Maya Dusenbery, editorial director of Feministing,com, will be joined by Chicago-based feminist writer Paula Kamen, author of All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache, for a conversation about Dusenbery’s new book Doing Harm, gender bias in medicine, chronic pain, and the history of hysteria.
In Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick, Dusenbery brings together scientific and sociological research, interviews with doctors and researchers, and personal stories from women across the country to provide the first comprehensive, accessible look at how sexism in medicine harms women today.
An eye-opening read for patients and health care providers alike, Doing Harm shows how women suffer because the medical community knows relatively less about their diseases and bodies and too often doesn’t trust their reports of their symptoms. The research community has neglected conditions that disproportionately affect women and paid little attention to biological differences between the sexes in everything from drug metabolism to the disease factors—even the symptoms of a heart attack. Meanwhile, a long history of viewing women as especially prone to “hysteria” reverberates to the present day, leaving women battling against a stereotype that they’re hypochondriacs whose ailments are likely to be “all in their heads.”
Offering a clear-eyed explanation of the root causes of this insidious and entrenched bias and laying out its sometimes catastrophic consequences, Doing Harm is a rallying wake-up call that will change the way we look at health care for women.
Maya Dusenbery is a writer, editor of the award-winning site Feministing.com, and author of the book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick. She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has also appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, Bitch magazine, and TheAtlantic.com, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before becoming a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.
Paula Kamen is the author of four books, including All in My Head, which Salon.com said “connects the dots on this issue of women and chronic pain in a way nobody else has done.” Her latest book, Finding Iris Chang: Ambition, Friendship and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind, explores postpartum depression and bipolar disorder in women. Her play, “Jane: Abortion and the Underground”—about the legendary pre-Roe Chicago feminist abortion service—has been produced more than a dozen times. She has been a guest blogger for the New York Times on migraine, and, more recently, for Ms., mainly on women’s health issues. Her commentaries and book reviews have also appeared in The New York Times print edition, McSweeney’s, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and more than a dozen anthologies.