Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2016

Department 1

First Year Seminar


In 1973, ninety-three percent of all American doctors were men (Ehrenreich and English). Gender based inequity permeates all spheres of women’s health care from employment to access to treatment to biologically-based myths of male superiority, yet women once presided over the health and spirituality of their communities and their own bodies. All of the earliest human societies worshipped the Earth Goddess and respected women as holy givers of life. This tradition persisted until the rise of the patriarchy and Western “Civilization” increasingly forced women out of positions of power and rewrote the religious stories to give supremacy to male sun gods. The ancient knowledge of women and their health services to the lower class began to pose a threat to the power of the Catholic Church, the new male medical profession, and the upper class. Through the destruction of the earth goddess cultures, the witch craze, and the professionalizing of health professions, the medical system has systematically limited women’s access to treatment and education and utilized sexist stereotypes to prevent women from exercising power over men or their own bodies. These key historic events shaped women’s health care today.


Written for FYS 130: Women's Health and Sexuality.