The Long History of Discrimination in Pain Medicine
First it’s railway spine, so you’re immediately injected into this contested illness. She was a woman, which is immediately going to make it less likely that her pain is going to heard or believed. We know that is true today; I think we have very good to reason to think that would have been true at that time as well.
She was fat. We know that, then and now, people who live in fat bodies are at a much higher rate of being stigmatized, of being disbelieved, as being regarded as not credible. (Just so we’re clear, when I use the word “fat,” it’s a political choice. I’m using it the way fat studies scholars and fat activists use it, not the medicalized term “obesity.”)
And she was “unchaste.” In the late Victorian era, all these things would have been killers. In fact, that’s exactly what happened. The court basically said this woman is not credible at all. There’s no way that the amount of damages that was awarded to her could possibly be consistent with the truth of her illness. Therefore, we’re going to reduce the damages.