This is a guest post by Elizabeth Reis, professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Oregon. Professor Reis is the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). This year (2012-2103) she is a visiting scholar in the History of Science Department at Harvard University.
The American Academy of Pediatricians recently released a statement saying that the health benefits of circumcision outweighed the risks. This pronouncement contradicts the Academy’s earlier ruling, just thirteen years ago in 1999, which stated unequivocally that the health benefits of the procedure were slim. The 1999 statement reversed a previous one made in 1989 that said there were good medical reasons for it; but a few years earlier, in 1971, the Academy had officially concluded that it was not a medical necessity. Clearly, circumcision is one of those surgeries about which opinion shifts back and forth over the years.
Welcome to the second installment of our regular feature, “Adventures in the Archives!”
In this reoccurring series, Nursing Clio bloggers will share interesting finds in the archives and ask our readers for feedback, ideas, and analysis. It’s just like you’re sitting in the dusty archives with us!
I spent most of this past June in Philadelphia, doing dissertation research at Drexel University’s Legacy Center – a wonderful little archive devoted primarily to the history of women in American medicine. Because my dissertation focuses on the ways that women influenced the development of gynecology and obstetrics in the United States, I rely heavily on the Legacy Center’s collections, especially their extensive records relating to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.
About two weeks ago, Nicholas P. Carfardi of the National Catholic Reporter, wrote a brief opinion piece and asked who was more pro-life, Obama or Romney? He argued that although Obama is clearly pro-choice, he is actually more pro-life than Romney, because Romney profits from abortions and supports cuts in federal spending that might actually increase the abortion rate. Carfardi did not go further to redefine the term pro-life or call on Catholics and other anti-abortion groups to address this term in a more nuanced and complex manner. I wish he had, because he may have addressed the hypocrisy that lies beneath the term. Look, as a self-exiled Catholic, I am very well aware of the Church’s stance on abortion. I am also familiar with the history of abortion. But that is not what I want to focus on today. The term “pro-life” needs a new definition. There is much more to being pro-life than just praying, preaching, marching, and legislating for the rights of the fetus. Being pro-life means supporting the rights of babies, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. If you are going to claim you are pro-life, then you must support the life outside the womb, not just the one attached to the umbilical cord. So, are you really pro-life?
The history of the “C Word.”
The G-Spot and junk science.
50 Shades of Grey book burnings.
Dishonoring Custer? Srsly!?
King Richard III may be buried under a parking lot.
The Japanese radical who spied on the Black Panthers.
Dr. Seuss’ colorful story about malaria.
Recently, a Facebook app came out called Unbaby.me that blocks pictures of children in your news feed and changes them to something more “entertaining,” like cats. Now, I love Lolcats and Anxiety Cat memes as much as the next person, but really?!? If we are discussing Facebook etiquette, then let me chime in. I can’t begin to count how many posts could qualify as annoying. Let’s take drunken bar pics or updates from playing Farmville or Lose It calorie counter apps or even those Ecard memes. How many are considered acceptable before they cross into “you are getting on my nerves, can’t you post something else” territory? Moderation in all things is my mantra- kid pics or other. But let’s face it: it’s a choice to subscribe to a friend on Facebook (or even to have them as a friend on Facebook), so why is an app needed specifically for blocking baby pictures?
In a T.V. interview on Sunday, August 19, Representative Todd Akin stated, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare…. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” I don’t know whether we should be livid about his qualifying rape into “legitimate” and “illigetimate” (whatever those categories are) or that he is perpetuating a myth- a horrible ignorant fabrication- about pregnancy and rape. Sexual Assault survivors have endured enough after such a traumatic event. Already, rape victims face a society that perpetuates blaming the survivor, as I mentioned in my prior post on Victim Blaming. Do we really need to add even more problems onto their plate?
The history of the condom.
Use these old slang terms to impress your friends.
Mascara used to be a lot more complicated.
The stereotype that we wish would go away: Hollywood and the Helpless Husband.
The treadmill prison.
North Korean women can now ride bicycles.
That time when Denver almost exploded.
Happy Birthday baby girl! Today you are six. It really does seem like yesterday that I held you in my arms just minutes after your birth. I remember thinking at that moment (and throughout my pregnancy) that having a girl was not going to be easy. As a historian I am painfully aware of hard it was/is to be a female. Yes, women have achieved quite a bit, but there are many individuals (male and female) who think gender equality will lead to the end of human existence, and who are hellbent on placing women within the box of inequality.
Breasts are everywhere in popular culture. This is nothing new. And yet I’ve been struck in recent years by the resurgence of the breastfeeding body in visual culture and contemporary art. It’s apparently a big deal (i.e., magazine-cover newsworthy) that Salma Hayek, Alanis Morrisette, Tori Spelling, Kourtney Kardashian, Angelina Jolie, Christina Aguilera, and many other celebrities breastfeed their babies.
This may come as a shock to some of you, but I have a difficult time talking about sex.
[I will pause a moment while my friends, colleagues, and former students pick themselves up off the floor and recover from the raucous laughter that I’m sure they just engaged in.]
Okay. Let me clarify: I have a difficult time talking with my son about sex.