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Pain and Prejudice: A Call to Arms for Women and Their Bodies

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A timely and powerful look at how our culture treats the pain and suffering of women. 'Women are in pain, all through their bodies; they're in pain with their periods, and while having sex; they have pelvic pain, migraine, headaches, joint aches, painful bladders, irritable bowels, sore lower backs, muscle pain, vulval pain, vaginal pain, jaw pain, muscle aches. And many ar A timely and powerful look at how our culture treats the pain and suffering of women. 'Women are in pain, all through their bodies; they're in pain with their periods, and while having sex; they have pelvic pain, migraine, headaches, joint aches, painful bladders, irritable bowels, sore lower backs, muscle pain, vulval pain, vaginal pain, jaw pain, muscle aches. And many are so, so tired … But women's pain is all too often dismissed, their illnesses misdiagnosed or ignored. In medicine, man is the default human being. Any deviation is atypical, abnormal, deficient.' Fourteen years after being diagnosed with endometriosis, Gabrielle Jackson couldn't believe how little had changed in the treatment and knowledge of the disease. In 2015, her personal story kick-started a worldwide investigation into the disease by The Guardian; thousands of women got in touch to tell their own stories and many more read and shared the material. What began as one issue led Jackson to explore how women - historically and through to the present day - are under-served by the systems that should keep them happy, healthy and informed about their bodies. Pain and Prejudice is a vital testament to how social taboos and medical ignorance keep women sick and in anguish. The stark reality is that women's pain is not taken as seriously as men's. Women are more likely to be disbelieved and denied treatment than men, even though women are far more likely to be suffering from chronic pain. In a potent blend of personal memoir and polemic, Jackson confronts the private concerns and questions women face regarding their health and medical treatment. Pain and Prejudice, finally, explains how we got here, and where we need to go next.


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A timely and powerful look at how our culture treats the pain and suffering of women. 'Women are in pain, all through their bodies; they're in pain with their periods, and while having sex; they have pelvic pain, migraine, headaches, joint aches, painful bladders, irritable bowels, sore lower backs, muscle pain, vulval pain, vaginal pain, jaw pain, muscle aches. And many ar A timely and powerful look at how our culture treats the pain and suffering of women. 'Women are in pain, all through their bodies; they're in pain with their periods, and while having sex; they have pelvic pain, migraine, headaches, joint aches, painful bladders, irritable bowels, sore lower backs, muscle pain, vulval pain, vaginal pain, jaw pain, muscle aches. And many are so, so tired … But women's pain is all too often dismissed, their illnesses misdiagnosed or ignored. In medicine, man is the default human being. Any deviation is atypical, abnormal, deficient.' Fourteen years after being diagnosed with endometriosis, Gabrielle Jackson couldn't believe how little had changed in the treatment and knowledge of the disease. In 2015, her personal story kick-started a worldwide investigation into the disease by The Guardian; thousands of women got in touch to tell their own stories and many more read and shared the material. What began as one issue led Jackson to explore how women - historically and through to the present day - are under-served by the systems that should keep them happy, healthy and informed about their bodies. Pain and Prejudice is a vital testament to how social taboos and medical ignorance keep women sick and in anguish. The stark reality is that women's pain is not taken as seriously as men's. Women are more likely to be disbelieved and denied treatment than men, even though women are far more likely to be suffering from chronic pain. In a potent blend of personal memoir and polemic, Jackson confronts the private concerns and questions women face regarding their health and medical treatment. Pain and Prejudice, finally, explains how we got here, and where we need to go next.

30 review for Pain and Prejudice: A Call to Arms for Women and Their Bodies

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    This should be a high school text book and compulsory reading for all doctors.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sahar

