Monstrously Mortal: Women’s Bodies,Existential Threat, and Women’s Health Risks

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Book Chapter

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Monstrously Mortal: Women’s Bodies, Existential Threat, and Women’s Health Risks From an existential perspective, and terror management theory in particular, fear of death, and the need to manage that fear, is a central force guiding much of human behavior. We use this as a starting place for our chapter, and explain how this perspective can inform both the condemnation and objectification of women’s bodies – both by others and women themselves – and consequent risks to women’s physical health. In particular, our framework sheds light on the avoidance of certain health behaviors that involve intimate confrontations with the physical body (e.g., breast exams and mammography) and also engagement in health risk behaviors aimed at attaining a culturally ideal body (e.g., dieting, tanning, smoking). Ironically, our perspective implies that existential mortality concerns can underlie a number of behaviors that ultimately endanger women’s health. In synthesizing views from existential philosophy, along with ...

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Monstrously mortal: Women’s Bodies, Existential Threat, and Women’s Health Risks, in M. K. Ryan & N. Branscombe (Eds.), The Handbook of Gender and Psychology, London: Sage, p. 399-411.