I wouldn’t call these vids a waste of time exactly, if you need something educational to listen to while doing the dishes or commuting or whatever. But for those of us who already are educated on this issue, and for those of us who understand that education is not, in fact, a reliable road to any kind of political revolution (because everything they do to us is deliberate, meaning they know what they are doing) this kind of material is very boring and rings very hollow. Doesn’t it? The assumption that education is the key to solving the problem of cannabis prohibition and restriction is prevalent in every pro-cannabis dialog I have ever heard, and this tells me loud and clear that most people do not in fact realize that what we are dealing with is political oppression and that they think it’s something else entirely. And I have no idea how to remedy that.
In her 1982 article “Medicine as Patriarchal Religion” lesbian and feminist author Janice Raymond defined — or more to the point redefined — women’s health to mean “the constant process to recreate a female environment that is Self-defined, on the boundary of an environment that has been man-made.” See pdf file of the article here: jraymond. In her estimation, women’s ability to live “good lives” in an environment that included clean air, water, food and drink; adequate nutrition, light and sleep; economic independence and ability to make meaningful choices; and friendship with other women was conducive to and synonymous with women’s health. Instead, women have been mostly forced to adapt to a woman-hating patriarchal environment comprised of the opposite, meaning environmental pollution of our air, water and food; economic deprivation, dependence and abuse; and physical, political and spiritual separation from other women.
It is from within this woman-hating context that patriarchal medicine has historically evaluated and determined “women’s health” where we have been determined to be neurotic, hypochondriac, hysterical. Well, who wouldn’t be hysterical if systematically and chronically separated from their own people? Who wouldn’t experience an array of troubling physical and emotional symptoms after drinking polluted water, breathing polluted air, eating polluted food and serving the same to their children and pets? Who wouldn’t display symptoms of chronic distress — chronic distress being the definition of neurosis — when they were in fact placed in situations that create chronic distress by way of constant othering, dismissal and outright abuse? Notably, Raymond’s definition of women’s health does not seem to exclude physical and mental disease — in my own estimation, even ill and chronically ill women could still be “healthy” or as healthy as possible under her definition so long as they were able to constantly endeavor to lead Self-defined lives outside the boundaries of chronic male abuses and notably, outside male definitions of sick people and of sick women.
36 years — nearly 2 generations — ago, Raymond published this paper in a prestigious medical journal, the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, and thereby submitted her redefinition of female health not only the world but presumably also to the community of medical ethicists, philosophers and policy-makers who most needed to hear it and would be in the best position to implement it, but what good did it do? We can test the impact of this work, I think, by asking the following questions: what happens to women who have constantly endeavored to “recreate a female environment that is Self-defined, on the boundary of an environment that has been man-made” and do these women have “good lives” or not and are they in good health or not?
Since my diagnosis with and failed conventional treatments for Crohn’s disease I have gotten a lot of comfort and knowledge from reading various online support forums for Crohn’s patients. It was there that I realized that I was not alone in my diagnosis, symptoms, multiple treatment failures or feelings of hopelessness, despair and what was becoming a seething and visceral hatred and resentment toward the medical community for failing Crohn’s patients and other chronically ill people so badly. Some forums are even tolerant if not enthusiastic about hosting discussions about medical marijuana for Crohn’s patients which I appreciate. Most of all I take solace in reading the forums because the participants are real people expressing themselves honestly and often tackling taboos, perhaps the biggest of which is the taboo against disparaging medical treatment, healthcare providers or the patriarchal capitalist medical industry in any way. Because if you aren’t even allowed to think or discuss negative thoughts about Western medicine and its treatment of Crohn’s how will you ever think about or discuss alternatives? If Western medicine is put on a pedestal and beyond reproach, what choice do patients have but to blame themselves when their treatments fail to help them and oftentimes actually make them worse?
I think the forum participants are mostly able to be honest because they aren’t doing it as a job, they aren’t trying to build a following on social media, or get clicks, or sell advertising so they do not have to toe the line of playing nice with the medical system that is oftentimes torturing and even killing them. Not so with the Crohn’s blogs. “Hawt girl with ostomy” seems to be a particularly popular genre in Crohn’s blogging and social networking as is the “Crohn’s Tragicomedy” where graphic bodily and medical horrors, daily indignities and even medical malpractice and abuse are reduced to memes. Indeed, every Crohn’s blog I have seen evinces uncritical consumption of medical goods and services (and fuckability mandates!) that are resource intensive, barbaric and dangerous; do not work, or for long; and often make patients feel worse. And while I can see the draw of lighthearted Crohn’s blogging-for-profit — it is light-duty flexible work and a good fit for the chronically ill, and it feels good to laugh — I have learned that making light of issues with political and material implications is just not a good idea in a long-term big-picture kind of way. It minimizes, normalizes and invisiblizes the harms, lets the perpetrators off the hook, and extinguishes victims’ hard-earned righteous rage.