    “A widespread lack of medical knowledge about women’s health is buoyed by a society that makes a taboo of women discussing their problems, especially those to do with reproductive organs.” Modern healthcare systems have undergone colossal advancement and development in the last century. From quicker and more accurate diagnoses to personalised care and better patient outcomes, it came as a surprise to long-term endometriosis sufferer and author of this book, Gabrielle Jackson, that very little has “A widespread lack of medical knowledge about women’s health is buoyed by a society that makes a taboo of women discussing their problems, especially those to do with reproductive organs.” Modern healthcare systems have undergone colossal advancement and development in the last century. From quicker and more accurate diagnoses to personalised care and better patient outcomes, it came as a surprise to long-term endometriosis sufferer and author of this book, Gabrielle Jackson, that very little has changed in the perception, identification and treatment of women’s illnesses by medical professionals. Evidence supports that medical students and specialists alike subconsciously regurgitate covert sexist and misogynistic assumptions about female patients—assumptions that have bled into the field (no pun intended) since the Father of Modern Medicine, Hippocrates [c. 460 - c. 370 BC] and the compilation of the Hippocratic corpus. Medical culture The highly masculinised culture of the medical field (in both research and workplace settings) has meant clinical studies on pathologies and drug efficacy have historically and exclusively been conducted on the male of a species (rodents, humans). The results of these male-centric studies have been generalised to both genders with a disregard of physiological and anatomical differences between the two. This generalisation has in turn contributed to the ongoing pain and suffering of women, who have either been completely misdiagnosed in the first instance, or have been diagnosed correctly but proffered suboptimal treatment options. For example, when both men and women presented with the same symptoms for heart disease but added a stressful life event to the mix, the final diagnosis for both genders was vastly different. Women were sent home with a diagnosis of mere anxiety whereas the mention of a stressful life event for men served in corroborating his diagnosis of heart disease. The results showed 56% of medical students/residents gave their male patients a diagnosis of heart disease, compared with only 15% for female patients. There are many striking examples like this in the book. She also talks about how female-centred illnesses are severely under-researched: “Women’s symptoms are not taken seriously because medicine doesn’t know as much about their bodies and health problems. And medicine doesn’t know as much about their bodies and health problems because it doesn’t take their symptoms seriously.” “PubMed has almost five times as many clinical trials on male sexual pleasure as it has on female sexual pain. And why? Because we live in a culture that sees female pain as normal and male pleasure as a right.” Now to touch upon workplace culture. Jackson highlights rampant bullying culture (and sexual assault) in medicine, particularly between senior and junior members of staff: “A third of medical trainees experience sexual harassment internationally.” Harassment seldom goes reported due to the hierarchal nature of the field, as for some, progression can be contingent on networking and recommendations from seniors. It unfortunately seems as though women are trapped in a cycle of abuse despite the esteem and respect their careers demand. Depression, anxiety and suicide rates are also high amongst medical professionals including women, which affects patient care. “In the US, doctors commit suicide at rates higher than any other profession.” Healthcare systems - Australia, UK, and US Jackson’s personal anecdotes about her experience with the Australian healthcare system were both harrowing and enlightening. I have an understanding of the UK and US healthcare systems (I work for the former) but I knew next to nothing about the functioning of the Australian healthcare system until I read this book. Australia’s public healthcare system is akin to the UK’s National Healthcare Service (NHS) in that it can be accessed freely or at tax-funded reduced rate via Medicare (which, alongside Medicaid, is also an option for disadvantaged citizens in the US). Australia also provides a private healthcare service that runs in tandem with the public system, much like the UK. The US, however, has no universal healthcare programme. It functions largely via private sector businesses and has an insurance/payment-based healthcare model, with employers funding their employees healthcare as a employment benefit. Despite the fact that Western healthcare services are the best in the world, they can be highly reductionist—body parts are treated as separate, independent entities from the body and mind at large. This reductionist approach is based on Descartes’ idea of dualism, that the mind and body are two separate entities. It could be argued that due to this approach, illnesses (especially chronic ones) are simply managed as opposed to treated. This differs from Eastern and holistic medicinal approaches that look at the body and mind together as a whole, to determine the best course of treatment. “Strangely or not, the best predictor of a woman’s sexual wellbeing is her overall wellbeing, which is why those issues—stress, mood, relationships—are not peripheral, it’s because they’re determining factors in whether or not she’s experiencing whatever you want to call sexual wellbeing.” However, this is understandably a lengthy process. If you live in the UK, you already know how difficult it is to get a GP appointment, and having a surgical procedure is harder still. Most NHS Trusts’ waiting lists for surgical and medical services have become heavily inflated due to COVID-19 and this is exemplified by the rising rate of 52-week breaches across the board. Healthcare and minorities As an affluent Western White woman, Jackson acknowledges her privilege. She knows that her experience with healthcare and medical professionals may not be the same as minorities and women of colour. Whether it’s poor prior experience of the healthcare system or cultural/financial factors, people of colour are less likely to receive successful treatment/patient outcomes as their white counterparts. “It has long been suspected that people of colour are treated negatively by doctors partly because of prejudiced misconceptions about biological differences between black and white people.” “Another 2016 study found that a substantial number of white medical students and registrars believed false stereotypes that black people have a thicker skin than white people, the nerve endings are less sensitive, and that their blood coagulates more quickly than white peoples.” This doesn’t go to say that all medical professionals across the board will allow biases to dictate how they perceive women and people of colour. Indeed, Jackson mentions those doctors and specialists that have helped her manage her endometriosis and other surgeries and she is ever grateful to them. What this book does do is give an explanation as to why some individuals may have a poor experience within the field, and it is largely due to historic practices and culture. Conclusion It would be dishonest to write this book off as a self-pitying feminist work. As a woman of colour (and faith) with a background in science and healthcare (if you couldn’t tell from my rambling review thus far) this work has been both liberating and empowering. There were a couple of bits I didn’t necessarily agree with, however this is due to my personal religious beliefs. My faith shapes my worldview and beliefs on gender and sexuality. To be specific, my points of contention are regarding Jackson’s remarks about female masturbation as a necessity and a healthy way to explore one’s body/sexuality. This apparently combats the patriarchal society that perceives women’s self-pleasure as dirty. That’s an interesting endeavour to advocate considering pornography addition is on the rise with women and pornography in general objectifies women (and men), leading to masturbation addiction and increased rates of infertility. I also disagree with her hailing the 1960/70s sexual revolution which perceived increased sexual agency/freedom [i.e out of wedlock] a woman’s “right” and something that should be encouraged. That being said, she does criticise the movement due to the rise of sexual assault and harassment: “[...]the truth of the sexual revolution: it freed men to feel comfortable with their fantasies of sexual dominance without uprooting the culture that shames women and people of all genders and lower social classes both for enjoying sex and for speaking out about sexual violence.” I highly recommend giving this a read, especially if you work in healthcare. “It’s everything from our cultural backgrounds, which haven’t been pro-women; it’s the fact that women’s pain is pain you can’t see; the fact that our society in general doesn’t listen to women; it’s the fact that pain symptoms are described [by women] in ways that men don’t appreciate; it’s the non-prioritising of issues of importance to women, and that covers the undervaluing of gynaecology compared to other specialities” 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘I have a disease that I know nothing about.’ I picked this book up because I saw a reference to Gabrielle Jackson’s diagnosis of endometriosis. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 1980, and I wondered what might have changed since then. ‘Endometriosis has been known as the ‘silent disease’, but that isn’t because women don’t want to talk about it.’ I quickly learned that while endometriosis was Ms Jackson’s starting point, her book is more broadly about women’s pain and suffering, and how that ‘I have a disease that I know nothing about.’ I picked this book up because I saw a reference to Gabrielle Jackson’s diagnosis of endometriosis. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 1980, and I wondered what might have changed since then. ‘Endometriosis has been known as the ‘silent disease’, but that isn’t because women don’t want to talk about it.’ I quickly learned that while endometriosis was Ms Jackson’s starting point, her book is more broadly about women’s pain and suffering, and how that is treated (or not treated). Ms Jackson points to a lack of education about how our bodies work, and the social taboos and stigmas that prevent many of us from talking about our genitals, sex life, pain and reproductive processes. As she points out, many women do not know the names of parts of their anatomy. So how can women accurately describe the location of pain when they can’t identify where it is? Add to that the fact that in medicine the male is the default human being, then it is easy to see how women’s concerns can be overlooked and (or) ignored. Writing this, I am reminded that many women experience different symptoms of heart attack from men and consequently can be mistakenly diagnosed. Or, sometimes tragically, not diagnosed at all. So I kept reading, becoming more and more uncomfortable. I remembered, too, that I’d had many of the symptoms of endometriosis for at least ten years before diagnosis. ‘We need to know what is normal as opposed to what is common.’ Women are more likely to suffer from chronic pain than men, and less likely to receive effective treatment. I can relate to this, and I know several other women who can as well. How often are men described as being ‘hysterical’? This book is a blend of personal memoir, and presentation of reasons why women’s pain has been ignored. There are also some hopeful signs of a better understanding. But then I read about the earning differential between male and female doctors, that female doctors often take more time with their patients (which disadvantages them fee wise because of the way Medicare provides a greater benefit for some consultations than others). One outcome noted: ‘In 2018, an inner-Melbourne medical practice kicked off a media storm when it put up a sign announcing female GPs would be charging more than male GPs because women’s health issues take longer to deal with than men’s, and women tend to self-select female doctors.’ So, what are the answers? Surely the Australian health system is capable of recognising that then insertion of an IUD is more complex than a standard consultation? Surely the Australian health system is capable of recognising that biology can have an impact on medical issues? And, if you suffer from an autoimmune condition (as women do, more frequently than men), you’ll find some interesting information here. I’d recommend this book to most of my friends (male and female). Many women my age and older will be acutely aware of the social taboos and stigmas, that leave us with euphemisms and vague descriptions of ‘down there’. I’d like to think that younger women are more knowledgeable, but I wonder. Where to from here? I’ll leave the last word to Ms Jackson: ‘Pain isn’t killing us, but it is denying us our full humanity. Refusing to understand this fact of life for women is tearing opportunities from our grasp. And I say, enough.’ Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cass Moriarty

