Ciara's Reviews > Public Privates: Performing Gynecology from Both Ends of the Speculum

Public Privates by Terri Kapsalis
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's review
Oct 10, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2006, feminist-y-books
Recommended for: gynecologists, obstetricians, vagina-havers, midwives, anyone who cares about reproductive health
Read in February, 2006 , read count: once

ooooh, i loved this book. it's a totally fascinating history of gynecology, dating all the way back to the very first attempts made by philosophers & would-be scientists to understand things like where babies come from & what the hell periods are. people had some very alarming, crackpot theories. it eplains how gynecology eventually became a legitimate branch of medicine, but the weird protocols that continued to be in place--like doctors just reaching underneath a sheet that decorously covered a lady up & groping about in order to deliver babies & perform gynecological exams. you know, lest a lady's modesty be threatened. it explains the evolution of the speculum & some of the more unsavory ways in which modern-day gynecology was perfected (for example, the guy who eventually came up with the speculum design perfected his invention on female slaves--this was during the 1800s). as someone who is very fascinated by reproductive health & technology, i was captivated by this book, & i think every vagina-having person should give it a read. & also probably it would behoove other people who don't have vaginas to read it too--understand what's going on down there a little bit better. i think it's out of print--it's kind of an academic book. but if you can track down a copy, it's totally wortwhile. it's kind of like a mary roach book, almost. except that it doesn't try as hard to be funny. which is kind of a good thing.
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