As we watch another agonizing attempt to shift the future of healthcare in the United States, we are reminded of the longevity of this crisis, and how firmly entrenched we are in a system that doesn't work. Witches, Midwives, and Nurses, first published by the Feminist Press in 1973, is an essential book about the corruption of the medical establishment and its historic roots in witch hunters. In this new edition, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English have written an entirely new chapter that delves into the current fascination with and controversies about witches, exposing our fears and fantasies. They build on their classic expos√© on the demonization of women healers and the political and economic monopolization ofmedicine. This quick history brings us up-to-date, exploring today's changing attitudes toward childbirth, alternative medicine, and modern-day witches.
We take the subject of women's health for granted now. Not too long ago, however, it was a completely taboo subject. And women were perceived to be incapable of understanding and actively contributing to their own health. Where now breast cancer options are part and parcel of treatment, at the time of this book it was normal for a woman to go under for a biopsy and wake with a mastectomy. Ehrenreich and English chronicle some of the history of Western health care, both from the standpoint of what women received as well as what people received depending on social class. Medicine is not merely a matter of making a person well. It's tied in with power, money, social structures, and encouraging the status quo.
Because of this book, many women took an active interest in their health and actually learning about their bodies. A worthwhile read on a lot of fronts.