    Journalist Gabrielle Jackson was first diagnosed with endometriosis in 2001 and after writing about her experiences in The Guardian in 2015, and subsequently being overwhelmed with emails from other women who had suffered similar experiences, she focussed her interest on how women’s pain is treated in our modern healthcare systems. The result is her non-fiction book Pain and Prejudice (Allen and Unwin 2019), a brilliant and powerful examination of how the pain and suffering of women are treated Journalist Gabrielle Jackson was first diagnosed with endometriosis in 2001 and after writing about her experiences in The Guardian in 2015, and subsequently being overwhelmed with emails from other women who had suffered similar experiences, she focussed her interest on how women’s pain is treated in our modern healthcare systems. The result is her non-fiction book Pain and Prejudice (Allen and Unwin 2019), a brilliant and powerful examination of how the pain and suffering of women are treated in our own culture and around the world, how little is known about ‘women’s illnesses’, the bias towards male-centred medical research, and the continuing myth of ‘hysterical’ women labelled as such because their symptoms and pain cannot be explained. In a seamless blend of memoir and investigative journalism, Jackson confronts this issue from the historical to the modern, with a rigorous and intellectual interrogation of medical culture and practice, peppered with plenty of real-life anecdotes and examples from her own experience and from women she has met in the course of her work. Labelled ‘the silent disease’ because nobody knows how to talk about it, or wants to talk about it, endometriosis is only the tip of the iceberg. Jackson explores the ten chronic pain conditions that most specifically or often affect women, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Migraine, Chronic Tension-Type Headache, Interstitial Cystitis, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Vulvodynia, Temporo-mandibular Disorders, Chronic Low Back Pain and Endometriosis, and investigates how these debilitating conditions frequently overlap and are often misdiagnosed or even ignored. She discusses the lost opportunities, lost employment or school days, the failed relationships and general ill health suffered by women as a result of this failure to recognise and effectively treat women’s health. She argues that ‘for most of human history, the widespread idea that a woman is inherently irrational and brimming with uncontrollable emotions and bodily functions has justified her subordination’ and she laments the lack of knowledge around female body parts and their functions, even the incorrect language commonly used – often by women themselves! She reveals numerous examples of how women’s pain – throughout history – has been minimalised, trivialised, ignored or mistreated. Covering everything from Aboriginal women’s health to the #MeToo movement, Jackson talks about how ‘racism, poverty, violence, trauma, abuse and stress all contribute to poor health, and women suffer disproportionately in many of these areas’, and discusses the links between anxiety and depression and poor physical health. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Jackson summarises her investigation by exploring the advances made in women’s health, and highlights some of the promising research and funding opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, Pain and Prejudice opens a frank and open discourse about women and their bodies, and urges everyone – men, women and medical professionals – to have informed conversations with each other and to vigilantly pursue improved women’s health.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Krista McCracken

