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A guide to reproduction Social issues and human concerns. By Irina Pollard. xvi + 410 pp. New York Cambridge University Press. 1994. $69.95 (cloth) $24.95 (paper)

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show how moral condemnation of homosexuality has led to the medical construction of
lesbianism a s pathology and to discrimination against lesbians within the health
care system.
Two chapters address women and AIDS,
one taking a global perspective on the narrow virw of women in AIDS prevention efforts, the other a case study of the historical,
political and economic processes which place
women in Zimbabwe at risk for HIV infection. In the first essay Carovano criticizes
the lack of concern for women’s own AIDS
risks, noting that most attention has been
focused on HrV transmission from mothers
to their infants and sex workers to their clients. The economic bases of sexual relations
are central to Basset and Mhloyi’s analysis
of the plight of women in Zimbabwe, who
are dependent on relationships with men
for survival.
The final section of the book addresses social policy issues related t o women’s wellbeing. Giminez argues that concern over the
“feminization” of poverty had obscured more
important issues of increasing poverty in the
population generally and ethnic minority
groups in particular. Taking a feminist perspective on child abuse, Stark and Flitcraft
argue for ways to shift the blame for family
violence away from women and the need t o
enable women to avoid high risk situations.
In discussing the needs of older women,
Arendell and Estes touch on many of the
issues covered in the volume, including gender inequities in the treatment of women as
workers, as caregivers, and as beneficiaries
of public policy.
For readers more familiar with biological
and clinical dimensions of women’s health,
this book provides a good overview of critical
feminist perspectives that emphasize social
structural and political economic influences
on gender issues. Readers familiar with critical perspectives will not find many new ideas
here. With the exception of Martin‘s interpretive essay, the collection is primarily sociological in orientation, with a strong representation of empirical studies. For classroom
use the book would be a valuable supplementary text for graduate courses on women’s
health, medical behavioral sciences or critical theory, and selected chapters could be
assigned in general social science courses.
The specialized focus of the volume, however,
precludes it serving a s a primary text in
most courses.
Fee E (1983) Women and Health: The Politics of Sex in
Medicine. Amityville, hT. Raywood
Martin E (1987) The Woman in t h e Body: A Cultural
Analysis of Reproduction. Boston: Beacon.
Department of Community and
Family iMPdicine
College of Public Health
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida
A Guide to Reproduction; Social Issues and
Human Concerns. By lrina Pollard. xvi + 41 0
pp. New York: Cambridge University Press.
1994. $69.95 (cloth}, $24.95 (paper).
“The writing of this book was suggested
by my editor” (xvi), Irina Pollard acknowledges in a A Guide to Reproduction. Heeding
the suggestion, Pollard updated the content
of her third-year biology course into a text
geared “for science and medical students,
and others wishing to up-date their knowledge of reproduction and related social issues” (xv). The “others” must be willing to
tackle technical language and should be
armed with some background knowledge in
animal physiology and biochemistry. Thus
prepared, the reader will find the Guide to
be a mixture of neuroendocrinology, sociobiology, Western history, embryology, family
planning polemics, and the Gaia hypothesis.
Despite section headings, an accurate index, and original illustrations, there remains a sense that one is reading Pollard’s
lecture notes. Some sections of the text are
superbly updated, particularly when considering Pollard’s own areas of research: male
reproductive physiology and teratology. In
contrast, much of Pollards sociobiology is
mired in the early work of Dawkins and Barash. Comments attributed to Plato, Hippocrates, and Aristotle muddle discussion, and
marginally relevant details distract. Also,
like lecture notes, there are few primary references cited in the text. Instead, ten to
twenty “General references” are listed at the
end of each chapter.
The unifying theme is reproduction. This
theme transects levels of biological organization (from single cells t o the biosphere) and
centuries of time (from the Roman empire
t o contemporary street children of Brazil).
The book is divided into two sections: the
first, Chapters 1-12, lays the physiological and pheromones. Chapter 13 discusses
groundwork for the second. The second, stress and the general theory of adaptation.
