Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Witches, Midwives and Nurses

Read online version here

I hope to develop through this blog, a holistic understanding of health, our bodies, labor, gender and disabilities struggles. I feel like this pamphlet is exactly the kind of foundational texts that need to be made more accessible in our time. Non-institutionalized, accessible, community run healthcare is not the terrain of new age-y, white, middle class hippies. It is the terrain of women of color, of class struggle, of gender struggle that had been severely attacked historically. I feel like it's time to reclaim, normalize and integrate it into my life and politics.

Commodified care expresses how caring work (which involves love, support, skilled labor etc) has been turned into capitalist properties for the purpose of $$ and not for the purpose of furthering and expanding humanity. It takes the form of disableism, racism and patriarchy in that some bodies are more commodified than others, both as bodies which are seen as useless and therefore suitable only as OBJECTS that can gain profits, or as bodies that are not flesh and blood, but rather machines that can be sped up endlessly. 

The foundation of commodified care is that it separates our physical bodies from our mental and emotional health. Like so many things, it is a product of extreme rationalism, Enlightenment philosophy gone sour, which institutionalizes the mind-body split. This mind-body split is also expressed in classed, gendered and bodily ways -- the elite, the male and the able-bodied cisgendered male is seen as the pedestal of rationalism while the poor, women and gender non-conforming folks, disabled bodies are lacking and more controlled by our primitive, bodily needs. Fixing is what we need, in bodily and mental forms -- thus invasive medical procedures and indoctrinating education that devalue us in our own eyes. On a more everyday level, it is how at my workplace, CNAs are expected to do the servant-like menial labor, do the daily grooming and dressing, but not be trained in medical skills or be given time/space in our workday to BUILD relationships with our residents. This is not to say that relationships dont form between us and our residents, but that they form because of the resilience of relationships and love, not because they had been accounted for as an integral dimension of the caring work that we do. 

What I am most excited about by this pamphlet is its description of the Popular Health Movement, as opposed to the "Feminist" movement led by white, middle class Victorian ladies. The Popular Health Movement involved the widespread dissemination of knowledge about herbal medicine, preventative care, and expertise about the body and hygiene, as opposed to the elitism and isolation of doctors, the professionalized medical establishment.
[To continue, read here]  


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