    Fantastic read that I recommend to any folks living with chronic pain, pelvic pain, or who have overlapping pain conditions. A broad look at the medical field's failure to research, listen, and treat pain in women and gender non conforming folks. Fantastic read that I recommend to any folks living with chronic pain, pelvic pain, or who have overlapping pain conditions. A broad look at the medical field's failure to research, listen, and treat pain in women and gender non conforming folks.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sheree | Keeping Up With The Penguins

    Ladies! When was the last time you were accused of being “hysterical”? If you’re anything like me, it was recent, and you’re still so angry about it that you’re grinding your teeth right now. That anger is felt, understood, and reflected in this jaw-dropping new book from Gabrielle Jackson, Pain & Prejudice. Braiding together memoir and science, she explores the ways in which social structures—particularly the medical system—have underserved and oppressed women, keeping them sick and in pain, fo Ladies! When was the last time you were accused of being “hysterical”? If you’re anything like me, it was recent, and you’re still so angry about it that you’re grinding your teeth right now. That anger is felt, understood, and reflected in this jaw-dropping new book from Gabrielle Jackson, Pain & Prejudice. Braiding together memoir and science, she explores the ways in which social structures—particularly the medical system—have underserved and oppressed women, keeping them sick and in pain, for far too long. Allen & Unwin was kind enough to send me a copy for review. Jackson is a journalist; in 2001, she was diagnosed with endometriosis, and then, in 2015, adenomyosis. She has spent years researching these conditions, and the broader medical system in which they are studied and treated. In this book, from Plato’s wandering womb to the present day, she unpicks the complex social history that has got us to this point. “Women are socialised to believe their pain is normal,” she says, and she’s writing this book to give voice to the silent suffering of centuries. An extended review of Pain and Prejudice is available for subscribers at Keeping Up With The Penugins.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Noonan

    At times Jackson’s personal experience is a highlight and other times it’s a hindrance. The book is definitely about a middle class cis white woman’s experience with a sprinkling of other perspectives. Jackson seems to give more time exploring compassionate reasons why doctors don’t listen to women than talking about how it’s so much worse for people of colour who menstruate, trans and gender diverse people, and fat people who menstruate A lot could’ve been cut and a lot could’ve been added.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Annika

    I’m giving this book four stars because it sheds light on a really important topic which isn’t often discussed. Women tend to experience more pain than men in their lifetime, yet often can’t find adequate or compassionate treatment for their pain and associated conditions. This book was well researched and presented an interesting mix of the authors own experience, statistics, and insights from doctors she had interviewed. However... I had a lot of frustrations with how this book was written and I’m giving this book four stars because it sheds light on a really important topic which isn’t often discussed. Women tend to experience more pain than men in their lifetime, yet often can’t find adequate or compassionate treatment for their pain and associated conditions. This book was well researched and presented an interesting mix of the authors own experience, statistics, and insights from doctors she had interviewed. However... I had a lot of frustrations with how this book was written and the way in which it approached some issues. Overall I found the structure really difficult to follow. Not only were the same statistics and key points repeated seemingly in each chapter, a handy explainer on the main conditions discussed in the book comes RIGHT AT THE END! It would have been super helpful to present this at the start of the book so that when the author repeatedly discussed say, painful bladder syndrome, I actually knew what that was. At times the book felt dismissive of psychological illness somehow, which I understand was not the authors intention. Like, not all pain can be treated with medication and sometimes yes it might be “all in your head” or at be very least, psychological therapy can help you deal with chronic pain. A doctor is not a monster for suggesting that a woman with chronic pain that is unresponsive to traditional treatments should seek psychological help. On page 168, Jackson criticises a doctor for stating that “there is a lot of psychology, just as much as there is pathology [in gynaecology]”, yet just four pages later shares another quote from a doctor in a positive light, which states “we know there is a relationship between pain and mood, we know that when mood is worse pain will be worse... they’re interrelated issues-you can’t treat one without treating the other”. So on the one hand, Jackson is highly critical of doctors for seeing their patients through a psychological lens, but then lets slip a few pages later the importance of doing so, and indeed a few chapters later the book briefly discusses how pain can continue long after any physical damage resolves. We know that women suffer from anxiety at much higher rates than men and it would be interesting to see a sincere discussion on how this could manifest as pain. The book seemed needlessly disparaging towards men at times. Jackson makes a remark that straight, while male doctors are unlikely to be discriminated against, bullied or harassed. While I 100% agree that women and non-white doctors are more likely to face these issues, and the research backs this up, the research also states that a sizeable minority (in one study of junior doctors I found it was 32%) of male doctors reported being harassed at work. That’s a lot more than few, and to brush off the toxic culture in medicine as something that only impacts women and minorities is to downplay the whole situation. In a similar vein, Jackson tells the story of a woman who died from sepsis after repeatedly being ignored by the medical system. It’s a sad story and Jackson implies it happened because the patient was Aboriginal and female, however I can think of two recent cases where the symptoms of teenage white boys were brushed off by the medical system and they ended up dying of preventable illness. To frame this as just a women’s issue overlooks the broader picture of the flawed system that doctors operate in (even if women may be more likely to suffer because of it) and how this could be addressed. Okay one last point - there was no discussion of the current opioid crisis and how this might be playing into doctors reluctance to treat pain with medication or take reports of pain seriously. I know you can’t cover everything in one book, but I suspect it’s another one of those bigger factors contributing to women’s poorer outcomes, which again was not mentioned at all. I want to reiterate that overall this book was enjoyable and informative and I recommend reading it. I just feel like it could have been a lot better if it were structured more clearly and there was a better appreciation for the bigger picture, rather than distilling the main message down to “women experience pain and it’s because of the patriarchy and misogyny”. I felt a similar way after reading Invisible Women so maybe I just have an issue with books that report on data...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brianna Bell

