I believe the “culture of biomedicine” to be the western world’s view of health in terms of biology.  Biomedicine emphasizes the importance of anatomical, physiological, mental, and emotional health.  It is used to treat disease and maintain “normal” health.  Today, biomedicine is used to enhance the body in order to make it the best that it can physically be in functionality, appearance and health.  Biomedicine is the most popular system of ethnomedicine in the west.  People in the western world think that biomedicine operates on facts that are independent from cultural and human influences.  Personally, I do not think this is the case.  The “facts” of biomedicine are constantly changing as a result of changes in technology, media, societal influences and production.  By completing this weeks activity post I have come to the realization that culture and human influences greatly influence biomedicine today.  For example, women wouldn’t get breast augmentations if they did not think having larger breasts would benefit them socially or culturally.  Therefore, I think that biomedicine and culture go hand in hand.  The “culture of biomedicine” is so important in today’s society because it determines how patients are treated and how diseases are classified.  In a sense, the “culture of biomedicine” itself determines how you look and feel both physically and mentally.

Biomedicine is also made up of a series of dichotomies: life and death, healthy and sick,  nature and culture.  I think that dichotomies are unrealistic.  I believe that almost every dichotomy is outdated and unreasonable.  There are always exceptions and counter arguments.  Not much in today’s world is definite.  One dichotomy I find particularly interesting is that of the male and female.  If male and female are in fact a dichotomy this would mean that there is a natural division between the two.  As discussed in lecture, the sex of a person is thought to be genetically fixed, but their gender is not.  Gender is a role that one plays in society.  I think their role is typically determined by their reproductive organs and society’s view of what people with those sex organs should act like.  Even sex, which is thought to be genetically fixed, is not straightforward.  People can have a variety of genetic variations that blur the lines of male and female.  I think that this specific dichotomy is accepted as natural and true in our society because that is what we are raised to believe and think.

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  1. Lydia Saracina says:

    I really, really enjoy your arguments in this post, Megan. I too have a struggle with accepting dichotomy in the male and female sphere, as it seems as though (especially during this time in society), those definitions themselves are ever changing. The future societies and cultures will look back at this time and find it funny that we determine male and female the only two categories in terms of gender on paperwork, and filling out personal information. WIth that said, I do recognize what the “ideal” for male and female social roles are in our society present day. With physicians and the like using this dichotomy as a straight cut line with only two sides of the coin, much of our population would be missed in terms of proper treatment and compassionate care from many different perspectives, and therefore enhancement of life would be lost. If there is not an open minded approach to the way that people should be treated, with flexibility around the male and female dichotomy, then there are misunderstandings that are bound to happen and tension is surely created. The male and female dichotomy is an extremely black and white view, rather than giving space and accessibility for someone to feel differently. It places gender in a place that is to be viewed as an either or statement and categorization, which, in reality, doesn’t exist. There are millions of people that perhaps don’t fit in to these very specific categories, thus the care that they may receive as a result wouldn’t be proper and fulfilling. Thinking of gender as only two categories is ridiculous in my mind, as Megan has stated, there are two sexes based on reproductive organs. Even then, there are people that are born with both reproductive organs, and there is a stigma and a loss of identity that is correlated with this “condition”, as society doesn’t know how to deal with an ambiguous sex. If clinicians take the dichotomy for the black and white choice that society overly presents, there will be a loss of trust, identity, and ability to speak out and become autonomous by the people in our population and society that truly do not feel as though there is enough understanding and mobility around the male and female sphere, and not only that, but there aren’t enough categorizations in order to represent the feelings and attachments we have to our identity as human beings. We are such complex creatures, surely it makes sense that all of us don’t simply fall into these constricted categories and preconceived distinctions.

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