It Hurts Down There: The Bodily Imaginaries of Female Genital Pain

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SUNY Press, Aug 31, 2015 - Social Science - 342 pages

 Tracks the medical emergence and treatment of vulvar pain conditions in order to understand why so many US women are misinformed about their sexual bodies.


How does a woman describe a part of her body that much of society teaches her to never discuss? It Hurts Down There analyzes the largest known set of qualitative research data about vulvar pain conditions. It tells the story of one hundred women who struggled with this dilemma as they sought treatment for chronic and unexplained vulvar pain. Christine Labuski argues that the medical condition of vulvar pain cannot be adequately understood without exposing and interrogating cultural attitudes about female genitalia. The author s dual positioning as cultural anthropologist and former nurse practitioner strengthens her argument that discourses about healthy vulvas naturalize and reproduce heteronormative associations between genitalia, sex, and gender.

This is an empirically engaged, ethnographically rich interpretation of genital pain in a cross section of women but it is also so much more. Christine Labuski has a deep understanding of both the anatomical biomedical construction of female genitalia and manifestations of physical pain and suffering, which she combines with a marvelous cultural analysis of how entangled these biological facts are with the contemporary culture of female loathing and self-loathing. Lisa Jean Moore, coauthor of The Body: Social and Cultural Dissections
 

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Contents

A Biocultural Condition
1
Clinical Interpretations of Vulvar Pain
35
The Materiality of Absence
77
Unconscious Presencing
119
Coming Together or Falling Apart
161
Novel Morphologies
195
Concluding Thoughts
235
Collaboration
251
Notes
259
References
275
Index
311
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About the author (2015)

 Christine Labuski is Assistant Professor of Women s and Gender Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and the coauthor (with Nicholas Copeland) of The World of Wal-Mart: Discounting the American Dream.

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