I adored this book, especially since the authors included a caveat at the beginning which attempted to neutralize any overly vehement or one sided arguments, we cringe a little at what read now like overstatements and overly militant ways of stating things From what I ve read of Ehrenreich s work, I wonder ifof her books wouldn t be better served to have this type of warning in the introduction.Nevertheless, I was able to overlook what I thought were glaring omissions For exampl I adored this book, especially since the authors included a caveat at the beginning which attempted to neutralize any overly vehement or one sided arguments, we cringe a little at what read now like overstatements and overly militant ways of stating things From what I ve read of Ehrenreich s work, I wonder ifof her books wouldn t be better served to have this type of warning in the introduction.Nevertheless, I was able to overlook what I thought were glaring omissions For example, the 1910 Flexner report, which revolutionized American medical education at a time when anyone could set up a medical practice or even a school, was surely as the authors contend a devastating influence on blacks and women Not allowed into theprestigious schools, those who were black and female and sought a medical career found their schools were almost universally forced to close after the report revealed their education to be sub standard And it s undoubtedly true, as the authors claim, that Flexner and the foundation had no intention of making such training available to anyone except the wealthy white men who attended the schools which received grants from the Carnegie Corporation by whom Flexner was employed However, a few sentences about what were assuredly the multitudes of dangerous faith healers, quacks, and other people practicing medicine at the time would have given their argumentcredence by making it obvious that the authors wereaware of the complex social environment of the time.It was interesting to note that in Europe, the extensive witch hunts were often targeted at lay healers, usually women, and in this way much of our ancestral herbal knowledge was destroyed As the authors state so well, It was witches who developed an extensive understanding of bones and muscles, herbs and drugs, while physicians were still deriving their prognoses from astrology and alchemists were trying to turn lead into gold The issue of lay healing by women and ultimately midwifery being driven to extinction in America is served especially well The precedent in Europe for the Church having many motives for ousting lay healers culminates in America, where midwifery, the last holdout of peoples medicine, was nearly destroyed Midwives were ridiculed as hopelessly dirty, ignorant, and incompetent Specifically, they were held responsible for the prevalence of puerperal sepsis uterine infections and neonatal ophthalmia blindness due to parental infection with gonorrhea Both conditions were easily preventable by techniques well within the grasp of the least literate midwife hand washing for puerperal sepsis, and eye drops for the ophthalmia So the obvious solution for a truly public spirited obstetrical profession would have been to make the appropriate preventive techniques known and available to the mass of midwives This is in fact what happened in England, Germany, and most other European nations Midwifery was upgraded through training to become an established, independent occupation This rings so true, it is difficult to debate Especially since just this positive scenario occurred with the midwives on the Farm in Tennessee with the obstetricians who educated and supplied them, contributing to excellent fetal outcomes.The authors claim midwifery was driven out for the purposes of money 50% of births attended by midwives in 1910, the authors claim, was an intolerable situation to the newly emerging obstetrical specialty I am tired of this claim for all that I am saddened by the history of midwifery, I don t believe obstetricians to be, on a personal level, evil, and I resent the implication that individuals in healing professions can make such selfish decisions so consistently Maybe I m an idealist, and maybe I m incorrect in assuming that obstetrics is a healing profession, but I would hate to be proven wrong Further research is clearly necessary on my part.I especially appreciated the discussion of class as it related to the hospitalization of childbirth It seems complicated and is not clearly outlined, but touched on throughout the book, so I d also like to readabout that.The book does highlight some significant problems I have with second wave feminism, that is as I understand it the feminism that characterizes home making as a trap for women who should instead be out building careers and keeping up with men I m totally in support of that if that s what a woman chooses to do, but in their haste to be free from home and children, second wave feminists seem to have forgotten or never realized that the beneficiaries of the freedom that they so valiantly won for us might choose, perhaps ignorant of that history, a life of domesticity, and be quite content with it while also self identifying as feminists.As they write, feminists of the late nineteenth century were themselves beginning to celebrate the nurse mother image of femininity The American women s movement had