“Sick woman” or “half woman”? Breast and cervical cancer, emotional script and representations of female body in a mediterranean area of Italy





The proposal aims to highlight the semiotic elements of the discourse that refer to the symbolic ones of representations, and that transform the therapy in an exercise of professional dominion aimed to modify the perception of the self of the female patient through the subversion of specific emotional script. The mapping of the emotional scripts of shame and modesty, in their performative evolution, will be useful to demonstrate how and through what relational strategies the medicalization performs a gender violence which leads to exclude and self-stigmatise the sick woman, considered a “half woman”. The reflection that has its incipit in the ascertainment that the female body has been and keeps being a means of “male dominion” and object of “symbolic violence” as well as physical, and favors unexpected articulations related to a female body affected by breast or uterus cancer with often devastating effects on the woman’s self-perception. This proposal provides a reflection on the effects of experience of female cancer in the emotional sphere and in the gender relations of 36 Italian and stranger women. The research aims at discussing the role of medical therapy as a social practice of male domination that imposes a traditional representation in which female beauty is equivalent to the physical integrity and full functioning of specific attributes sexed (uterus that creates, breast that feeds). The focus of research is an analysis particularly focusing on the transformations of perception of body as Körper and the emotions which, cross-sectionally, constitutes the self-perception of Leib.


female cancers, emotions, representations, male domination


Download data is not yet available.


  1. Ardigò, A. (1997), Società e salute. Lineamenti di sociologia sanitaria, Milano, Franco Angeli.

  2. Bartholini, I. (2013), Violenza di prossimità. La vittima, il carnefice e il “grande occhio”, Milano, Franco Angeli.

  3. Baudrillard, J. (1979), De la seduction, Paris, Galilée.

  4. Baudrillard, J. (2003), “Violence du virtuel et réalité intégrale”, International Journal of Baudrilliar Studies», 2 (2): 64-81.

  5. Biancheri, R., Niero, M., Bordogna, M.T. (2012), Ricerca e sociologia della salute fra presente e futuro: Saggi di giovani studiosi italiani, Milano, Franco Angeli.

  6. Bimbi, F. (2009), “Genere. Donna/donne. Un approccio eurocentrico e transculturale”, Rivista delle Politiche sociali, 2: 251- 295.

  7. Borgna, P. (2005), La sociologia del corpo, Roma-Bari, Laterza.

  8. Bourdieu, P. (1977), “Remarques provisoires sur la perception sociale du corps”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 14 (1): 51-54.

  9. Bourdieu, P. (1998), La domination masculine, Paris, Seuil.

  10. Brown, G., Browne, K. y Lim, J. (2011) “Sexual life”, en Del Casino, Jr.V., Thomas, M., Cloke, P. y Panelli, R. (eds.), A Companion to Social Geography, London,. Blackwell: 293-308.

  11. Butler J. (1993), Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex, New York, Routledge.

  12. Butler, J. (1990), Gender Trouble, London, Routledge.

  13. Cipolla, C. (2004), Manuale della Sociologia della Salute I, Teoria, Milano, FrancoAngeli,.

  14. Clark, A.E y Shim, I.K. (2009), “Medicalizzazione e biomedicalizzazione rivisitate: tecnoscienze e trasformazioni di salute, malattia e biomedicina”, Salute e società, 8 (2): 223-258.

  15. Clarke, J.N. (1991), “Media portrayal of disease from the medical, political economy, and life-style perspectives”, Qualitative Health Research, 1 (3): 287- 308.

  16. Collins, R. (2008), Violence. A Micro-sociological Theory, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

  17. Connell, R.W. (2002), Gender, Cambridge, Polity Press.

  18. Bartholini, Ignazia. “Some consideration about the gender violence in two States of Eastern and Western Europe.” Academicus International Scientific Journal 11 (2015): 142-153.

  19. Conrad, P. (1992), “Medicalization and Social Control”, Annual Review of Sociology, 18 (1): 209-232.

  20. Musaraj, Adanela, Arta Musaraj, and Aida Dervishi. “Pharmaco-economics analysis, as a strategy on facilitating choices between health and non-health programs in the establishment of the national health care system.” Alexandria Journal of Medicine 50.1 (20

  21. Conrad, P. (2007), The Medicalization of Society. On the Transformation of Human Conditions into Treatable Disorders, Baltimore, Hopkins University Press.

  22. Corradi, C. (2009), Sociologia della violenza. Modernità, identità, potere, Roma, Meltemi.

  23. Debord, G. (1967), La Société du Spectacle, Paris, Les Éditions Gallimard.

  24. Douglas, M. (1956), Purity and Danger. An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, Routledge, London.

  25. Douglas, M. (1970), Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology, Pantheon, New York.

  26. Fusaschi, M. (2011a), “Designer vagina”: immaginari dell’indecenza o ritorno all’età dell’innocenza?”, Genesis, 10 (1): 63-84.

  27. Fusaschi, M. (2011b), Quando il corpo è delle Altre. Retoriche della pietà e umanitarismo-spettacolo, Milano, Bollati Boringhieri.

  28. Goffman, E. (1963), Stigma. Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall.

  29. Hochschild, A.R. (2003), The Commercialization of Intimate Life: Notes from Home and Work, London, University of California Press.

  30. Illouz, E. (2004), Gefühle in Zeiten des Kapitalismus, Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp Verlag.

  31. Jackman, M.R. (2002), “Violence in Social Life”, Annual Review of Sociology, 28: 387-415.

  32. Jedlowski, P. (1994), Il sapere dell’esperienza, Milano, Il Saggiatore.

  33. Kaneklin, C. y Scarpati, G. (1998), Formazione e narrazione (eds.), Milano, Cortina.

  34. Marzano, M. (2004), Scene finali. Morire di cancro in Italia, Bologna, Il Mulino.

  35. Nussbaum, M.C. (2003), Hiding From Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

  36. Pitch, T. (2013), Contro il decoro. L’uso politico della pubblica decenza, Bari, Laterza.

  37. Pizzini F. (2001), Corpo medico e corpo femminile. Parto, riproduzione artificiale, menopausa, Milano, FrancoAngeli.

  38. Scheler, M. (1953), Gesammelte Werke, Bonn, Bouvier-Verlag.

  39. Seale, C. (2002), “Cancer heroics: a study of news reports with particular reference to gender”, Sociology, 36 (1): 107-26.

  40. Shildrick, M. (1997), Leaky Bodies and Boundaries: Feminism, Postmodernism and (Bio)Ethics, London, Routledge.




How to Cite

Bartholini, I. (2016) ““Sick woman” or ‘half woman’? Breast and cervical cancer, emotional script and representations of female body in a mediterranean area of Italy”, Academicus International Scientific Journal. Vlora, Albania, 7(14), pp. 118–134. doi: 10.7336/academicus.2016.14.08.