    A very valuable read, and one that was highly engaging. By a hundred pages in I had already sworn, cackled and rolled my eyes inadvertently at various times. This isn’t just a book for women either. Everyone should read it. You will learn so much. And probably even laugh a little. (Also a note on “women” - the author addresses gendered language in her introduction). A few warnings particularly if you’re reading as a disabled person. While I enjoyed the book on the whole, the author is clearly not A very valuable read, and one that was highly engaging. By a hundred pages in I had already sworn, cackled and rolled my eyes inadvertently at various times. This isn’t just a book for women either. Everyone should read it. You will learn so much. And probably even laugh a little. (Also a note on “women” - the author addresses gendered language in her introduction). A few warnings particularly if you’re reading as a disabled person. While I enjoyed the book on the whole, the author is clearly not au fait with disability activism (nor does she purport to be). A number of points in the book (e.g. p 313, 321) note that “pain doesn’t kill”, despite the book not drawing in any research regarding links between chronic pain and suicidal ideation. Failing to accurately identify the cause of suicide makes it impossible to accurately measure the impact of health conditions (historically this was an issue for deaths caused by cancer which were nevertheless recorded as acute issues like septicaemia). Complying with this flawed system perpetuates the dismissal of chronic pain by the medical system and limits our advocacy. Additionally, a warning that autism and ADHD are implicitly classed as “psychiatric and academic problems” made more prevalent by “sperm...corrupted by DNA damage” in older fathers (p154). As I said, nevertheless a very valuable book and highly engaging to read. [Cover description: The title is “Pain and Prejudice” in large red text with nails sticking into it. Its surtitle is “a call to arms for women and their bodies”. The author is Gabrielle Jackson. The cover also features a floral representation of a female reproductive system. The endorsement featured in the bottom right corner on the cover is “This book is a brilliant, blood-drenched page turner. Every girl, woman and man—and most particularly every doctor—should read it.” Emily Wilson, Editor at New Scientist].

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carol - Reading Writing and Riesling

    Read this book! A powerful read. Its spotlight on Endometriosis week - Endo - read this book!

  11. 5 out of 5

    kate

    You know what, this book took me a LONG fucking time to get through because of uni and work and the general 2020 climate, but it really did not leave my mind the entire time. In fact, I was recommending it to people even when I had barely scratched the surface of it. Pain and Prejudice is powerful, insightful and passionately written, and it unpacks ever facet of sexism, both historically and currently, embedded in health care’s perception of female health and chronic pain. As someone going into You know what, this book took me a LONG fucking time to get through because of uni and work and the general 2020 climate, but it really did not leave my mind the entire time. In fact, I was recommending it to people even when I had barely scratched the surface of it. Pain and Prejudice is powerful, insightful and passionately written, and it unpacks ever facet of sexism, both historically and currently, embedded in health care’s perception of female health and chronic pain. As someone going into the health field, it was transformative in some ways to read this and know I can apply the knowledge to my future. It makes me want to become more knowledgeable in pelvic floor physio/women’s health physio and contribute to a change in the burden of disease and illness in our population. I screenshotted so many great quotes from Jackson’s writing, and I know they will stick with me for a long time. Not to mention, she does a pretty great job at acknowledging the range of genders and sexes who experience issues with female biological health, and the role of intersectionality in these issues. I wish this was a mandatory read for anyone working in health. It really is that good.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    As a woman suffering from auto-immune disease Hashimoto that took years to diagnose, I feel profoundly understood by this book. Hopping from doctor to doctor, hoping for someone to shed light on my symptoms or just something as simple as listen to me, just to be brushed off or hear over and over again that I'm "just stressed", took quite a toll on my mental health. I felt alone and misunderstood – until this book opened my eyes to how much of a problem this is for so many women out there, most of As a woman suffering from auto-immune disease Hashimoto that took years to diagnose, I feel profoundly understood by this book. Hopping from doctor to doctor, hoping for someone to shed light on my symptoms or just something as simple as listen to me, just to be brushed off or hear over and over again that I'm "just stressed", took quite a toll on my mental health. I felt alone and misunderstood – until this book opened my eyes to how much of a problem this is for so many women out there, most of them being labeled as "hysterical", not getting enough attention or treatment for their pain or suffering, nor science stepping away from its approach to reductionist medicine and investing properly into understanding chronic pain conditions. I feel less alone now; but it's also time that things change. (Minus one star for structure and some repetition.)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Briar Wyatt

    I found the chapter on COVID-19 and potential (positive) impacts of this pretty inspiring and there were a few interesting tidbits but mostly I think I’ve had my head stuck into chronic illness research for a decade due to well..... being chronically ill for a decade so a lot of this is repetition for me personally. I hope doctors and maybe friends of chronically ill people who want a glimpse in will read this (mainly doctors tho)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie Goldey

