No. 1: Delivery Room Drama

Fodder for Progress: Caesarean Patients in The Knick by Leila A. McNeill

Mad Medicine: Social Power and Medical Knowledge in Breathless by Anna Reser

For our first issue, we explore and challenge the representations of women in period medical dramas like Breathless, The Knick, and Call the Midwife. We came to this topic upon realizing that these shows, with Call the Midwife being the one exception, emphasize the lives of men and de-emphasize the experiences of women, even when obstetrics and gynecology is the medical focus of the entire show or episode. While it is true that there were more male than female doctors and surgeons during the time periods these shows are set, it is, however, incorrect to labor under the misconception that women were not involved in medical decisions regarding their own bodies. Yet, this is the representation we are given in these medical dramas. To use obstetrics and gynecology to tell a story about scientific progress, the writers implicitly frame women’s knowledge and skills as backward, reinforcing the notion that women are irrational and, thus, need to be saved from their own bodies by the knowledge of men.