We are now featuring the article titled “A Literary Analysis of Global Female Identity, Health, and Equity” by Teresa L. Hagan, BSN, BA, RN and Susan M. Cohen, PhD, APRN. This article summarizes the narratives of 4 female protagonists from popular novels to identify similarities between their personal and contextualized experiences. Based on their analysis, they offer suggestions for incorporating the shared female movement from domination and separation toward liberation and connection into modern health care practices that emphasize shared decision making, open communication, and social activism
Dr Hagan has shared this message for ANS readers about her work with Dr. Cohen:
The study began as Dr. Cohen and me doing something we love – reading good books! As we selected our choices, we wanted to pick books representing women from different cultures, time periods, and plots. A classic novel like Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale was an easy pick given its popularity and social commentary on gender concerns. Then Sandra Cisernos’s The House on Mango Street was a favorite of Dr. Cohen’s (and one I subsequently realized is a standard read for junior high students). Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan had become a popular film, and we wanted to read the novel on which it was based. Neither of us had heard of Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi but had seen it referred to repeatedly as a compelling story of living as woman in Egypt.
As we began comparing the four novels, we saw an opportunity to explore these books thoroughly. If qualitative research is the rigorous analysis of texts, then why can’t the text also be literature? We brought in the ideas of health equity and social determinants of health to highlight the global truths revealed in the novels as well as their rich social context. Our hope is that readers (whether or not they have previously read these four novels) feel the experiences of the four female protagonists and see how their stories speak to universal truths of the state of women’s health.
Sometimes the arts and literature give us clearer views of ourselves than reality. While dramatized, the stories, relationships, and struggles described in these novels exaggerate the day to day experiences of women the world over. If this article succeeds in capturing how the women moved from voicelessness to connected strength, then hopefully these findings can in turn be translated from the dramatic to a reality.
This is an inspiring and creative article that lends significant insight from which nurses can form practices to reach toward health equity for women. Download your no-cost copy of this article while it is featured, and return here to engage with the authors in a discussion of their work!