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A Short History of the Penis, Masculinity, and American Feminism

By Lauren MacIvor Thompson

If you haven't heard of Claire Wyckoff, the San Francisco woman who copywrites by day for a global advertising firm and in her spare time maps runs that look like penises (or other stuff) around town using the NikePlus app, head over to her Tumblr right now. Seriously, right now. We'll wait.

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The Body as Archive

By Andrea Milne

Trying to become a public historian and freelance writer in grad school is requiring me to walk a difficult tightrope. I want to be as authentic as humanly possible, but I'm also a professor-in-training; I don't want to put anything out into the world that I would have trouble explaining to a hiring committee, to my colleagues, or to my students. As a result, I often find myself debating the merits of a post. The problem with this particular brand of censorship is that it's entirely too fuzzy. I haven't articulated to myself what constitutes fair game. How personal do I want to get? How personal do I need to get? That's why, on August 28 -- after much hemming and hawing -- I ultimately decided to write about a medical procedure I was about to undergo. I want to live in a world where academics living with disabilities aren't afraid to "come out" for fear of the cultural and institutional ableism to which it would expose them. Telling my own story is a risky, but necessary, step in that process.

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Advertising Hormonal Contraception: Medicalizing the Natural

By Nicole Lock

In recent years, there has been great debate about access to contraception, particularly the hormonal birth control pill. In 1957, the first hormonal birth control pill was approved by the FDA for severe menstrual disorders, in 1960 it was approved for contraceptive use, and by 1965 it had been legalized for married couples by the Supreme Court. It wasn't until 1972 when the Pill was approved for adult women regardless of marital status.

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Adventures in the Archives: The Dangers of Legal Abortion

by Kimberlyn Kasperitis

This summer I worked with Professor Carolyn Herbst Lewis and three other students on a research project in which we explored the history of reproductive health care in Chicago. Part of our summer included a trip to Chicago to do archival research on our subjects, and, after a month of pouring over secondary research, I was nowhere near having a thesis or a direction for a paper, which was supposed to have something, anything, to do with abortion services. I knew going into the project that, given the socially charged and complicated nature of the subject, it would challenge me both academically and emotionally, but I had no idea of the frustrations that this project would give me. When we arrived in Chicago, I made the decision to take a step back and see if any of the primary sources I was interested in would speak to me and steer me in the right direction. Even so, as I stepped into the unexpectedly warm and brightly lit Northwestern University archives, I was admittedly pessimistic about whether any of the sources I requested would be of any use. What I did not expect to discover were materials that would give me chills and move me as emotionally as some of these materials did.

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Is Pop Culture Replacing Sex Education?

By Corinne Yank

According to the documentary, “Lets Talk About Sex”, 10,000 teens catch a sexually transmitted disease, 2,400 teen girls get pregnant, and 55 young people are infected with HIV in the US every day. Meanwhile, despite these alarming statistics, our educational and political culture blurs, obscures, and shrouds discussions of sex with denial, systematically oppressing comprehensive and preventative sex education within institutional settings. According to a study done in 2002 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, comprehensive sex ed is declining in middle and high schools across the majority of the United States. And despite the fact that around 46% of high schoolers were found to be sexually active, many state programs focus primarily on promoting abstinence, rather than providing teens with real answers and options to reduce their risk and engage in safer sex.

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Collective Fat Awareness in 1950s America: Wishful Shrinkers or Cheerful Cherubs?

By Jessica Parr

I recently returned to New Zealand, the country where I grew up and met with a childhood friend for a long overdue catch over coffee. The conversation turned to my doctoral research and how my recent research trip to the Midwest had gone. As I recounted my archive adventures and my delight at finding such a wealth of popular literature concerning obesity from the late 1940s, my long-time friend looked up and exclaimed: was obesity a problem in the 1950s? This is not the first time this question has been posed to me with such surprise. We can be forgiven for assuming that widespread concern for weight management is a relatively recent phenomenon with World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheets presenting obesity as a health conundrum from the late twentieth century.

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The Hystericization of “Garbage Bag Diagnoses”

by Cara Jones

On April 24, 2014, radio and TV personality Dr. Drew Pinsky, a board-certified internist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Southern California, fielded a question on the syndicated radio show Loveline from a man named Kelan whose fiancée had what he called a “multitude of conditions:” endometriosis, Interstitial Cystitis, lactose intolerance, and “no stomach lining” (0:30:07 to 0:32:51). Before the caller could ask his question, Pinsky interjected:

These are what we call sort of functional disorders. Everything you mentioned,
everything you mentioned, are things that actually aren't discernibly pathological.
They're sort of — they're what we call "garbage bag diagnoses," when you can't think
of anything else, you go, "Eh, well it's that." So, it then makes me question why is she
so somatically preoccupied that she's visiting doctors all the time with pains and
urinary symptoms and pelvic symptoms, and then that makes me wonder, was she
sexually abused growing up?

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The Feminist Fork

By Renee Gross

Like so many people, I have a complicated relationship with food. I’ve eaten out of anger, sadness, or excitement. At times, food connects me with people and places. I’ve even gone so far as to have mistaken food for love. Other times, shame accompanies me while I eat and comments over what I ate, how I ate, and how much I ate. I’ve associated food with the monotony of daily life and then turned around and claimed food as the most joyous part of life: the part that makes life worth living. But that only seems to scratch the surface of what I’m trying to understand in my new podcast about the intersections of food and feminism.

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A Doula in Every Birthing Suite

By Paula A. Michaels

The question of the contraceptive mandate has garnered the lion’s share of attention regarding the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on women’s health services, most notably in the recent Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College decisions. As unquestionably important and pressing as these issues are, what has earned virtually no discussion is the opportunity that the ACA offers to improve the quality of care for women who choose to become pregnant. The potential for doulas—trained, experienced labor companions—to significantly improve health outcomes, raise patient satisfaction, and lower costs has not received the consideration it deserves.

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Healthy Advertising: Thin Body Sells

by Sophia Mantheakis

I called them bathroom-stall moments. Usually during morning break in high school, these were the moments that I would find myself on one side of a bathroom stall with my best friend on the other side in tears. High school was not fun--most people can share that sentiment. But, for my best friend (and myself to an extent), high school meant one of the most stressful periods of her life where she had to watch her every action. Homework was not the fear; she excelled in school. No, this fear, this demon was much simpler and always present. It was food.

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