given up the struggle for full sexual equality to focus exclusively on the vote, and to get it, they were ready to adopt the most sexist tenets of Victorian ideology Women needed the vote, they argued, not because they are human, but because they are Mothers Woman is the mother of the race, gushed Boston feminist Julia War Howe, the guardian of its helpless infancy, its earliest teacher, its most zealous champion Woman is also the homemaker, upon her devolve the details which bless and beautify family life And so on in paeans too painful to quote While I can see that, in an era when homemaking is the only acceptable life for a woman, or only alongside a similar occupation such as nursing or teaching, that could be a nauseating tract to read However, in my life, free to choose what I wish, I actually find it touching It does, however, highlight a continued controversy in my mind Men are clearly capable of being the mother of the race, as defined above, but clearly birth and breastfeeding implyinvolvement of the mother in the early life of the child Where do we draw the distinction between biologically determined gender roles and those that are imposed only by our culture It s a very important question, and I think it can only be resolved on a personal level.I think some of that dilemma is, perhaps unconsciously, addressed later amidst a wildly controversial discussion of the role of the nurse as it developed in the twentieth century Healing, in its fullest sense, consists of both curing and caring, doctoring and nursing The old lay healers of an earlier time had combined both functions, and were valued for both For examples sic , midwives not only presided at the delivery, but lived in until the new mother was ready to resume care of her children But with the development of scientific medicine, and the modern medical profession, the two functions were split irrevocably Curing became the exclusive province of the doctor caring was relegated to the nurse The split of the role of healer into superior curer doctor and subordinate carer nurse mimics the split into gender roles that our society pushes us, aided by our biology To become whole, to become the healer, carer and curer in all, is similar to becoming a whole person despite gender roles As an aside, while I do see some glimmers of truth in their discussion of the history of nursing as a history of women s oppression, I think it deserves a farnuanced discussion than they gave it Lastly, I found this tidbit in their conclusion to be worth remembering There is no historically consistent justification for the exclusion of women from healing roles Witches were attacked in Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries for being pragmatic, empirical, and immoral But in the nineteenth century the rhetoric reversed women became too unscientific, delicate, and sentimental The stereotypes change to suit male convenience we don t, and there is nothing in our innate feminine nature to justify our present subservience All in all, I find that what the authors state, somewhat apologetically, in the new introduction, to be true If some of the sources of our anger now seem quaint, this is only because of works like WMN Witches, Midwives, and Nurses and the movement it came out of No matter how I take issue with their bias, I have to affirm that women who charged forth with such bias blazed the way for women like me I am thankful, but I hope that the polarization of public opinion that such radicals have fueled has not doneharm than good This pamphlet obviously has some dated info The statistics about male to female med school ratios are laughable in our time where numbers have largely equalized Still, one of the main reasons I did not choose medical school as my own entry into healthcare is the ongoing if not out right patriarchy of medicine then at least its overbearing paternalism I don t think the answer necessarily will come from direct reform of the professional role of physician as much as it will come from the diversi This pamphlet obviously has some dated info The statistics about male to female med school ratios are laughable in our time where numbers have largely equalized Still, one of the main reasons I did not choose medical school as my own entry into healthcare is the ongoing if not out right patriarchy of medicine then at least its overbearing paternalism I don t think the answer necessarily will come from direct reform of the professional role of physician as much as it will come from the diversification of professionally trained and scientifically competent providers and partners for instance nurse practitioners within the health care system as a whole.I found the examination of witch as medieval healthcare provider as well as the struggle for credibility amongst midwives and other so called lay practitioners in America to be fascinating examinations of the oppression of women, women s health care, and female providers from a feminist perspective However, I wish these statements and sources had been better cited This is a pamphlet not an academic paper and there is a bibliography at the end, but I thinkthorough and systematic citations would lend the reportcredibility.Lastly, nurses I disagree with some of the authors interpretation of the profession of nurse as a means of enforcing upper class ideas of ladyhood on working class women, putting