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

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Jan 4, 2005 - Social Science - 432 pages
3 Reviews
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified
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.

What people are saying - Write a review

Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thornton37814 - LibraryThing

I really did not enjoy this book with a very left feminist point of view that much. The one chapter I enjoyed somewhat focused on women who practiced medicine in the 19th century, mostly without ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - wealhtheowwylfing - LibraryThing

Ehrenreich and English look at what kind of advice we've been given for the last two hundred years. Although they provide a good deal of social, political, economic, and general background to the ... Read full review


oNE In the Ruins of Patriarchy
Two Witches Healers and Gentleman Doctors
The Witch Hunts The Conflict over Healing Comes to America
THREE Science and the Ascent of the Experts
Four The Sexual Politics of Sickness
Five Microbes and the Manufacture of Housework
The Domestic Void The Romance of the Home Domestic
sēv EN Motherhood as Pathology
The Expert Allies with the Child The Doctors Demand
Obligatory Oedipus Complex Communism and the Crisis
EIGHT From Masochistic Motherhood
Midcentury Masochism Gynecology as Psychotherapy
The End of the Romance 2004

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2005)

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.

Bibliographic information