Abstract Since the publication of the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 1952), the diagnostic classification of mental health issues has been rooted in an individualistic view of mental disorders. Although many of the changes in subsequent editions have resulted in clearer diagnostic classification, this individualistic approach fails to take into account the context within which many of the symptoms of mental disorders emerge. While the codes of ethics of the mental health professions require a consideration of clients' socioeconomic and cultural experiences when diagnosing mental disorders, the research that contributed to the classification system often failed to take these experiences into account. This paper provides a look at the impact of social and political pressures on the diagnostic decisions made by mental health professionals, while also exploring the ways in which psychiatry's classification system has contributed to maintaining the oppression of women. The historical minimization of the effects of violence against women and the insidious trauma of sexism will be explored. Finally, the importance of teaching a contextual understanding of the DSM, as well as the impact of socially embedded cultural values and biases in regards to gender will be explored.