Making Gender Visible in the Pursuit of Nature's Secrets

Keller, Evelyn

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Criticism

Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela
  • Date of entry: Aug-05-1994


Keller studies the use of gendered metaphors in science and medicine. She argues that, contrary to popular belief, modern medicine does not usually see women as ineffable mysteries. Rather, female bodies are customarily understood as containing dangerous secrets that (masculine) science capably routs, thus suppressing the fount of female power. Modern science exposes feminine mystery; it does not bury it deeper. This "predominant mythology," argues Keller, "shapes the very meaning of science." Science is the lifting of Nature's veil (as pictured on the Nobel Prize), the invasion of female space.


Fox Keller's argument may seem strained and irrelevant to medical practitioners. However, to understand what we do is worth considering. If the field is implicitly guided by images of gendered violence, it might be necessary to find new ways to think or speak about the enterprise. The argument has the most obvious implications for gynecology and obstetrics, which literally open women's bodies in search of mysteries.

Primary Source

Feminist Studies/Critical Studies


Indiana Univ. Press

Place Published





Teresa de Lauretis