Women behaving badly

cathy Livingstone catseye at idmail.com
Tue Dec 15 13:36:58 PST 1998

I absolutely accept your argument on anorexia and bulimia and I've used texts such as Kim Chernin's 'Obsession' to argue that in a women's studies course I taught. And, I would even argue that ALL diseases have a cultural context (e.g. stress, environment, poverty, gender, class). But in saying so, why should CFS be singled out as a particularly 'cultural' disease in a political-economic context where cultural causes are denigrated and where only medicological models are accepted. This then 'diminishes' us because we are the exception - THE cultural disease. There is some political heavy-handedness going on here. Also, unlike anorexia/bulimia which is a process that builds up over time in a person's life, CFS hits like a whammy. One day you are well, the next day you are sick. Culture is powerful but I didn't know it could work in a day.


t 12:03 PM 12/15/98 -0500, you wrote:
>Well, I guess I don't see Showalter as minimizing or disrepecting the very
>real suffering of CFS. I think she treats CFS with much more respect
>and seriousness than she does Satanic Ritual Abuse or alien abductions.
>But more importantly, I don't see how suggesting
>there are psychosocial roots of CFS does anything to denigrate CFS or the
>women who suffer from it. I gave the example of anorexia, sonce it's been
>ignored, I'll repeat what I said. Feminists ague that anorexia has it's
>roots in culture. There is nothing wrong with the girls per se, it is the
>world around them. I believe that many feminists who do this work
>point to the very prevalence of anorexia in suggesting that is it a
>socio-cultural rather than medical epidemic. To argue that anorexia can
>best be understood under the medical model is to ignore the very real
>socio-cultural pressures that lead to them starving themselves. And I
>don't think anyone suggests that pointing out that anorexia is cultural
>soehow makes their suffering less serious. I'm not suggesting that CFS is
>"merely" psychological and that a "good dose of psychoanalysis" would cure
>it. I'm suggesting that at least part of the cause is rooted in culture,l
>which makes it very serious, indeed, and would call for radical societal
>restructuring, as does anorexia.

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