Reading the incredible medical histories of American women across racial, regional cultural divides led to mixed emotions. Into Her Own Hands, the book’s title, was literally the task and burden of having to learn the biological issues of femaleness. I was not aware that medical ethics had been this exclusive in the doctor – female patient relationship. In the documentary Taking Our Bodies Back, it was abhorrent to see the lack of autonomy and consent provided to an adult human being.
Into Our Own Hands extensively discussed how many women of non-white demographics fought to include them selves in matters of feminism and health. These matters were a “part of defined issues, strategies, and services with little attention or awareness to the specific needs and perspectives of women of color” (41). Specific issues for each group changed how it embraced this movement. For Latinas, many were kept out of the abortion discourse because of the perceived devotion to Catholicism. Native American women faced a high rate of involuntary sterilization. Asian women face a whole array of issues as well. Like their fellow Latinas, they come from a wide array of languages, cultures, and phenotypes.
Being a women of South Asian decent, I am pleased to learn of an accomplishment of other South Asian women. I was born in Pakistan, but rarely do I ever hear of those women achieving national recognition in the West. Frieda Pinto and Padme Lakshmi reached a wide audience through a camera lens. But they are from India (which still makes me proud), but any Indian and Pakistani woman can tell you that we are alike, but different as well. Any women from within any of these countries can tell you how different the northern sister is from her southern sister. They speak in different dialects, and may not even recognize each other’s cuisines.
They may share a dichotomous sense of limitation and responsibility, piety and pride, serenity and fear, and family versus the self.
So while specific nationalities may be not be represented, issues specific to these women are emerging – concerns of blame for rape occurrences, access to limited education, the acid problem, and familial preference over one’s own health. Even if a South Asian woman does not experience this, she can certainly talk about it.