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Posts by Heather Munro Prescott

Female Role Models Whom I Will Miss

By Heather Munro Prescott

Every year the New York Times magazine publishes a special issue "The Lives They Lived" honoring the lives of prominent persons who died in the past year. This year's list included a number of notable women, including Abigail van Buren (aka Dear Abby), Esther Williams, and Maria Tallchief. This inspired me to create my own list of female role models who died in 2013 and whose life and work influenced my own.

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Conference Report on History of Science Society 2013 Annual Meeting

By Heather Munro Prescott

Last weekend I attended the 2013 annual meeting of the History of Science Society in Boston, Massachusetts. I tweeted periodic comments throughout the conference. Here are some further thoughts:

On Thursday afternoon, I started off with the Special Public Engagement Session: Science in the Streets, cosponsored by Boston University Center for the Philosophy and History of Science. This session consisted of two interdisciplinary panels aimed at exploring "innovative ways of connecting ordinary citizens with science, and how the history of science can inform and enrich these efforts." Presenters included Brian Malow (the science comedian) and Ari Daniel Shapiro of the science podcast The Story Collider. Conevery Valencius Bolton from the University of Massachusetts, Boston did a fine job as an emcee for the session.

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The Links between Optional Parenthood and Reproductive Rights

By Heather Munro Presscott

Last summer, Time Magazine published a cover story declaring "Childfree Adults Are Not 'Selfish,'" in which Carolina A. Miranda recounts her decision to not have children: "This should not seem that radical. But 52 years after the advent of the birth control pill, and more than a century after the word 'feminism' was first coined, a woman’s decision not to have children remains fraught. It is also very public, relentlessly scrutinized by psychologists, politicians, statisticians and the media, who gather to discuss what it may mean — for women, for the funding of Social Security, for Western civilization as we know it. This past winter, a pair of Newsweek writers — of the dude persuasion — went on a gloom-and-tirade (sic) about declining birth rates and the self-involved young adults that are causing them."

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Wendy Davis Filibuster Shows You Don’t Mess with Texas Feminists

By Heather Munro Prescott

Periodically, we Yankees need a reminder that the term "southern feminist" is not an oxymoron. This past summer, we received an especially vivid one: Senator Wendy Davis's epic filibuster of SB-5, which sought to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, to regulate first-trimester abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers, and to restrict access to medication abortions.

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The Camp Gyno is Period Positive – Are You?

By Heather Munro Prescott

I can't let the summer end without commenting on the latest video from Hello Flo, a "reminder service" for feminine hygiene products that "was born to deliver just what a woman needs when she needs it."

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A Historian’s Guide to Summer: Independence Day Reading Edition

By Heather Munro Prescott
Via Book Riot, where Derek Attig reminds us that "In a very real way, the Fourth of July is a huge, national holiday celebrating a piece of paper and a scribble of ink. Yes, the celebration is for what that paper and that ink did—ideologically and politically, if not practically or militarily, separate the colonies from Britain—but it’s still, at heart, a celebration of paper and ink."

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Quit Snickering about Michael Douglas, HPV is Serious Business

By Heather Munro Prescott
In an interview about his new film "Behind the Candelabra", actor Michael Douglas told the Guardian that his throat cancer was caused not by years of smoking but "by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus." Douglas said, "I did worry if the stress caused by my son's incarceration didn't help trigger it. But yeah, it's a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer." He shrugs. "And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it. . . It giveth and it taketh." When I first heard this story, I thought Douglas was compensating for playing a flamboyantly gay character by boasting of his heterosexual male prowess (and/or showing that despite his age and illness, he can still satisfy his much younger wife).

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Get Ready for Earth Day of Action on Reproductive Health and the Environment

By Heather Munro Prescott
In an effort to show links between reproductive justice and environmental justice, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP) is "calling all young people" to check a presentation on "Sex, Synthetics, and Sustainability," on April 10 at 4:30 EST. The presentation will feature representatives from the the Sierra Club Global Population & Environment Program, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Women's Voices for the Earth, and special guest Stefanie Weiss, author of Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable. Now, as I've written elsewhere, this isn't the first time that birth control activists have reached out to young people by appealing to their interest in protecting the environment.

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Signal Boost: #TooFEW: Feminist People of Color Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon on Friday, March 15 (2013) from 11am-3pm EST

By Heather Munro Prescott
Earlier this week , Tenured Radical (aka Claire Potter) reported on gender bias in Wikipedia in an article titled “Prikipedia? Or, Looking for the Women on Wikipedia.” TR writes, "It is no secret that Wikipedians are mostly male. Two years ago, Noem Cohen pointed to the fact that, according to the Wikimedia Foundation’s own study, only 13 percent of contributors to the site were female (New York Times, January 31 2011). “Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation,” Cohen wrote, “has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015, but she is running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women.” A little over a year later the foundation came out with new numbers: after this big push from the top, only one out of ten Wikipedians was a woman."

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Blog for Choice 2013: Roe at 40 and the Rebranding of Planned Parenthood

By Heather Munro Prescott
Today is NARAL's annual Blog for Choice day, which falls this year on the 40th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. One this day, NARAL invites bloggers and activists to get people to talk about reproductive rights online. By participating in Blog for Choice day, we join NARAL's mission to "let readers and the mainstream media know that a woman's right to choose is a core progressive value that must be protected." NARAL's deliberate decision to retain the word "choice" is quite a contrast to Planned Parenthood's commemoration of Roe's 40th anniversary. In advance of this event, Planned Parenthood launched a new campaign, Not in Her Shoes which seeks to move beyond labels in the abortion debate:

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