Dispelling the common notion that American women became activists in the fight against female cancer only after the 1970s, Kirsten E. Gardner traces women's cancer education campaigns back to the early twentieth century. Focusing on breast cancer, but using research on cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancers as well, Gardner's examination of films, publications, health fairs, and archival materials shows that women have promoted early cancer detection since the inception of the American Society for the Control of Cancer in 1913. While informing female audiences about cancer risks, these early activists also laid the groundwork for the political advocacy and patient empowerment movements of recent decades.By the 1930s there were 300,000 members of the Women's Field Army working together with women's clubs. They held explicit discussions about the risks, detection, and incidence of cancer and, by mid-century, were offering advice about routine breast self-exams and annual Pap smears. The feminist health movement of the 1970s, Gardner explains, heralded a departure for female involvement in women's health activism. As before, women encouraged early detection, but they simultaneously demanded increased attention to gender and medical research, patient experiences, and causal factors. Our understanding of today's vibrant feminist health movement is enriched by Gardner's work recognizing women's roles in grassroots educational programs throughout the twentieth century and their creation of supportive networks that endure today.
|Publisher:||The University of North Carolina Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.76(d)|
About the Author
Kirsten E. Gardner is assistant professor of history and women's studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
What People are Saying About This
Gardner demonstrates that cancer was not a 'secret' hidden in American society until the 1970s, but rather a topic of great concern and activism since the early twentieth century. Although men dominated cancer research, women led the educational campaigns about cancer awareness, and both types of contributions are central to health promotion. Her analysis of cancer awareness programs is an exciting contribution to the history of women and health, the history of health education, and the history of disease.Susan L. Smith, author of Japanese American Midwives: Culture, Community, and Health Politics, 1880-1950