them in the role of subservience to male doctors that mirrored domestic subservience to a male patriarch Yes, nursing history is tainted by this notion of subservience, and well into the 20th century the relationship of nurse to doctor was one of dominance with nurses giving up their seats to doctors on hospital floors, something that is laughably absent on any hospital floor I have worked on today I also know very little about Florence Nightingale, so I guess I can t really speak about her with complete accuracy I read a young adult biography of her life when I was 10 or 11 years old, and other than that I really only have secondhand knowledge acquired by being in a profession that universally loves Nightingale And I have to say my bias is towards admiring her not criticizing her The authors state that she held up the ideal of nurse as lady A caregiver, not a medical professional based in scientific practice Anyone who has a passing knowledge of Nightingale s later work in epidemiology knows this cannot be true Her lasting influence in public health and hygiene are based in science in a time before such things as antibiotics made cures commonplace Her rhetoric on nursing as a profession may be politically influenced by the world she lived in where women were not respected for intellect Her desire to create a credible, as well as viable profession in the Victorian system had to work within such ridiculous notions such as separate spheres for men and women that I do not believe can be judged by today s feminist morality or perhaps I should say second wave feminist morality The authors cite Victorian suffragette writings on why women should have the right to vote as having similar rhetoric placing women on a pedestal of kindness, gentility, and maternal morality that would guide them when voting Such notions are absurd by today s standards, but early advancement of women and opportunities outside the home such as nursing and teaching often sprung to life within notions of womanhood at the time and provided real opportunities for women that became the stepping stones for the 20th century Women s movement I think it belittles the history of women and feminism to play down the professional origins of nursing as just another role that confined women to a certain sphere Nursing provided a very real opportunity outside the home that has created an avenue for economic independence and personal pride for centuries It has moved well beyond the role of subservience and certainly continuing to harp on notions of lady hood is a part of why the profession continues to have a low number of men even as areas such as education have gainedmale members Perhaps it is time to stop thinking about why there is a health care role that is supposedly stereotypically female and to look at what it is about men that keeps them out of the profession Because a good nurse focuses on patient centered care, holistic approaches to a person s whole health picture not just modern heroic medical procedures , and patient education and empowerment Is this too feminine to apply to men I don t think it is an issue with nursing so much as it represents a crisis among male hyper reactivity to feminist advances in the 20th Century From a 2012 perspective, the lack of male nurses is not a problem with nursing, it is a problem with the definition of what is masculine and the increasingly restrictive spheres that men are allowed to reside in There is a lot of information in this book but it s dry, making it seem like a chore to read it Kinda sad, this is a fascinating topic I borrowed this book from archive.org I am a fan of Barbara Ehrenreich s work as well as a fan of midwifery, and so it was with great interest that I picked up this pamphlet However, I naively expected it to go in depth into the history of midwifery and women healers I was not anticipating that having been written two years before I was born, the over riding feminist perspective and thesis of this work I have never stopped to consider that the nursing profession is a way of oppressing women and keeping them locked into the mother I am a fan of Barbara Ehrenreich s work as well as a fan of midwifery, and so it was with great interest that I picked up this pamphlet However, I naively expected it to go in depth into the history of midwifery and women healers I was not anticipating that having been written two years before I was born, the over riding feminist perspective and thesis of this work I have never stopped to consider that the nursing profession is a way of oppressing women and keeping them locked into the mothering, nurturing, obedient roles by a ruling class of men I am not one to read much politically or feminist driven work So this was a bit out of my comfort zone Even though I respect both authors and believe they produce work with integrity, the claims in the pamphlet are hard for me to swallow Rather than dismiss the information, I am the type of person who wants to see for myself So this pamphlet is, for me, a gateway to findinginformation on the subject before I can really draw any conclusions and before I can probably even fully appreciate this little body of work This was quite an interesting read for a non feminist, 21st century medical student From 1972, Barbara and Deirdre bring us an academic, synthesized approach to the History of female health professionals