JAMA: The unsuspected misogynist

Women have always been a subject of generalization, stereotyping and misogynistic conduct and medical science has also not been left untouched of this. Even now, when almost 50% of medical students are females and women doctors have moved into previously untouched specialties like neurosurgery and orthopedic, current medical system continues to discriminate and typecast women one way or other.

Esteemed medical journals that are supposed to present an unbiased and equivocal presentation of facts and evidence have been found to breach this sanctum of medical research and equal opportunities. JAMA (The Journal Of American Medical Association) is one of the most respected medical journals in the world currently. One of the quirky features that distinguishes it from other medical journals is that JAMA publishes various works of art on its cover rather than the table of contents as is usually followed by other medical journals. And rightly so, in the competitive world of medical journals with little freedom to experiment or innovate with the publications, any journal would need these offbeat ideas to beat its competitors. But as outlined in this paper Babes and boobs? Analysis of JAMA cover art where the author looked into the cover art of 50 consecutive issues of JAMA, between March 1997 and March 1998,  the author found it to be extremely misogynistic,  impractical and unsuitable, keeping in mind the views and ideology of 21st century.

In the words of author:

I reviewed 50 consecutive JAMA issues (one year), starting with 19 March 1997. Of these 50 issues, 34 (68%) covers depicted human images; 15 presented female subjects, 13 presented male subjects, and six presented subjects of mixed or unknown sex. Of the 34 covers depicting humans, 25 (74%) presented stereotyped sex images—that is, women were predominantly positioned as “objects” (of desire) and men as (powerful, strong) “subjects.” Five covers portrayed women working in traditional roles such as carers or cleaners and eight presented women with soft or white imagery as virginal, angelic, or sexualised figures. Women were depicted as submissive, with their eyes averted or gazing down, in 13 covers. Men, on the other hand, were depicted almost exclusively in authoritative roles, as religious,4 scholarly5, or military3 figures, with their eyes directly facing the viewer.

Of the 15 covers depicting women, 12 included babies and six showed nudity. In contrast, only one male image included a child and none contained nudity. In the cover depicting a man with a child, the man is not the child’s father but its doctor. Babes and boobs were featured in 12 of the 50 covers.

This paper is certainly an interesting and compulsive read and would force you to think that are we really more inclusive of women in medical field or just pretending to be.


1. http://www.bmj.com/content/319/7225/1603.long
2. https://www.aamc.org/members/gwims/statistics/


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