    This book is easy to read, captivating, and important. It’s a book that everyone with a woman in their life should read! I found it incredibly validating and full of the words and explanations I never knew I so deeply needed to hear. Five stars!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rosie Kirk

    This is a very important topic and a good book, and there are many people I would recommend it to. I was particularly fascinated by the statistics and studies it discusses (as anyone who’s spoken to me about any tangentially related topic in the last few weeks has found out), and its discussion of how medical education can and should change. I always have trouble objectively rating medical books written for non-medical audiences - there are inevitably frustrations with the way some concepts are This is a very important topic and a good book, and there are many people I would recommend it to. I was particularly fascinated by the statistics and studies it discusses (as anyone who’s spoken to me about any tangentially related topic in the last few weeks has found out), and its discussion of how medical education can and should change. I always have trouble objectively rating medical books written for non-medical audiences - there are inevitably frustrations with the way some concepts are communicated, and I often feel a bit like I’m reading a textbook. This book had some of these features, and conversely there were some structural and written elements that I felt may be prohibitive to those with low health literacy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Larissa

    “Women's pain is all too often dismissed, their illnesses misdiagnosed or ignored. In medicine, man is the default human being. Any deviation is atypical, abnormal, deficient.” Pain and Prejudice: a Call to Arms for Women and their Bodies by Gabrielle Jackson is a story close to my heart. As someone with adenomyosis and IBS, chronic pain is something I’m very familiar with. This was a very eye-opening book, speaking of the history of female health care and the inherent sexism that is still in it “Women's pain is all too often dismissed, their illnesses misdiagnosed or ignored. In medicine, man is the default human being. Any deviation is atypical, abnormal, deficient.” Pain and Prejudice: a Call to Arms for Women and their Bodies by Gabrielle Jackson is a story close to my heart. As someone with adenomyosis and IBS, chronic pain is something I’m very familiar with. This was a very eye-opening book, speaking of the history of female health care and the inherent sexism that is still in it today. I can only hope more and more attention will be brought to this topic, so that there will finally be proper solutions to this immense problem in our health care systems.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lilli

    This was a great read and explained so much about the systemic gender bias in healthcare. I appreciated so much seeing endo described as the debilitating disease it is. I also learned a lot about why the medical profession has the attitudes it does toward people (namely, women, non-binary and trans people) with chronic pain. I felt both seen and incensed at the same time. I wish every doctor had to read this book. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the way the healthcare system treats This was a great read and explained so much about the systemic gender bias in healthcare. I appreciated so much seeing endo described as the debilitating disease it is. I also learned a lot about why the medical profession has the attitudes it does toward people (namely, women, non-binary and trans people) with chronic pain. I felt both seen and incensed at the same time. I wish every doctor had to read this book. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the way the healthcare system treats anyone who isn’t a white, cis-male and the history behind the implicit bias in healthcare.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alyce Caswell

    Very thought-provoking and downright concerning. The author's personal journey with chronic pain provides a credible voice here, though part of me wishes there had been more examples involving other women. Very thought-provoking and downright concerning. The author's personal journey with chronic pain provides a credible voice here, though part of me wishes there had been more examples involving other women.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bec

    This book was really good. It took me a really long time to read because it made me really, really sad. I am a female medical student with a chronic pelvic pain diagnosis so this book described the failings of my future career in an area of medicine that directly impacts my health. A really important read, would recommend for anyone with or without a uterus.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    Deeply grateful to Gabrielle! This brilliant book detailing the gender gap in medicine helped me recognise the systemic issues that led to my repeatedly unsuccessful attempts to get help. Having suffered for 24 years with endometriosis and only just getting a diagnosis 2 months ago this book armed me with the research and historical context to comprehend the enormity of injustice that not only affected myself but so many women and people with reproductive organs! Despite the harrowing statistics Deeply grateful to Gabrielle! This brilliant book detailing the gender gap in medicine helped me recognise the systemic issues that led to my repeatedly unsuccessful attempts to get help. Having suffered for 24 years with endometriosis and only just getting a diagnosis 2 months ago this book armed me with the research and historical context to comprehend the enormity of injustice that not only affected myself but so many women and people with reproductive organs! Despite the harrowing statistics and shocking information within, it is an inspiring book that drives a desire in me to speak out and work towards transforming this mad reality!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    Love

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chloe Anderson

    I don’t usually write reviews on here, but this book ended up being a lot more interesting than I expected. Having a chronic illness myself, I thought I knew pretty much all there is to know about it and god was I wrong. The research and figures within this book completely shocked me and not to mention quotes directly from GPs. Before reading this I was already very skeptical of the healthcare system and it’s approach to chronic illnesses because of one too many strange remarks and awkward appoi I don’t usually write reviews on here, but this book ended up being a lot more interesting than I expected. Having a chronic illness myself, I thought I knew pretty much all there is to know about it and god was I wrong. The research and figures within this book completely shocked me and not to mention quotes directly from GPs. Before reading this I was already very skeptical of the healthcare system and it’s approach to chronic illnesses because of one too many strange remarks and awkward appointments with the GP. I have been told so many times that fibromyalgia is all in my head and for a long time I believed it. My mum had the same experiences. After reading this it sparked discussions between me and my mum about her diagnosis journey and the hardships she faced. And through Jackson’s account of her experience with endometriosis my mum and I were able to comfortably talk about her other overlapping conditions. I didn’t realise how many more conditions she had and I’ve gained so much more respect for her. I think women, doctors, everyone should give this a read whether that’s to better understand yourself and your body to more comfortably describe problems to doctors - I’ll admit before reading this I was totally uncomfortable with ever discussing “lady problems” to a doctor which is just ridiculous and maybe if I did mention it I would have had an earlier diagnosis - or to be more aware of the issues present within medicine that often go overlooked.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Franzi Oberrauter