It is quite obvious that women have always been the cornerstone of the medical arts, but for some obscure reason have never been regarded as so In the dark ages, we called them witches, inferior to the rational knowledge of physicians and sought out feverishly, for even when their treatments This was quite an interesting read for a non feminist, 21st century medical student From 1972, Barbara and Deirdre bring us an academic, synthesized approach to the History of female health professionals It is quite obvious that women have always been the cornerstone of the medical arts, but for some obscure reason have never been regarded as so In the dark ages, we called them witches, inferior to the rational knowledge of physicians and sought out feverishly, for even when their treatments were successful, the Malleus Maleficarum classified them as pure evil, thus protecting the medical class from any competition In fact, what was labeled as superstitious was the basis of the empiric method we still use in some therapies and what was called perverse might have been the first attempts at physical examinations, since the doctors even feared touching the patient for too long, dissecting was considered a crime and medical studies were dedicated to ancient history, astronomy and theology Then it came the time for the midwives, restrained to child bearing assistance, since too much knowledge was said to interfere with a woman s fertility And politics crept in to keep women from going to medical schools the course was extended so that only the higher classes could afford to and younger women felt divided between starting a family or a career this is where it starts sounding familiar Moreover, even after graduating, women couldn t perform as physicians since no hospital would take in a female intern.Finally, Florence Nightingale spreads nursing schools through the country, educating docile, submissive housemaids that History has baptized as the first nurses Indeed, this was quite a surprise to me for a woman that conquered so much, I didn t expect Nightingale to be so determined to keep nurses as assisting maids, heeding to the doctor s every order, with no scientific knowledge whatsoever But certainly it was the beginning of a new era, nursing is nowthan cleaning and feeding, it is a vast study Presently, I can say medical schools are attended byyoung women than men but I think such a long history of male supremacy in this profession has left its marks and they won t fade for a long time The book depicted here is the 1972 first edition, main text and intro.The book I read is the 2010 second edition which has retained the same text but with 2 intros, the 1972 and the 2010 The writers judge the main text to present a succint and an accurate look at women as medical practitioners However it seems that the writers Barabara Ehrenreich and Dierdre English needed to go back to update their intro to reflect their lower level anger frustration and to update the professionalization of n The book depicted here is the 1972 first edition, main text and intro.The book I read is the 2010 second edition which has retained the same text but with 2 intros, the 1972 and the 2010 The writers judge the main text to present a succint and an accurate look at women as medical practitioners However it seems that the writers Barabara Ehrenreich and Dierdre English needed to go back to update their intro to reflect their lower level anger frustration and to update the professionalization of nurses and the increasing number of female doctors.Somewhere between 2003 and 2005, I read Woman as Healer 1990 by Jeanne Achterberg effectively an update to Witches, Midwives and Nurses A History of Women HealersI am now interested in finding acurrent book about female medical pracitioners If anyone has a suggestion, I will consider it This book managed to piss me off with its shoddy scholarship It read as one long thesis statement with little evidence to back it up There were only 17 books in the bibliography for a pamphlet that was supposed to span Middle Ages to the 1970s Objective language is thrown out the window and history is given a value judgment without much struggle in arriving at that value judgment The historian, whether feminist or not, will cringe at some of the value laden words used in this small pamphlet This book managed to piss me off with its shoddy scholarship It read as one long thesis statement with little evidence to back it up There were only 17 books in the bibliography for a pamphlet that was supposed to span Middle Ages to the 1970s Objective language is thrown out the window and history is given a value judgment without much struggle in arriving at that value judgment The historian, whether feminist or not, will cringe at some of the value laden words used in this small pamphlet I do have strong feelings about history, most of them the same as English and Ehrenreich But the way I see it, my job is to try and immerse myself in a former culture and then, when out again, understand that I am subject to historiography and write with that understanding To write with self awareness, not self righteousness.I love history, I m a feminist, and I have enjoyed some of Ehrenreich s previous works I picked this book up at a booksale, hoping to read about the very rich history of women healers and midwives Instead of reading about empowered