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Monday, April 22, 2013

Guest Post by Cody Rogers

The Hidden Costs of Paying For School:
A Look at The Struggles of Esther Lovejoy's Path to Becoming a Physician

            Esther Pohl Lovejoy faced many financial barriers to becoming a female physician. Financial hurdles were sometimes linked together with gendered barriers to form what could have been an impossible obstacle. However, Esther was not stopped by these barriers because she had a determination to escape her working class family background and gain an independent life, free from being dependent on a husband or anyone else. The lengths she would go to becoming a physician can be inspiring for us today and show the challenges faced by women who wanted to work in medicine at the turn of the 20th century. [Kimberly Jensen, "Becoming a Woman Physician," Oregon's Doctor to the World: Esther Pohl Lovejoy and a Life in Activism. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012. 33-55.]
            One of Esther Lovejoy's biggest hurdles was the financial burden of paying for school. Esther came from a large working class family and at the time that she applied for medical school, she and two of her brothers were helping their mother with expenses by working as clerks in department stores.  [Jensen, 36.] Kimberly Jensen points out that her own family felt she had taken on too large a job and while she was able to pay for the first year of tuition amounting to 120 dollars, she had to drop out to raise more money after just one year in school. [Jensen, 36] This meant that even if she were able to raise more money to continue her school, she would be with different students and be forced to start up new relationships. Esther said herself about having to leave school that, “....There were no scholarships to be won...” [Jensen, 36-37.] There being no scholarships is an important point for us to remember in today's world where students are able to get scholarships or at least take out loans.
            This financial barrier was heightened by the role of gender in the department store where she worked to raise money. In the first store she worked at, Lipman and Wolfe, Esther talks about her direct boss, a floorwalker. This man was antagonistic toward women becoming doctors and quickly came to represent all the negative attitudes concerning professional women. While her main barrier at this time was financial in nature it had become gendered as well. Eventually the supervisor confronted her about studying human bones on company time and in front of the high-class customers. He gave her an ultimatum that she would either have to give up her dreams of being a doctor or lose her job. This very easily could have been the end for Lovejoy's dream of becoming a doctor, but Esther was lucky because she had a fellow co-worker who was able to secure her a job at Olds and King, another department store. [Jensen, 39.]
            This story gives us one great example among many of how the financial cost of school, especially an expensive type like medical school, can lead to barriers of a different nature. The cost of dealing with persons in power who are hostile to women or minorities, and even the jobs themselves, take a heavy toil on people who must work to go to school. Esther Lovejoy faced many more barriers, including gendered ones such as being denied an internship because she was a woman. [Jensen, 49.] However, I have chosen to focus on the financial burdens Lovejoy faced, because I feel institution can learn from them today. While a school might be completely gender unbiased in who it admits and the way it teaches, the world is not. Therefore, it is important for universities to understand the full cost and burden that high tuition fees can cause outside of the “safety” of the university.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Guest Post by Zachary Jones

Exclusionary Tactics and the Masculine Codes of Honor: An Examination of Robert A. Nye’s Analysis of Women’s Admission to the Medical Profession in the Nineteenth Century

Robert A. Nye’s chapter titled: “The Legacy of Masculine Codes of Honor and the Admission of Women to the Medical Profession in the Nineteenth Century,” is an excellent synthesis of recent scholarship in the field of the history of women in medicine. Nye has noted that the historiography of women’s exclusion from these professions has often been interpreted through the lens of the “pipeline” metaphor. Drawing on this metaphor, (the idea that at all stages of a woman’s education, training, and practice, women have been forced to cope with obstacles that have put them at a “cumulative” career disadvantage). Nye argues that this interpretation lacks solid footing because it has the potential to reintroduce a “friendly version of essential gender difference.” Thus, because of this interpretation, scholars do not consider the culture of work practices within male-dominated professions and their effects on the inclusion of women into their ranks. It is with this brief synthesis that Nye asserts in his thesis that the exclusionary “masculinization” of the nineteenth century medical profession was a consequence of the social practices that were not originally intended to exclude women, but were set in place to prevent the admission of a “certain kind of man.” (Robert A. Nye, “The Legacy of Masculine Codes of Honor and the Admission of Women to the Medical Profession in the Nineteenth Century,” in Women Physicians and the Cultures of Medicine, eds. Ellen S. More, Elizabeth Fee, and Manon Parry (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), 141-159).  

            Within the body of Nye’s work, he asserts that aristocratic man’s historical independence within civilized society, a class based phenomenon, allowed for the exclusion of men that could not emulate the independence that upper class men asserted in the secret societies that proliferated throughout the nineteenth century. As Nye notes, such organizations as the General Medical Council, (created in 1858) were formed for the purpose of professionalizing the field.  However, they also functioned both informally and surreptitiously as they kept members accountable through “intraprofessional” regulation. Writes Nye: “There was no written code that might serve as a statutory benchmark;” moreover, men who had no knowledge of the codes were unable to be admitted, a telling insight into why women were unable to be admitted as well (Nye 145). 

