Academic Medicine

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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181939222

Commentary: Knowing It When We See It: Reflections on Pornography

Hull, Sharon K. MD, MPH

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This commentary asks, of what contemporary use is the excavation of a specific incident of sexually intimidating and otherwise inappropriate behavior in medical education’s history? The question is posed in response to the accompanying article by Halperin detailing the publication and critical reception of an anatomy textbook that adopted a demeaning attitude toward women and featured pinup style photographs of nude women. The author contends that the generational context of feminist response to this incident and others like it is critical in shaping the current discussion. Today’s third-generation feminists recognize the injustice of exploitative or offensive behaviors, but because of a fear of retaliation or negative consequence, they may nonetheless decline to respond in an official or whistle-blowing capacity—despite efforts to normalize appropriate faculty–learner interactions and to provide safe reception for those affected by abuses of power or authority. Revisiting an incident such as the one Halperin recounts reminds readers of both genders and all career stages that violations of professional mores between teacher and learner still occur and that the price of speaking up remains high.

© 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges


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