For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts Advice to Women

Author(s): Deirdre English; Barbara Ehrenreich

Social Thought

From the bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed and a former editor in chief Mother Jones, this women's history classic brilliantly uncovers the constraints imposed on women in the name of science. Since the nineteenth century, professionals have been invoking scientific expertise to prescribe what women should do for their own good. Among the experts' diagnoses and remedies: menstruation was an illness requiring seclusion; pregnancy, a disabling condition; and higher education, a threat to long-term health of the uterus. From clitoridectomies to tame women's behavior in the nineteenth century to the censure of a generation of mothers as castrators in the 1950s, doctors have not hesitated to intervene in women's sexual, emotional, and maternal lives. Even domesticity, the most popular prescription for a safe environment for women, spawned legions of "scientific" experts.

Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English has never lost faith in science itself, but insist that we hold those who interpret it to higher standards. Women are entering the medical and scientific professions in greater numbers but as recent research shows, experts continue to use pseudoscience to tell women how to live. For Her Own Good provides today's readers with an indispensable dose of informed skepticism.


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A splendidly bold and readable review of medical, psychological and social theory since the industrial revolution. The Guardian (London) "A landmark work: It changes everything one believed before about doctors, scientists, and all other kinds of patriarchal experts. The most important work on women since The Feminine Mystique."--Claudia Dreifus, author of Seizing Our Bodies, The Politics of Women's Health Care "For Her Own Good gives us a perspective on female history, the history of American medicine and psychology, and the history of childhood, unlike any we have had. I have read it with mounting intellectual excitement, underlining, marking pages, arguing form start to finish with its authors in my head. It is humanly and theoretically fascinating, written with clarity, wit, and verve and with a deep concern for the future."--Adrienne Rich "For Her Own Good . . . uses rationality informed by moral insight to meet the 'experts' head-on." The Boston Globe"

Barbara Ehrenreich has written and lectured widely on subjects related to health care and women's issues. She has contributed articles to Time, Harper's, and The New York Times Book Review, among others. She is the bestselling author of nearly 20 books including Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch. Deirdre English has written, taught, and edited work on a wide array of subjects related to investigative reporting, cultural politics, and public policy. She has contributed to Mother Jones, The Nation, and The New York Times Book Review, among other publications, and to public radio and television."

General Fields

  • : 9781400078004
  • : Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • : Anchor
  • : January 2005
  • : 204mm X 134mm X 24mm
  • : United States
  • : March 2004
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 2nd
  • : English
  • : 305.420973
  • : General Adult
  • : 2005272032
  • : 432
  • : illustrations
  • : Deirdre English; Barbara Ehrenreich
  • : Paperback