College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Full Title of Thesis or Dissertation

A Feminist Analysis of Pelvic Exam Violence

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Women's & Gender Studies


pelvic exam, consent, intimate exam, unconscious exam, gynecological violence


Gynecological violence is a pervasive global issue, though it has long been broadly neglected withinmedical institutions. One site of such violence is the pelvic exam.This thesis examines the issue of pelvic exam violence, mainly pelvic exams that are conducted by medical students on unconscious individuals without prior consent for training purposes. Utilizing a critical discourse analysis of medical journal articles written about pelvic exams and consent, this paper argues that the arguments of both proponents and opponents of explicit consent within the medical field uphold dominant power paradigms of racism and patriarchy within medical institutions and education. Additionally, while legislation mandating consent is necessary, this paper concludes that much deeper change is needed to norms of medical care, education, and culture.