While our society, culture, and industry rapidly changed throughout the 20th century, medicine and its impact on culture rapidly changed as well. As the influence of medicine grew throughout the century and into the 21st century, the prominence of medications grew as well, and over time it has somehow become the “norm” to be taking all these medications, even when they are not necessary for survival. As stated in the lecture from this week, medicalization of societal problems became prominent between 1950-1985, and this is described as “the control over bodies and behaviors through medical intervention.” After 1985 to the present, medicine grew into not just the control of our bodies, but the enhancement of our bodies/behaviors through medical intervention. The “need” for our lives to be enhanced biologically has been perpetuated through our culture tremendously.

I believe that menstruation is extremely medicalized in our society. Something that is obviously natural and has been dealt with for thousands of years, suddenly isn’t something that we should HAVE to deal with, and that is what pharmaceutical companies want us to believe. In the ad below for midol, a menstruation medicine, two “midol experts” tell a girl working as a waitress that she deserves better than to have to deal with period symptoms. The cultural values portrayed here are that nothing should stop or slow women down from working, and menstruation is a “problem” that gets in the way of being able to work. The social role of the girl as a waitress is actually not traditional in my opinion, as she has a job that she wants to be able to do efficiently. The presentation of the medical information regarding the drug is quick, as one of the women says “midol has three active ingredients” to tackle more than just muscle pain, claiming it is better than advil. This implies that menstruation is an even bigger problem than we thought before, and now it requires a stronger drug. While there is no doctor/patient interaction in this ad, they still imply that you will be much better off with midol, because “you deserve better.”

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  1. Mary Normand says:

    I chose to comment on Natasha’s post on menstruation because I feel that menstruation is one of the major processes that is being highly medicalized in our culture. Our medicine is changing along with the culture. Menstruation, which is a natural process for a woman’s body, has been turned into an illness that needs to be treated. Women are embarrassed by their “symptoms” of menstruation, and a normal human process is considered abnormal and unhealthy. I feel that this is considered an illness now because we live in such a male-dominated society that women feel that menstruation prevents them from being equal to men. If they are competing against men in the work place, they feel that the symptoms of menstruation make them feel weak. Menstruation has become so far removed from the process of creating a baby. Women just think of it as that time of the month that they dread, which is why it is perfect for these companies to market to them for lighter, shorter, and fewer periods. The Conrad article talks about how illnesses will change according to the social structure of the society. Conrad says ““Psychiatric and medical diagnoses are the product of socio-historical circumstances and the claims-making of particular interest groups.” (Conrad, 560) Since women are gaining more equality, especially in the work place, they feel that their menstruation is holding them back. The medicalization of menstruation helps women who feel that menstruation is in their way.

    Peter Conrad and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories.” Social Problems 47, no. 4 (November 2000): 559-582.

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