Lesbicas Negras' Ethics and The Scales of Racialized Sexual Recognitions in Gynecology and Public Discourses in Salvador-Bahia
Faubion, James D
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation is an ethnographic investigation of the bio-cultural ethics of gynecological care among Afro-Brazilian lesbians, or lesbicas negras, in Salvador-Bahia. I argue that many lesbicas negras’ pursuit of what they believe is their human right to reveal their sexuality and integrate it into accessing quality gynecological care and health education from their physicians is informed by their ethical obligation to confront the wide social issue of “preconceito.” Preconceito, which literally translates to “prejudice,” represents a social phenomenon that signals how preconceived ideas can materialize micro-social inequities and the barriers to effective and affirming medical-patient interactions for these women. This project is an interpretation of the motivations and strategies to achieve social well-being in a context entrenched with preconceito toward skin color, homosexuality, poverty, and more. I contextualize particular strategies that help these women conceive themselves as agents of their well-being as black women, homosexuals, and as bodies historicized and continually marginalized as a population afflicted with economic, political, and health disparities. Theoretically, I demonstrate the ethical as a domain of relationships that my key interlocutors have toward themselves (also with others), and as a result, I pay attention to how such relationships inform a particular set of ethical practices for the acquisition of well-being and human rights as openly black gay women. I interpret such relationships to the self to be composed of the understandings my interlocutors have about the impact that the freedom to speak about their sexuality, particularly as consumers of healthcare system, has upon their well-being. Analytically, I scale the social complexities of pursuing recognition of sexual liberty across public discourses, micro-social quotidian experiences, and social interactions. Thus, I argue that lesbicas negras become ethical subjects everyday as they strive toward well-being and such strivings can demonstrate the complicated relationships across sexual health, sexuality, racial formations, social well-being, citizenship, public discourses, and freedom (libertade).
Ethics; sexuality; race; gynecology