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Reconstructing body contours: The woman on the pill

Cream, Julia; (1995) Reconstructing body contours: The woman on the pill. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The pill has a history, and a geography, and so too do the women who swallowed it. By highlighting one specific moment in the making of the sexed body I have begun to outline the ways in which the historically and geographically located body emerges in concordance with a newly emerging society. Drawing on feminist theory (in particular Judith Butler and Donna Haraway) and recent work in the sociology of science and technology I argue that it is only through a specific anatomical narrative that we are able to delineate the changing nature of the body and the changing social ideas about what it means to be human and to be sexed as male or as female. The pill was not designed for universal consumption, but for specific purposes and for particular women. Using archival, interviews, and published sources I focus on the women on the pill in Britain, United States of America and Puerto Rico in the 1950s/1960s. The woman taking the pill swallowed a potent combination of synthetic hormonal steroids, and I am interested in exploring the extent to which she also ingested the values and visions of society. The story of the body of the woman on the pill is embedded in a complex network of doctors, governments, instruction booklets, women, Mexican yams, ovaries and atomic bombs. It is to these chains of inter-relationships, between humans and nonhumans, that I turn as I begin to unpack the 'black boxes' that neatly bound 'the woman' on 'the pill'.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Reconstructing body contours: The woman on the pill
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Woman
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106654
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