Health care cost skyrocket, recommendations for screening women reduced

From the NY Times:

For nearly three generations, women have been taught that annual Pap smears, mammograms and visits with their doctor were essential to good health.

Now all that is changing. National guidelines are urging less frequent screening for breast and cervical cancer. The declining use of menopause hormones means that older women no longer need to check in with their doctors to obtain annual refills. Women are delaying childbirth, and some birth control methods are effective for five years, giving women even less incentive to schedule a regular appointment.

I have very mised feelings about this.  I’d love to know what others think.

I do think that the early introduction to the gynocologist that so many young women experience can easily become part of the pathologizing of the female body.  There are so many bits, and they need constand vigilance because they can turn against you at any monent.  And that’s just day to day life; if you become pregnant, little choices you make can ruin two lives, or indeed more.

On the other hand, I do not really understand the argument that the yearly screening is bad because there are a number of false positives that cause a lot of stress.  Doesn’t a human life typically involve facing the possibility of really bad news?

For example, at the age of 16 children’s brains are  not yet developed enough to give their owners the self control that adults more typically have.  And that’s when they can get control of a car to drive around.  Now there’s stress.  Or how about the stress of having a mean boss or getting demoted, turned down or even ridiculed in a social context.  What’s worse:  getting a really nasty review or having to go back to have the mammo redone just in case?  Or even having a biopsy because there is a lump.

And then there’s the suspicion that the reductions are occurring just when health care costs are receiving so much attention.

So what do you think?  I’m really interested in hearing what people think about the early pathologization of the female body.  It would also be great to hear from people not from the medically self-conscious USA.

I do remember Michael Dummett claiming that American concerns with, e.g., smoking argued a national narcissism about perfecting the individual.

Please let us know your views.

Racist tweets lead to jail

A biology student at Swansea University has been jailed for 56 days after posting racist comments on Twitter about Fabrice Muamba – the football player who is seriously ill after having a heart attack. He has been jailed on the grounds of inciting racial hatred, following a number of complaints from other Twitter users.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this. On the one hand, I’m very pleased to see racism being taken seriously. On the other hand, I’m wondering why the staff of the Daily Mail aren’t in prison on similar grounds. It’s also a bit unclear to me whether things one says on Twitter, and other such social networking sites, should be treated in this sort of way. On the one hand, using Twitter feels very informal. One can have conversations on Twitter, rant about things that have upset one, have a bit of a moan, and do all the sort of things one might do in a verbal conversation. On the other hand, one’s tweets are broadcast far wider than one’s conversations, and are in the world as public items long after one first writes them, there waiting for other folks to stumble across them in a way that one’s conversations are not. Thus they shouldn’t be treated exactly like casual conversations, but neither should they be treated exactly like pamphlets, newspapers, political manifestos, books, and so on.

I might also note that my opinion on this matter will no doubt be swayed by the content of the tweets, which the judge called ‘vile and abhorrent’. The BBC has had the good sense not to republish them. But I can imagine if they called for violence against blacks, or something along those lines, I might very well feel there’s no ambiguity about what should have been done in this case.

What do you think?

You can read more about the case here.


MaMSIE is an interdisciplinary research network based in the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London. It aims to focus attention on the maternal in current cultural, political, aesthetic, psychosocial and theoretical configurations.

MaMSIE creates spaces for interdisciplinary conversations about the maternal across different knowledge and practice communities including feminism, psychoanalysis, the social sciences, philosophy, visual and performance art, literature, and creative writing. MaMSIE aims to open up and sustain critical debates about the maternal, and explore the unique site the maternal occupies at the potent intersection between scientific possibilities, psychosocial practices and cultural representations. As an interdisciplinary network of scholars, artists and practitioners, MaMSIE is promoting a re-consideration of the maternal in contemporary culture, and is one of a number of emerging networks in the European context, with an expanding international membership.

For more, go here.