Launching Dósis: medical humanities + social justice

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In the United States today, we face a crisis of health. This crisis manifests in many, many ways—from the opioid crisis and infant mortality to issues of access and deep divides about what health means, for whom, and when. Meanwhile, we watch an unfolding narrative of anger from both sides of the political aisles, and destructive arguments over issues which should be unifying, for instance, that hatred and bullying are bad, and inclusiveness and tolerance are good. Every one of us, despite our backgrounds and contexts, trudge into the last third of 2017 fatigued and frustrated. Each of us looks to a future filled with new dangers to the health of our bodies and also of our minds. We must ask ourselves: what can we do? But also: how much can I do, and remain healthy? How, that is, do we fight this present darkness.

Medicine, Aryballos, @LouvreThe ancient Greek word we today translate as “dose” (as in Daily Dose) has a more subtle and unexpected nuance. Transliterated from δόσις, it means both “a giving” and “the portion prescribed.” But it carried with it the intention of a chain reaction of giving—dósis is the motivated giving and responding that creates reciprocity. In our new mission as an online magazine, Dósis seeks to bring this reciprocity to bear on medical humanities and social justice. We cannot address every wrong as individuals, but together, working responsively and in dialogue, we can work for change.

Medical humanities as a field has long struggled to define itself, to decide not only what it is but what it’s for. Dósis will be mission driven: medical humanities + social justice. We are dedicating our platform to exploring the intersection of health, humanities, and social justice  . When in the dark, it is our responsibility bring the light, to shine brightly ourselves, and to honor the light in others. We must eschew hatred, but not by being hateful. We must resist transforming anger into aggression against the vulnerable. We do not need to find common ground with those who oppose us, but we do need to create solid ground beneath ourselves, a platform for joining our voices and make ourselves heard. Each issue, and each article and commentary within it, serves as a single portion, a dose given and, in the giving, received.

To your health.

 

Book Review: Stand Your Ground

twitterlogoBRReview by Julia Brown.

Though an avid reader, I typically stray away from one genre: histories. In the case of Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense (Beacon Press, 2017) by Caroline E. Light, I am glad I broke my trend. Stand Your Ground is a page-turning account of the cultural and judicial history of self-defense and armed citizen laws in America, written at a time when understanding how the last 200 years shaped these laws is more important than ever.  In her second book, Continue reading “Book Review: Stand Your Ground”

Book Review: Testosterone Rex

twitterlogoBRBook review by Mary Manning.

Cordelia Fine’s Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society (W.W. Norton, 2017) presents a premise that is bold in both its ambition and its execution.  Testosterone Rex is Fine’s shorthand for the set of scientific premises of the brain, hormones, and other bodily phenomena that have been used to justify or excuse masculine behavior and undermine equality between the sexes. With a Ph.D. in Psychology and a professorship at the University of Melbourne, Fine’s academic credentials are strong, and this is her third science book for mainstream audiences.  Her humor and her ability to distill complicated scientific studies into prose for non-specialist readers makes this book an important foray into unpacking the actual science of gender as opposed to the preconceptions that have accumulated over time in our society.

30231724Fine divides Testosterone Rex into “Past,” “Present,” and “Future,” with the intent to chart scientific perceptions of gender over time.  She begins by showing how, in the past, science predicated on incomplete data suggested a definite split in gendered behavior.  For example, Angus Bateman’s 1940s studies on sexual selection using fruit flies supposedly demonstrated that male reproductive success increased with promiscuity.  Yet Fine demonstrates that Bateman selectively interpreted the data he gained by breeding the fruit flies, and had thus obscured the notion of female agency in reproduction.  The “Past” section continues by arguing for the flexibility of human behavior against the stereotypes of men, able and willing to pursue any and all sexual encounters, and women, more cautious about their coupling because of the high risk of choosing a poor mate.   Continue reading “Book Review: Testosterone Rex”