded the Sex and Gender Women’s Health Collaborative, cogently shows, women’s and men’s bodies are different not only in their sex organs, but in all their cells, brains, and the ways in which they metabolize drugs and experience disease and treatments. From her job as an emergency department physician in an urban trauma center and her teaching and research experience, she has amassed ample data and cases to prove her point. A woman with vague chest pain, fatigue, and nausea may be seen as emotionally overwrought and prescribed an anti-anxiety drug rather than perceived as a potential heart attack patient because women don’t experience the crushing chest pain and left arm pain that men do. Unfortunately, writes the author, the anxiety diagnosis is all too often the “go-to” choice, on par with a dismissive, “it’s all in your head.” In the early chapters, McGregor cites older studies such as a hormone replacement therapy trial that showed that the post-menopausal use of female hormones raised serious blood-clotting risks rather than preventing heart disease. The author is to be commended for showing how medicine has long skewed male and harmed women. Especially spot-in are the later chapters on implicit bias, treatment of women of color, and issues affecting trans individuals. The author concludes with to-do lists, questions women can ask their providers, and suggestions for advocacy roles to raise awareness of the issues.

Good ammunition for mandating sex- and gender-based differences in health professional education, research, and practice.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7382-4676-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Hachette Go

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A moving essay that should find its way into the hands of all students and teachers to provoke new conversation and...

WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS

An enchanting plea by the award-winning Nigerian novelist to channel anger about gender inequality into positive change.

Employing personal experience in her examination of “the specific and particular problem of gender,” National Book Critics Circle winner Adichie (Americanah, 2013, etc.) gently and effectively brings the argument about whether feminism is still relevant to an accessible level for all readers. An edited version of a 2012 TEDxEuston talk she delivered, this brief essay moves from the personal to the general. The author discusses how she was treated as a second-class citizen back home in Nigeria (walking into a hotel and being taken for a sex worker; shut out of even family meetings, in which only the male members participate) and suggests new ways of socialization for both girls and boys (e.g., teaching both to cook). Adichie assumes most of her readers are like her “brilliant, progressive” friend Louis, who insists that women were discriminated against in the past but that “[e]verything is fine now for women.” Yet when actively confronted by an instance of gender bias—the parking attendant thanked Louis for the tip, although Adichie had been the one to give it—Louis had to recognize that men still don’t recognize a woman’s full equality in society. The example from her childhood at school in Nigeria is perhaps the most poignant, demonstrating how insidious and entrenched gender bias is and how damaging it is to the tender psyches of young people: The primary teacher enforced an arbitrary rule (“she assumed it was obvious”) that the class monitor had to be a boy, even though the then-9-year-old author had earned the privilege by winning the highest grade in the class. Adichie makes her arguments quietly but skillfully.

A moving essay that should find its way into the hands of all students and teachers to provoke new conversation and awareness.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-91176-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Anchor

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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