chapter  8
12 Pages

The Human Papillomavirus Vaccination

Gendering the Rhetorics of Immunization in Public Health Discourses
WithJennifer A. Malkowski

This chapter examines the construction of women as “ideal vaccine recipients” and seemingly lone beneficiaries of the HPV vaccination. Even though the condition of cervical cancer, which can be caused by untreated HPV, is inextricably tied to biological sex, modes of prevention need not be. Furthermore, HPV has been linked to other health conditions and outcomes that negatively affect both men and women. Nonetheless, for the case of HPV in particular, the early introduction of a women’s-only vaccination defined this particular condition—and its cure—as distinctly female. A survey of public communication about HPV across policy, pharmaceutical, and healthcare levels traces how gendered approaches to this particular mode of medical intervention systematically affixed the medical gaze upon the health of particular bodies rather than on the nature of the disease. The result of this gendered moment in vaccination history is the under-involvement of men in ongoing HPV prevention efforts and the overall limitation of this approach.