women, taking power back when they could in difficult circumstances, I read about how men took all the power away My grandmother was a midwife in the early 1900 s I heard her stories and remember being awed as a little girl She knew so much And she was so stoic, so many secrets She d seen so much She did later become a nurse for Sacred Heart According to the book the midwives were empowered and the nurses were an extension of sexism How could my grandma be both I just don t think that s the only word on the story and I was so disappointed to read this book and hear the flat, good bad, man woman simplistic thesis statement Maybe the authors should have taken a single portion of the history they overviewed and focused on just that, with double the primary documents and double the secondary sources They could have given the midwives and nurses so muchform and character, given those incredible women bone in our modern day I want to read that book I did not enjoy this pamphlet It pissed me off Women have always been healers, and medicine has always been an arena of struggle between female practitioners and male professionals This pamphlet explores two important phases in the male takeover of health care the suppression of witches in medieval Europe and the rise of the male medical profession in the United States The authors conclude that despite efforts to exclude them, the resurgence of women as healers should be a long range goal of the women s movement Witches, Midwives and Nurses A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English traces the systematic and systemic persecution of women as healers beginning with the witch hunt craze of the 14th through 17th centuries up to the early 20th Century As Ehrenreich and English demonstrate, women have always been healers, primarily healers of women and the poor But their journey has been fraught with peril For over five centuries they faced a systematic, two pronged attack on the Witches, Midwives and Nurses A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English traces the systematic and systemic persecution of women as healers beginning with the witch hunt craze of the 14th through 17th centuries up to the early 20th Century As Ehrenreich and English demonstrate, women have always been healers, primarily healers of women and the poor But their journey has been fraught with peril For over five centuries they faced a systematic, two pronged attack on their vocation first from the church and then from the male dominated medical profession The number of women in Europe who were tortured, burned at the stake, or executed by the Protestant and Catholic churches over a period of three centuries is staggering By some estimates it is in the millions These women were accused of any number of crimes consorting with the devil committing sexual crimes against men including causing male impotency and making their penises disappear committing murder distributing poison They were even persecuted for using their knowledge of human anatomy and medicinal herbs and remedies to heal and help the sick As Ehrenreich and English point out, there has not been a consistent justification for shunting women from healing roles As we moved toward the 20th Century, the establishment of medicine as a profession requiring university training further diminished the role of women as healers since women were denied access to university Forced out of the role of healers, women adopted the supporting role of nurses As such, they manifested the wifely virtue of absolute obedience to the doctor, and the selfless devotion of a mother to the patient Even though the situation for women in the medical profession has improved since its publication the 1970s , Witches, Midwives and Nurses A History of Women Healers is still well worth reading because it illuminates how two powerful forces systematically and consistently colluded for many centuries in ejecting women from their role as healers and replacing them with male physicians Highly recommended Ehrenreich writes an introduction for this reprint of a 1973 classic, and as she says we have to remind ourselves that WMN was written in a blaze of anger and indignation.This book was contemporaneous with Our Bodies, Ourselves, the feminist text on the female body It enlightened a generation of women who until then had taken elective hysterectomies and automatic mastectomies for granted, both money making procedures for the mostly male doctors who populated the medical profession by design Ehrenreich writes an introduction for this reprint of a 1973 classic, and as she says we have to remind ourselves that WMN was written in a blaze of anger and indignation.This book was contemporaneous with Our Bodies, Ourselves, the feminist text on the female body It enlightened a generation of women who until then had taken elective hysterectomies and automatic mastectomies for granted, both money making procedures for the mostly male doctors who populated the medical profession by design Ehrenreich sounds a little rueful above, but I m still pissed.Five years before this second edition was published, Grey s Anatomy debuted on ABC, with a female doctor lead and a large, mostly female supporting cast who are all doctors, too I wonder if Ehrenreich and the authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves watch it, and what they think if they do