In the film Taking Our Bodies Back: The Women’s Health Movement we see women educating women about their bodies and their health. Released in 1974, the film explores the medicalization of women’s health issues and how this has affected women’s relationships with their bodies. There is a noted element of trust the women in the film acknowledge that exists between a doctor and patient. This concept of trust is examined and explored to understand how far removed women have become from their bodies and their health.
While watching Taking Our Bodies Back I couldn’t help but think how far I was removed from my own body. Look, I don’t really know where every organ is located in my reproductive system, nor have I had the opportunity to view any of these said organs with the exception of an obvious few. But why did it take me this long (I’m 27) to realize that this was, in fact, something that I could do on my own without the help of doctor?
Of course no one can perform open-heart surgery or brain surgery on one’s own and these procedures are better left to operating table. But these organs that are such an integral part of our bodies and our health are accessible. I think it’s safe to say that most women are not aware of this power that they have to explore their bodies.
Author Alondra Nelson notes in her book Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination the importance of self-health amongst feminist health radicals in The Black Panther Party and cites the quotation from Norma Armour, “Know your body, know thyself.”
If women knew that they could establish some form of autonomy over their health and perform their own examinations, then it is possible to bridge the gap between body and self. Maybe if we could see ourselves, then we could understand what really was going on down below and could demystify the reproductive region. Isn’t it time, that we stop lying on our backs about this? When we have no idea what is what and which is where down there, we have to take the doctor at their word. Is this really a matter of trust? Or is it a result of innocent ignorance?