STOCKHOLM / ROME, December 11th (IPS) – COVID-19 has been turned into a harmful political problem in some countries. One of many worrying examples is the rhetoric of the Brazilian president.
On November 10, when the death toll from COVID-19 in Brazil exceeded 162,000 – the number continued to rise to just 179,032 seconds from 296,745 in the US – Jair Bolsanero minimized the impact of COVID-19 with the Words: “We will all die one day. There is no point in escaping this, escaping reality. We have to stop being a land of sissies. ”
Bolsanero actually said Maricaswho like Sissies is slang for gay people. Both expressions originally indicated “little girls” – marica is a miniaturized version of Maria and Sissy from “Kid Sister”. Bolsanero thus defined homosexuality as Softness by associating gay men with affection and cowardice.
By combining disease, fear and femininity, the Brazilian president not only ignored the strength and courage women have shown throughout history in enduring childbirth and caring for others, but also showed a severe disregard for gender equality and the rights of women and gays.
In several countries, gender equality has made advances in areas such as education and labor force participation, although health inequalities between women and men continue to plague several societies where girls and women continue to be victims of ideologies and practices that make them more susceptible to disease than men Men from neglect, abuse and mistreatment. In addition, women and girls are often exposed to biased doctors about diagnosis and treatment, while limited access to education and paid work may prevent them from accessing adequate health services.
In most societies women were viewed as subordinate to men. In both art and medicine, women were viewed and interpreted from a “male point of view”. That a “male gaze” applies to the perception of women’s bodies became clear to me when I was reading Edward Shorters sometime in the 1980s A history of the female body. Shorter ones described how religion and medicine have discriminated against women, primarily through disregard for their physical and mental health.
I remembered Shorter’s book when I visited the Andean highlands a few years ago and interviewed women about their living conditions. What upset me then was the deplorable health of the women I encountered, assuming it was my collaboration with a midwife that led them to expose physical aches and pains. Some diseases arose out of trouble during pregnancy, often occurring too early in life and far too common afterwards.
Complaints related to the female body were weighed down by prejudice, chauvinism, and religious bigotry, and therefore viewed as shameful and hidden. Through my encounter with these women, I realized that gender equality is not just a matter of relationships between men and women – physical differences between the sexes also need to be considered and addressed.
By intent on associating fear of COVID-19 infection with cowardice and femininity, Bolsanero’s rhetoric not only shows a propensity for homophobia and misogyny, but also reveals a lack of knowledge about the crucial role women play in the world medical development have played. Quite often, while studying gender issues at work, I have been confronted with a view that emphasizes almost exclusively social injustices caused by male chauvinism. This, of course, is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. However, this should not allow the bodies of women to be distinguished from those of men. The neglect of women’s unique physical constitution has caused and limited unnecessary suffering over the centuries
Wellbeing of women.
Having a child is a uniquely feminine experience that excludes men who cannot experience the pain and dangers that come with it. Childbirth has always almost exclusively affected women – the expectant mother, midwife, friends and relatives. Men were generally excluded from the process. What midwives lacked in formal, academic learning, they made up for with experience and ancient traditions.
With the emergence of an academic medical profession and with it an increasing interest in the income-generating business of midwives, male doctors became increasingly interested in obstetrics in the 19th century and were generally against midwives. Before male interventions, women usually gave birth in partially upright positions, supported by other women. One reason for this was that childbirth was seen as a social problem and the technology made the process easier for both mother and midwife because they could use gravity. However, male obstetricians preferred that women stay in bed during childbirth. Accordingly, obstetricians in France and the rest of Europe were called Couponsfrom the French A couch, go to bed.
It has been claimed that surgeons are better trained in scientific medicine than midwives, who relied on popular medical traditions. In several countries, midwives have gradually been regulated in favor of male doctors. In his book, Shorter argued that increasingly male-dominated obstetrics was initially harmful, causing unnecessary discomfort and suffering. In addition to making the actual birth process easier, midwives also offered support and help during pregnancy and aftercare. In contrast to men, they were generally mothers themselves and were therefore able to view complaints and dangers from a female perspective. Some of them also knew how to ease labor and prevent unwanted pregnancies, and in some cases even about abortions. The midwives were thus well acquainted with the workings of a female body through their own and collective experiences and responded to different types of interventions.
The oppression of midwifery women is just one of many examples of how women have been systematically marginalized as they heal and care for the sick and injured. This does not mean that their care was not critical. On the contrary, caring for others was seen more as a feminine duty, also as part of feminine nature. A perception of the role of women in health care was taken for granted and they were not offered education or pay. In Catholic Europe, until recently, it was unpaid nuns who cared for the sick and were believed to have acquired their knowledge through practice.
Until well into the 20th century, doctors were almost exclusively men and nurses were subordinate to them in everything (until 1955 men were not allowed to serve as nurses in the US Army). In addition, nurses were paid significantly less than a doctor. Men in white were and are generally still regarded as the hospital king. Something was still manifesting in several hospitals. big rounds when the chief physician visits bedridden patients accompanied by doctors in training, while female nurses remain discreetly in the background.
It was only after the bloody massacres of the war in the 19th century that female nurses gained a greater role and nursing schools were established to train them in health care. Most of the training, however, was hospital-based and had an emphasis on hands-on experience well into the 20th century. Over the past century, wars have further improved the position of women in health care. During World War I, nurses were incorporated into the war effort, and during World War II, belligerent nations formed units of trained nurses. For example, otherwise reluctant to involve women in the war industry, the Nazis recruited more than 40,000 nurses for their armies.
The rapid development of medicine in recent times is probably the most impressive human success story of all time. Not only has it promoted human well-being, but it has also contributed to greater compassion and reduced the brutality of everyday life. This development probably would not have started without considering women’s health. Due to the immense pain and the risk of fatal infections, surgical interventions over the millennia were limited to superficial interventions as well as amputations and trepanning. Breakthroughs in sterility have been made with obstetric care for men. The first steps towards discovering the role of bacteria and viruses in infections were made in 1846 when the Austrian obstetrician Ignaz Semmelweiss discovered that more women died in maternity wards with male surgeons than in midwives. Semmelweiss attributed the cause of the increased mortality to male medical students who did not wash their hands after dissecting corpses. Although Semmelweis’ health recommendations were largely ignored and he himself was driven insane, he is now considered a pioneer in aseptics and the prevention of hospital-acquired infections.
The presence of male doctors at birth made them realize the immense pain caused by disrupted nerve pathways and made them pursue more effective anesthetics. Advances that, together with aseptics, finally made surgical interventions into the body possible. James Young Simpson used chloroform anesthesia during a birth in Edinburgh in 1847, and using the same method in 1853 when Queen Victoria gave birth to Prince Leopold, anesthesia spread around the world. After Robert Koch established beyond any doubt that bacterial infections were spreading in 1879 and introduced heat sterilization of all surgical instruments in 1881, medical science would never be the same again.
Accordingly, calling general health a concern of “maricas” is not just a sign of ridicule Machismo, but also a manifestation of deep ignorance. When Jair Bolsanero equated “fear of COVID-19” with femininity, he displayed contempt for the bravery and professionalism that homosexual men have shown as doctors and nurses, and demeaned women who have battled disease and fatal injuries over the centuries, as well Caring for the home and family and giving birth to lasting pain. In addition, Bolsanero showed a deep ignorance of the basics of modern medicine and its fundamentals for the well-being of women.
Sources: https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/brasil-54902608 and Shorter, Edward (1984) A History of Women’s Bodies. London: Pelican Books.
Jan Lundius has a doctorate. on the history of religion at Lund University and was a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organizations.
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