By Rebecca M. Bender
I recently came across this amazing vintage video "Family Planning," produced by Disney in 1968. Do yourself a favor and take 10 minutes to watch it. In addition to the frivolous use of Donald Duck and the caricature of a "simple" heterosexual couple who appear clueless as to how babies are made, this short film provides us with a wealth of information regarding attitudes towards reproduction in the U.S., and abroad, during the late 1960s. After doing a bit of research, for example, I found out this film was produced for the Population Council, a non-profit organization created by John Rockefeller in 1952.
By Carrie Adkins
Last Tuesday, February 11, the German athlete Carina Vogt became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the women’s ski jump event. The sport itself is not new; ski jumping dates back to the early twentieth century, and men have been competing in the event at the Olympics since 1924. But until these 2014 games in Sochi, the International Olympic Committee refused again and again to allow women to participate – even when faced with mounting pressure from female skiers who wanted to compete in the 2006 and 2010 games.
And their rationale for denying women entry was incredibly stupid.
By Elizabeth Reis
It’s complicated for a person who cares about intersex, as I do, to grapple with the growing body of scientific evidence that environmental pollutants are producing an increase in genital and reproductive anomalies in animals and possibly even in humans. I have always understood intersex differences to be “normal” variations. We know that intersex has always existed (it’s discussed in the Talmud, for instance); and we need to recognize that not all bodies match conventional expectations or fit neatly into the sex binary. At the same time, I deplore the way that toxic chemicals, which have multiplied astonishingly in our world since the mid-twentieth century, are polluting our environments and causing harmful changes to our bodies. Intersex isn’t inherently a problem, but what if it was caused by one? How can I argue that intersex is a normal divergence in sex development and at the same time abhor the toxic degradation of our earth, which seems to be afflicting us, transforming our bodies in “unnatural” ways?
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
One of the writing assignments that I use in my American women’s history class is a series of primary document analyses. Each one uses a different digital database or archive to locate a document and analyze it using course materials. I like to imagine this is building twenty-first century research skills and teaching responsible use of the Internet, as well as our more traditional goal of critical thinking skills. As I was constructing the assignment, I explored several digital repositories, including the North American Women’s Letters and Diaries collection from Alexander Street Press. In the process, I stumbled upon an item that very quickly sucked me in. I had no choice but to drop everything else and read it very, very carefully.
By Rachel Epp Buller
Listening ear. Moral support. Advisor. Counselor. Professor. Mother?
I’m in the midst of reading Academic Motherhood: How Faculty Manage Work and Family, by Kelly Ward and Lisa Wolf-Wendel--both of whom are well-published professors of educational leadership. Ward and Wolf-Wendel aren’t the first authors to address this topic; other notable contributions to the conversation include Mama, Ph.D. (and the subsequent Papa, Ph.D.), Parenting and Professing, The Family Track: Keeping Your Faculties While You Mentor, Nurture, Teach, and Serve, and Academic Motherhood in a Post-Second Wave Context.
For the last 14 years, University of Oregon’s Women’s Center has coordinated OUT/LOUD, one of the only queer focused women’s music festivals nationwide. Following the controversial cancellation of Bitch as the OUT/LOUD headliner in 2010 due to questionable comments made in a blog about her then partner, discussions began about the oppressive nature of including performers that would be exclusive to the community and musicians that have been featured at traditionally -exclusive events. Though it seems implicit that trans* people would be included in a queer festival, the women’s festival circuit is guilty of a long history of exclusion of trans* and gender variant folks from queer and women’s spaces. Aside from marking a debilitating division within these communities, these exclusionary practices stem from an extensive history of defensive rhetoric regarding -exclusion policies and criticism of women’s identities from academic authorities and women-only spaces.
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.
By Tina M. Kibbe
Happy New Year! As another year ends, I wanted to take a look at three news stories involving eugenics and genetics in 2013 that you may have missed.
Sunday Morning Medicine is on vacation.
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
There is much talk these days about girls and STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In 2009, only 24% of scientists and engineers were women. This is not surprising, given the fact that women comprise only about 17% of the students earning degrees in these subjects, as compared to the 79% of students earning bachelor's degrees in education. There are material benefits to building careers in STEM. A woman in a STEM-related career earns, on average, 33% more than a woman in a non-STEM field. Given the continued gender wage gap, and the high numbers of women in poverty in this country, it makes sense to encourage an interest in STEM. How to do so has been the tricky part. Colleges and universities -- as well as prospective employers -- actively recruit women to enroll in STEM programs. But getting young women interested in these fields has been more difficult. The old maxims that girls don't pursue these interests because “Math class is tough,” and their brains are not “hardwired” for it, no longer suffice. Researchers have found ample evidence that demonstrates that it is a combination of gender conditioning and a lack of role models that make girls feel that they don’t “belong” in STEM. This isn’t just about finding gender equity in the workplace or the college classroom, then; it's also about reframing the gendered messages we send to young girls and women about femininity and science.