    I won't go into too much detail why "Pain and Prejudice: A Call to Arms for Women and their Bodies" should be recommended reading for human beings with female reproductive organs and health practitioners alike. It's an engaging and highly valuable read; it facilitates a thought-provoking dicourse about female representation (or lack thereof) in medicine and science. Jackson opens a discussion into improvements for individuals with reproductive organs (Cudos to her for using inclusive language!), I won't go into too much detail why "Pain and Prejudice: A Call to Arms for Women and their Bodies" should be recommended reading for human beings with female reproductive organs and health practitioners alike. It's an engaging and highly valuable read; it facilitates a thought-provoking dicourse about female representation (or lack thereof) in medicine and science. Jackson opens a discussion into improvements for individuals with reproductive organs (Cudos to her for using inclusive language!), quote: "Pain isn’t killing us, but it is denying us our full humanity. Refusing to understand this fact of life for women is tearing opportunities from our grasp. And I say, enough." What a enjoyable and informative read!

  24. 5 out of 5

    maces

    Absolutely fantastic book. I think almost everyone should read The book gives such a fantastic primer on women's health - the normal physiology of a woman's hormones and reproductive cycle. And the common things that can go wrong. Then, she delves in to the history of "women's health" and the historical reasons why women have always been treated differently, and how that looks today. I'm a GP with a special interest in women's health, and biopsychosocial medicine. This book reinforced some stuff I Absolutely fantastic book. I think almost everyone should read The book gives such a fantastic primer on women's health - the normal physiology of a woman's hormones and reproductive cycle. And the common things that can go wrong. Then, she delves in to the history of "women's health" and the historical reasons why women have always been treated differently, and how that looks today. I'm a GP with a special interest in women's health, and biopsychosocial medicine. This book reinforced some stuff I already knew, taught me some new things (history of hysteria) and helped me clarify some other things in my head too. Highly recommended.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lara

    This was a bloody great read! It delved into the history, politics and current day reality of government & medicine’s negligence of (bipoc) women’s health. Not only did the plethora of statistics and references highlight the four in-depth years it took to research, it’s given me great sources for further research

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shima

    Here are the basics: - Diseases that mostly affect women are among the least-researched and least-diagnosed and worst-treated illnesses. - When research has been conducted on these (female-dominant) conditions, it's used male rats, male cells, and male humans. - When women go to doctors with symptoms like persistent pain and fatigue, they are often dismissed as unreliable narrators of their own experiences and given psychological diagnoses. -"Women of colour are often written off as drug seekers Here are the basics: - Diseases that mostly affect women are among the least-researched and least-diagnosed and worst-treated illnesses. - When research has been conducted on these (female-dominant) conditions, it's used male rats, male cells, and male humans. - When women go to doctors with symptoms like persistent pain and fatigue, they are often dismissed as unreliable narrators of their own experiences and given psychological diagnoses. -"Women of colour are often written off as drug seekers. Poor women are suspected of wanting to get out of work. Rich women are perfectionists or merely anxious. Overweight women just need to lose weight. People who are gender transitioning have hormonal issues." - This leaves millions of women to live with misdiagnosed chronic pain for years. Are you mad yet? Gabrielle Jackson makes a case for how systematic sexism in medicine, policies and society as a whole keeps women's pains from being taken seriously, researched and treated, even when it is costing governments billions of dollars in healthcare and lost productivity each year. "Along with religion and politics, medicine has historically played an integral role in policing and controlling women." There are chapters on sex, menopause, the history of hysteria and its modern counterparts and of course, on chronic pain conditions with a focus on Endometriosis, with which the author has personal experience. It's filled with enraging statistics and facts that are sadly too easy to believe. Like how medical conditions that affect millions of people remain underfunded and overlooked in medical schools because those people are mainly women (and others who menstruate). While parts of the book become very repetitive, and the best writing is found largely in the quotations, it is an important book for anyone working in the healthcare industry in any capacity (get this for medical students, and nurses and doctors and researchers) as well as those dealing with chronic pain and the various ways in which the healthcare industry has failed, discredited and misunderstood them. As for the general public, while I do think this is an extremely important topic, I don't think this is the best written sciece book on the female body and expeirnece in a more general sense. Instead of reading this, I'd suggest searching for the authors' articles on this topic and speding your time on other science books (By all means though, if you're interested go ahead!). Rating: 5 stars for contnt, 3 stars for writing and strcutre.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    If you're female, you'll probably already have experienced the mild frustration of going to a doctor and having your issue/s either dismissed, downplayed or, at worst, passed off as 'normal', 'psychosomatic' or even imagined. Some of us have wonderful GPs who work really hard, but as this book demonstrates, the system within which they work has been skewed towards men from classical times and remains so today. Perhaps the information I found most surprising was that up until about 10 years ago, If you're female, you'll probably already have experienced the mild frustration of going to a doctor and having your issue/s either dismissed, downplayed or, at worst, passed off as 'normal', 'psychosomatic' or even imagined. Some of us have wonderful GPs who work really hard, but as this book demonstrates, the system within which they work has been skewed towards men from classical times and remains so today. Perhaps the information I found most surprising was that up until about 10 years ago, almost all clinical trials for new drugs were run primarily on men or male animals with the assumption that if it worked for them, it would work for everyone. The author, a long term sufferer of endometriosis, is no stranger to an indifferent health system. In this book, she outlines a lot of the issues which women with chronic pain or indeterminate illnesses face in such a system as ours. She is at pains to state that she is in no way blaming individual doctors. Rather, she takes a birds-eye view of the entire system and how it has been set up. There are some fascinating facts in this book - I'm almost ashamed to say that when she clearly explained the female reproductive system, even I learned things about myself I didn't know. And I have had two children! But, as she said, we're never really taught even as young girls so why would any of us be expected to know about something which we're led to believe we should be embarrassed about? For that chapter alone this book earned its stars. It gets bogged down with statistics and facts at the end (which is why it took me so long to finish) but it is still a really interesting read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Thuhufa

