UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Changes in women's health activism as observed in Our Bodies, Ourselves Dalrymple, Kate


Using data from feminist health advocacy books, I have identified the key changes within women’s health activism and the approach to women’s empowerment over the last 40 years. I conducted content analysis on a total of six chapters selected from two editions of Our Bodies Ourselves (1973, 2011) in order to trace key changes. My findings show three distinct developments in the approaches to activism. The first was a transformation from a critique of the medical system to an acceptance of the capitalist control of medicine. Next, I observed a change in focus from the free choice over whether to use birth control to a moral obligation to use one of many available forms of birth control. Finally, I determined that feminism has abandoned its focus on shared responsibility for health care, and instead focuses on patient-led responsibility. This in turn reflects a shift in empowerment from a focus on broad social change to individualistic solutions. I determined that these changes have been informed by a broad change in feminism to a more neoliberally informed feminism. By identifying sites of potential inequality, these findings can be employed in order to create policy that aims to build a more equitable health care experience for marginalized populations in the United States.

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