Commentary: Knowing it when we see it: reflections on pornography.
ABSTRACT This commentary asks, of what contemporary use is the excavation of a specific incident of sexually intimidating and otherwise inappropriate behavior in medical education's history? The question is posed in response to the accompanying article by Halperin detailing the publication and critical reception of an anatomy textbook that adopted a demeaning attitude toward women and featured pinup style photographs of nude women. The author contends that the generational context of feminist response to this incident and others like it is critical in shaping the current discussion. Today's third-generation feminists recognize the injustice of exploitative or offensive behaviors, but because of a fear of retaliation or negative consequence, they may nonetheless decline to respond in an official or whistle-blowing capacity-despite efforts to normalize appropriate faculty-learner interactions and to provide safe reception for those affected by abuses of power or authority. Revisiting an incident such as the one Halperin recounts reminds readers of both genders and all career stages that violations of professional mores between teacher and learner still occur and that the price of speaking up remains high.
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ABSTRACT: Studying the history of medical education helps teach us that medicine is a social activity that occurs in the context of social mores and customs. In 1971, a major new anatomy textbook aimed at first-year medical students was published. The Anatomical Basis of Medical Practice, written by Professors R. Frederick Becker, James S. W. Wilson, and John A. Gehweiler, emphasized surface anatomy, embryology, and radiographic anatomy. At multiple places in the text, the authors used sexually suggestive and "cheeky" comments about women. A small fraction of the illustrations were stylized, posed female nude photographs purchased from California photographer Peter Gowland. These photographs, of a type typically seen in Playboy centerfolds or "pin-up girl" calendars, produced a firestorm of controversy. The book was criticized in the press and in reviews in scholarly journals, and a boycott was organized by the Association of Women in Science. The publisher received negative feedback from consumers, and the book was withdrawn from the market. The book is now a minor collector's item. Professors Becker and Wilson vigorously responded. They laid blame for the debacle on the publisher and also claimed they were the victims of a witch hunt by feminists. The Anatomical Basis of Medical Practice appeared as the women's movement became part of the American popular consciousness. It was also an era in which the public began to grapple with how to define pornography. Professor Becker and his coauthors thought that they were writing a witty, engaging, and funny book. Their detractors thought the book denigrated women.Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges 03/2009; 84(2):278-83. DOI:10.1097/ACM.0b013e31819391e2 · 3.47 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The literature consistently reports that sexual harassment occurs with regularity in medical education, mostly in clinical settings, and most of it goes unreported. Reasons for nonreporting include the fear of retaliation, a reluctance to be viewed as a victim, a fear that one is being "too sensitive," and the belief that nothing will be done. We wanted to examine with greater concentration the stories women students tell about sexual harassment, including what they count as sexual harassment, for more or different clues to their persistent nonreporting. We used focus groups to interview 30 women students at 5 U.S. medical schools. We used systematic inductive guidelines to analyze the transcribed data, linking to and building new theoretical frameworks to provide an interpretive understanding of the lived experiences of the women in our study. Consistent with previous literature, most of the students interviewed had either witnessed or observed sexual harassment. We selected 2 theoretical lenses heretofore not used to explain responses to sexual harassment: 3rd-wave feminist theory to think about how current women students conceive sexual harassment and personality theory to explain beliefs about nonreporting. Medical educators need new ways to understand how contemporary women students define and respond to sexual harassment.Teaching and Learning in Medicine 02/2007; 19(1):20-9. DOI:10.1080/10401330709336619 · 1.12 Impact Factor