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25 January 2008 @ 05:47 pm
Need help Interpreting an Article  

Hi everyone, I just joined this community. I'm in a gender studies class, and I was assigned an article to read and lead a discussion on sometime in the upcoming week, but I'm having a really hard time trying to understand how exactly the article is relevent to the gender studies overall. The article is called "Medieval Trabecular Bone Architecture: The Influence of Age, Sex, and Lifestyle" (Agarwal et.al). I've read it over several times, and cant seem to sift anything really useful out of all the technical details. Is anyone familiar with this topic, or have any idea of how it relates to larger themes of gender studies?

suzycatsuzycat on January 26th, 2008 02:33 am (UTC)
I just had a look at the abstract, and obviously what it is saying is that based on this research, this particular kind of bone loss and fragility did not occur in women in mediaeval times, which the authors suggest is related to more physical activity and longer lactation. You might be able to frame it in terms of changes in gendered activity - what is different and why? Also possibly in terms of a tendency in contemporary culture to frame modern women as "bad" in terms of reproductive health (ie, the implication is that if women breastfed longer, or at all, they'd not be cluttering up hospitals with their broken hips in old age) - I read that somewhere but have forgotten the source, alas.

I also wonder why they've asked you to read a paper about mediaeval bodies and wonder if you are supposed to infer a need to think about changes to the way gendered bodies were constructed after the Middle Ages, when they started doing autopsies, and thinking about male and female bodies being different rather than a good version and an inferior version of the same thing, and also female bodies being constructed in terms of reproductive capacity. Go grab Chris Shilling's The Body and Social Theory for details on this - it's very helpful.
alskdjfh_1 on January 27th, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
Thanks! That actually really helps. The class is on the archeology of sex and gender (hence the bones I think). I'm a math major though, so this stuff is all foreign to me, so I appreciate the help :)