Chapters 13-20, promises to relate human Other topics commented upon include the
reproduction to social and global concerns. evolutionary advantage of the milk-ejection
Pollard’s central social and global concern is reflext (Chapter 10); morning sickness as a
the future overpopulation of the earth by the type of food-seeking behavior (Chapter 9);
human species.
the evolutionary advantage of menopause
Beyond the division of the text into two (Chapter 12); and why dieting does not work
broad sections, the book lacks explicit orga- (Chapter 18).
nization and is plagued with inaccurate
Human biologists and anthropologists are
chapter titles and misleading subheadings. cited primarily if they published in biomediThe Guide begins, incongruously, with the cal journals. For example, Margaret Lock’s
biology of infertility and techniques for as- work on menopause, published in the Lansisted reproduction. The treatment of infer- cet, is cited. The lack of familiarity with the
tility is applied, in Chapter 14, to the conser- work of human biologists is most obvious in
vation of endangered species. Chapters 2, 5 Chapter 3 which considers the neuroendoand 8 present technical discussions of ga- crine control of puberty with a n emphasis
metogenesis and fertilization. The physiol- on the effect of sunny climates. Puberty itself
ogy is then used as the basis for Chapter is described as a four- stage period extending
15: Artificial control of (human) fertility. The from a “fetal” stage through a “pubertal
chapter on AIDS (Chapter 17)has no connec- adult” stage (p. 42). The lack of cultural antion to other parts of the book.
thropological research is most visible in a
Two chapters are of particular interest for review of menstrual taboos “which served
reproductive ecologists, Chapter 9: Maternal as a n excuse for men to dominate women”
physiology during gestation and fetal devel- (p. 72).
opment, and Chapter 18: The effect of nutriThe lack of primary references in the text
tion and exercise on the hypothalamic-pitu- restricts follow-up and is most frustrating
itary-gonadal axis. These two chapters when Pollard allows the impression that a
examine the effects of hypoxia, nutrition, fact is without debate. She states, for examand activity in relation to women’s health ple, that prolactin mediates parenting beand fetal development. In Chapter 13 a n ex- havior (p. 178) and breast feeding offers
ample of rebound fertility due to “communal some protection against breast cancer (p.
breeding” in refugee camps could be used t o 179). Both of these points are subject to disinitiate class discussion.
Much of the Guide would be useful as a
The text is useful primarily as a reference
reference text for teachers of prenatal for people teaching prenatal growth and degrowth and development. Chapter 5, for ex- velopment. It is somewhat useful for reproample, concludes with Pollard’s own work on ductive ecologists o r for those interested in
the effect of caffeine on sperm. Chapter 8 Darwinian medicine. It is not a n appropriate
follows fertilization and the initiation of fetal textbook for undergraduate students. Poldevelopment with a n interesting discussion lard is not a subtle writer. Her sociobiology
of maternal and paternal genomic im- is outdated and her reproductive politics
printing. Chapter 9 portrays the placenta a s pound the reader over the head: genes have
a maternal-fetal interface. This focus contin- only one strategy, to replicate themselves.
ues in Chapter 16 with a discussion of the Humans must, therefore, outwit their genes
effects of hormonally active agents on the to control their own growth. Ultimately, “No
fetus and in chapter 19 with attention to person has the indisputable right to have a
the principles of teratology and the effects baby” (p. 305). This is a very biased Guide
of nicotine, ethanol and caffeine abuse.
to Reproduction.
Various chapters would also be useful for
people interested in Darwinian medicine, alLYNNETTE
though not the chapter labeled “Sociobiology
Department of Anthropology
and Reproductive Success.” A more useful
University of Massachusetts
socioendocrinology is presented in part of
Amherat, Massachusetts
(but not all of) Chapter 6: Sexual behavior
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410, irina, cloth, paper, pollard, university, xvi, human, 1994, new, cambridge, york, social, guide, concerns, pres, issue, reproduction
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