"Como Quiere Cuidarse?" Medicalization of Women's Bodies in an Ecuadorian Public Health Clinic
MetadataShow full item record
My research examines the doctor-patient interactions in a small public health clinic on the outskirts of the city of Quito, Ecuador. I used Emily Martin's metaphor of the uterus as a machine of capitalism to examine the medicalization of bodies. I also reference Ellen Lazarus' suggestions for a recognition of the power differentials that . exist in doctor-patient interactions. To do this, I interviewed staff members and conducted daily observations of clinical appointments. My findings include instances of doctors focusing primarily on the reproduction and sexuality of their patients, of discussion of the specific expectations for chemicals' effect on the body, and doctors socializing patients to operate both effectively and dociley within the public health institution. Staff members also critiqued the clinic, the patients, and their own medical practice. I found that doctors failed to critique class structure, medicalized bodies overall but not the uterus in particular, and were too overworked and overwhelmed to effectively modify their behavior or the clinical structure. These results indicate that critiques of the medicalization of women's bodies no not fully acknowledge oppressive power structures and do not fit within structural constraints placed on doctors within overworked public health clinics. Future research can continue to examine the divide between Martin's metaphor and Lazarus' practical critique.