Forgotten female bodies?

Although we are surrounded by images of female bodies, their biological cores, captured in their interactions and experiences, have been all but forgotten in medicine, biology, and philosophy. Anatomy textbooks generally take “the male body” as the norm; biomedical research has primarily been conducted using the male body as the basis for laboratory and clinical studies, excluding women from the prevention, diagnosis, and optimal treatment of diseases; evolutionary biology mainly considers females only with regards to their role in reproduction; cognitive science and philosophy of mind consider there to be one body and cognition, universal and the same for all, but also based on a male (and adult, able, white) stereotype. Regular events in women’s reproductive lives, including pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and menstruation, are interpreted as pathological aspects of women’s bodies and health. In sum, female bodies have been considered either as deviations of the male norm or as passive participants.

In recent decades, the implications of the gender-bias in biomedical knowledge and practices have started to be considered. Most of this work has been trying to understand how the social and historical context influence scientific research.

In contrast, we are interested in exploring new avenues of research on female bodies in science and philosophy, with the goal of integrating women’s body, experience, and active role across their life spans, into the general perception of female biology. Specifically, we ask:

What changes when we consider female perspectives, i.e., female processes, interactions, and experiences in pregnancy, breastfeeding, childbirth, menstruation, abortion, miscarriage, morphology, surrogate mothers, menopause, female-specific diseases (endometriosis, breast cancer),…?

We are interested in what emerges in scientific, medical, and philosophical knowledge when we un-forget.

And so, we are organizing a workshop (which may turn into a series of workshops).