"I didn't need to know that!" : the regulation of women with endometriosis : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology (endorsement in Health Psychology) at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
Endometriosis is a condition that primarily affects women of reproductive age and has the potential to impact upon every facet of women’s lives. The relevance of gender to endometriosis is frequently acknowledged within the literature, although only a small number of studies have taken a gendered and critical stance to the topic. Using online illness narratives in the form of blog posts, this study uses a feminist post-structuralist perspective to explore how women construct their endometriosis experiences, drawing upon discourses that regulate the female body. This study found that women are regulated by discourses of Ideal Femininity, which encompasses discursive constructions of ‘silencing’, ‘sacrifice’, and a ‘disordered body’. Discourses of Legitimation involves the construction of an ‘open body’ and ‘dismissal’. These finding suggest that women with endometriosis have limited control over their bodies due to the negative and dominant representations of the female body. Therefore, representations of the female body should be considered when positioning endometriosis as an individual and pathologised issue for women. It is imperative that we challenge discourses that position women as responsible for their condition by way of being female and where endometriosis is constructed as a reproductive disorder; this could go some way to address the unjust social power relations that govern women’s bodies.