    Books about how deeply prejudiced against women and gender diverse people the medical industry is, are always important. This one was particularly good at providing an Australian context to these issues, with an in-depth analysis of the longstanding, deeeeply ingrained cultural and structural issues in the Australian medical industry - from education and training, all the way to how our Medicare system (the ever revered green card of Australia). Gabrielle Jackson provides lots of data from Medic Books about how deeply prejudiced against women and gender diverse people the medical industry is, are always important. This one was particularly good at providing an Australian context to these issues, with an in-depth analysis of the longstanding, deeeeply ingrained cultural and structural issues in the Australian medical industry - from education and training, all the way to how our Medicare system (the ever revered green card of Australia). Gabrielle Jackson provides lots of data from Medicare item codes to interviews with health professionals and patients to show us how Medicare fails to incentivise doctors to train in, focus on or even care about women’s health. How this system further widens the gap in care not only faced by patients, but the opportunities in advancement for doctors who deign to specialise in these areas. In a world where we’ve had to pay attention to our health more keenly than ever before, knowing as much as we can about our bodies and encouraging the (archaic, patriarchal) medical institutions to reform seems more important than ever. The effects of alienating people within the healthcare system are evident in our society with growing pockets of people hanging onto misinformation, choosing alternate, harmful treatments and spreading this mistrust of the healthcare system. Women and gender diverse people have been gaslit by the medical industry for so long and this book provides a good understanding of the historical timeline of this leading up to do. Read to be fuelled with anger, and hopefully to become a slightly better advocate for yourself.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    THIS BOOK IS SO IMPORTANT. This is a necessary read for women, girls, people with female anatomy (even if they don't identify as female themselves), and doctors of all genders. It gives such insight into the female body and inner working of the female reproductive system and chronic pain conditions that are specific to female bodies (like endometriosis and vulvodynia) and general chronic pain conditions that affect women more than men (like fibromyalgia and IBS). This focus on medical conditions THIS BOOK IS SO IMPORTANT. This is a necessary read for women, girls, people with female anatomy (even if they don't identify as female themselves), and doctors of all genders. It gives such insight into the female body and inner working of the female reproductive system and chronic pain conditions that are specific to female bodies (like endometriosis and vulvodynia) and general chronic pain conditions that affect women more than men (like fibromyalgia and IBS). This focus on medical conditions that mostly affect women and the research Gabrielle Jackson has done makes it educational and extra scientific, as she highlights how these conditions have been historically overlooked by the medical community and culture, and how because of multiple factors - but particularly a lack of proper listening and believing of women by doctors - women have been misdiagnosed, it has taken years for conditions to actually be diagnosed, and there is a mistrust between women and doctors/hospitals/the medical community. This book really made me feel seen as someone who experiences pain constantly as a woman, and is looking to get a diagnosis based on that pain, which I think to be endometriosis. It gave me a better understanding of chronic pain and women's bodies and how they handle and experience pain. It seems that Gabrielle Jackson is passionate about the subject of chronic pain and women's pain as I got that feeling reading the book. I just found it to be a great read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Niki Malysiak

    Pain and Prejudice: A Call to Arms for Women and Their Bodies is an in depth analysis of the un-intentional bias of the medical field against women. It weaves through different medical fields and examines the history of female treatment and the social taboos that were implemented when the female body did not act the same as the male. I picked up this book due to the strong ties with endometriosis and was not disappointed. This book details the differences in treatment for men and women, but in a Pain and Prejudice: A Call to Arms for Women and Their Bodies is an in depth analysis of the un-intentional bias of the medical field against women. It weaves through different medical fields and examines the history of female treatment and the social taboos that were implemented when the female body did not act the same as the male. I picked up this book due to the strong ties with endometriosis and was not disappointed. This book details the differences in treatment for men and women, but in a more scientific and logical way. There are statistics to back up arguments and written in a very scientific style. While it was a formal write, the language used is very straight forward and easy to understand. While I did enjoy the book, I did find it very repetitive and only focusing on a small portion of the medical field. Towards the end of the book, I wanted a bit more from it and felt like I was re-reading topics that I had already looked at. Overall I give it 3.5/5 stars. The content was interesting and it was a very straight forward read. Unfortunately, it was very repetitive, and I felt as though the parts that were repeated could have looked at different issues in the medical industry instead. I would recommend as a read for everyone though as I think the key points from the book are very important.

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