            With the advent of the twentieth century, the informal organization within medical societies proliferated. Though women could now gain admission to formerly all-male state schools, they were often discouraged from participating in the non-educational facets of the profession, particularly the social networking aspect. Nye notes that women’s entrance into the medical profession during the twentieth century was followed by a “hierarchy of disincentives ranging from brutal to subtle” that were informally instituted within the masculine sociability of the profession.  In Victorian terminology, the vices of alcohol, smoking and profanity were seen as essential to male solidarity, excluding women through the traditional rhetoric of difference (Nye, 148).  As a letter to the editor by the medical practitioner J.H. Crane demonstrates, Crane and a host of other practitioners deemed women to be unfit for the rigors of the medical profession. “I allow no man to go further than I do in admiration, love and esteem for female modesty…but when she steps aside and attempts a role that she is by nature physically and mentally disqualified for, she forfeits the claims of a modest woman” (J.H. Crane, “Protest Against Receiving Females as Members of the State Medical Society,” Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal 19, no. 1 (June 1876), 22). The central theme of Crane’s analysis, that female modesty is of the highest virtue for women to attain contradicts the fraternizing that comprises the core solidarity of the medical profession. Moreover, as women attempted to participate in these social functions, they often ran the risk of being subjected by their male peers to the perception of being “desexed” (Nye 149).  

            The contribution of Nye’s work to the abounding scholarship on women and medicine is crucial in that it broadens our understanding of the patterns of male modes of sociability within the medical profession. By understanding these modes of masculinity and their dominance within the medical profession, we now have a more definitive context by which to understand the causes of women’s exclusion from its ranks. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guest Post by Mycah Harrold

Strong Muscles & Strong Morals: Charles Atlas’s Aim to Develop Strongmen of Physical and Moral Purity

“A weakling, weighing ninety-eight pounds
Will get sand in his face when kicked to the ground...”-Frank-N-Furter
[this and all other bold quotes from“I Can Make You A Man,” Rocky Horror Picture Show]

Angelo Sicilano became Charles Atlas after winning the ‘World’s Most Beautiful Man’ contest and used his prize money to develop a fitness plan [Elizabeth Toon & Janet Golden, “‘Live Clean, Think Clean, and Don’t Go To Burlesque Shows’: Charles Atlas as Health Advisor,” Journal of the History of Medicine 57 (2002): 42-44]. With marketing help from a young account executive, the “Dyanmic Tension” title was coined, the iconic cartoon strip-style advertisements were created and the pair found a receptive audience and much financial success [Toon & Golden, 45].

An interesting theme present in the print materials published in Atlas’s campaign is the idea of maintaining purity. Atlas’s intended audience, young men between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five, is not one that our current popular culture tends to associate with purity and wholesomeness. However, Toon and Golden report that by 1980, Atlas’s plan had reached 1.5 million people, the majority of whom were in this group [Toon & Golden, 50].

“He'll be pink and quite clean
He'll be a strong man...
He'll eat nutritious high protein and swallow raw eggs”

One particularly purifying practice this “World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man” prescribed with enthusiastic fervor was that of bath-taking. He suggested his trainees bathe daily and also preached the benefits of “cool baths, warm baths, sunbaths, and rubdowns,” “air and sun baths,” and “music baths.” Atlas also encouraged his readers to consider their “inner hygiene.” Toon and Golden explain that “Consuming natural, pure substances was a vital element in Atlas’s system.” Atlas promoted drinking pure water and milk and breathing pure air, which he believed would allow for one to have “pure blood.” However, Atlas was not just a proponent of keeping the physical body pure and clean; he was also concerned with moral purity [Toon & Golden, 48-58].

“I don't want no dissention, just dynamic tension.”

Atlas’s teachings have been compared by Toon, Golden and others to the advice given by Emily Post. He encouraged his readers to be cheerful and to engage in “‘light, sociable conversation on pleasant topics’ (lesson 2)” during dinner. Atlas also offered advice to curb any “lack of sexual control” they may have experienced and urged them to sacrifice “temporary pleasures” to benefit their own purity. He identified “will power as the primary key to overcoming such habits.” It seems Atlas was implying that having strong muscles and strong morals were powerfully intertwined [Toon & Golden, 52-57].

“Seal of Approval”

In 1975, toward the end of Charles Atlas’s peak and a few years after the man’s death, the movie musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show made its debut in America. In the story, unorthodox “scientist” Frank-n-Furter has created his own Muscle Man, Rocky [The Rocky Horror Picture Show, directed by Jim Sharman (1975; Berkshire, England: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 2002), DVD]. Two songs- “I Can Make You A Man” and its reprise- are rife with allusions to Charles Atlas and imply that Rocky is a similar being. Rocky, while exemplifying the other traits Atlas’s followers would be aspiring to, was the epitome of purity. He was created as such and, as Frank-N-Furter makes clear in his songs, will be adhering to the Charles Atlas way of life and remain pure. Frank-N-Furter even claims that his creation “carries the Charles Atlas Seal of Approval” [The Rocky Horror Picture Show]. While it may be surprising in this day and age to imagine a popular public body-builder endorsing regular baths and polite dinner conversation, or bodily and moral purity, Charles Atlas did just that for the fifteen to twenty-five year old men who made up his intended audience. Rocky Horror, in his own purity and commitment to the Dynamic Tension system, was second only to ‘the World’s Most Beautiful Man” [Toon & Golden, 42].