June 12, 2024

Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers

Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers

June 12, 2024

"Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers" by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English was first published in 1973 followed by this second edition in 2010. This historical expose explores the oppression of women healers and how medical practice has since evolved. Ehrenreich and English delve into modern attitudes toward childbirth, alternative medicine, and the resurgence of interest in witchcraft, linking these trends to the long-standing struggle for control over healthcare by male-dominated institutions. The authors argue that this struggle is deeply entwined with broader socio-political dynamics, including class politics and economic motivations. This historical enmeshment led to the persecution of women healers in favor of a male-dominated medical authority.

Despite its tenure, this book remains relevant to current healthcare debates as it provides an historical lens to understanding nursing’s evolution; our history is crucial in understanding the struggles which have shaped modern nursing and appreciating nursing’s journey toward professionalization and autonomy. Finally, this historical accounting encourages reflection on the profession’s ongoing commitment to comprehensive healthcare and nursing’s value of diverse healing practices. This book offers nurses a sense of empowerment in advocating for changes which honor the profession's legacy and ultimately promote gender equity within healthcare.

Nursing The Future™ acknowledges that nurses across this country live, work and play on the lands of our Indigenous Ancestors and we join our members in expressing respectful gratitude for this privilege.
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