Week 5 Activity Post

I will be focusing on feminist theory to examine abortion in Ireland for this activity post.

Donald Joralemon examines medical anthropology in his lecture and defines a theory as an idea that “seeks to account for a defined set of regularities or patterns evident in a given phenomena.” He stresses that these theories are not merely explaining an isolated event, but the repetition of such event in a society.  However, he does mention that no theory is immune from critiques, it can always be argued that it left out important details or it focused on the wrong aspect of a situation (Joralemon, 1997). This is important to keep in mind while thinking about theories and anthropological perspectives.

There are five accepted anthropological perspectives, one of which is feminist theory. This theory focuses on how gender impacts the system that is our society. It uses intersectionality to understand how different parts of who we are as people interact. Intersectionality is exactly that, how different parts of you interact to make you who you are how they interact with each other. Third wave feminist theory, which is the most current wave, focuses on what inequalities may exist because of gender. Furthermore, this wave of feminist theory focuses on what differences exist within the female population because of class, race, and other defining factors. Other waves of feminism that are still incorporated today, such as first and second wave, focus on gaining the perspective of women. For example, women and their perspective were not included in many surveys and studies up until recently; and if they were, it was typically reported by men, not directly by the women. Feminist theory looks to incorporate women directly (Dominguez, et al., 2009). Feminist theory looks at what gender inequalities exist for both men and women, contrary to popular belief that it solely focused on women.

This theory is the best choice when examining the health issue of abortion for more than just the obvious reason: abortion is typically viewed as a women’s issue and feminist theory is viewed as focusing on women. This theory focuses on how gender impacts inequality, which is important when thinking about abortion: would men be afforded/denied the same healthcare that women are if they were to be the ones getting pregnant? Is the reason abortion is such a controversial issue because the people seeking abortions are women? Beyond that, feminist theory focuses on the differences between women, not just men and women. Do different ethnicities of women have less access to healthcare, does the socioeconomic status of a women define whether or not she can obtain an abortion? All these issues fall under the umbrella that is feminist theory making it an important and relevant theory to use when discussing abortion as a health issue. Looking at the causes for issues can help us better understand the problems that arise and how to solve them. It can help us to determine what the best policies for abortion should be if we understand the underlying inequalities that surround it and feminist theory is the best at explaining the underlying issues surrounding abortion.


Dominguez, Johnna, et al. “The University of Alabama.” Department of Anthropology, 2009, anthropology.ua.edu/cultures/cultures.php?culture=Feminist%2BAnthropology.

Joralemon, Donald. “Recognizing Biological, Social, and Cultural Interconnections.” MSU Anthropology , 1997, anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/1.1-Joralemon.pdf.

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