Informed Transitions

Transitions can be hard, especially when one has spent decades teetering on shifting sand. With my menopause comes an emptying nest and a great and painful purge of my reproductive potential, accumulated clutter, dreams, and fears. I am 55 this year, African American, a tenured college professor, a widow, and single mother of two sons. I have… Read more →

Learning What We Do Not Know: The History and Experience of Menopause

In January 2021, I willingly underwent a procedure to implant testosterone pellets into the flesh at my hip. I had arrived at my medical provider’s clinic because of the many and varied symptoms of perimenopause that were disrupting my life. I wasn’t sleeping; I had low energy and terrible brain fog; I couldn’t regulate my… Read more →

Manhood, Madness, and Moonshine

In November 2015, Princeton University economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case published a startling report. Among 45 to 54 year olds with no more than a high school education, they found death rates increased by 134 per 100,000 from 1999 to 2014. These mortality rates, Deaton and Case argued, were not being driven by the… Read more →

Acting Up and Fighting Back: Stories of ACT UP

Sarah Schulman’s Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987–1993 and Peter Staley’s memoir, Never Silent: ACT UP and My Life in Activism aren’t in conversation with one another so much as they are different versions of the same story. Both focus on the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT… Read more →

Will We Ever “Have it All”? Examining the Career Woman of the 1980s and in the COVID Era

The US government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has illustrated just how divided the country has become on the topic of childcare and women’s role in the workforce. In October 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its September jobs report, which indicated that, of the 1.1 million workers who had dropped out of the… Read more →

“Who Cares?”: A Conversation on Murder and Women with Katherine Dykstra

Katherine Dykstra’s What Happened to Paula: On the Death of an American Girl is much more than a book about murder. It starts with a close study of the death of eighteen-year-old Paula Jean Oberbroeckling, who disappeared from her Cedar Rapids home in the middle of the night in July 1970. Oberbroeckling’s remains were discovered… Read more →

When Abortion Was a Necessary Sin

Anyone tempted to make facile arguments about abortion politics, on either side of the aisle, needs to read John Christopoulos’s new book, Abortion in Early Modern Italy. The book is beautifully written and the stories in it are jaw-dropping, with nearly tabloid-worthy details about individuals’ sex lives and relationships, though handled with appropriate respect. As… Read more →

Narrative Privilege and the Power of Pose

This post contains spoilers for the full series of Pose, including the series finale. Dorian Corey began her career as a dancer in the Pearl Box Revue sometime in the 1960s. By the late 1970s, she was the mother of the House of Corey, strutting the runway in underground drag balls and performing in shows… Read more →

Peering Into Windows and Wombs: Reflections on SB 8

I thought about Dr. Curtis Boyd when I heard that the Supreme Court greenlit Texas’s unprecedented abortion restrictions. In the 1960s, Dr. Boyd lived in a small town in southern Texas. There, he provided illegal abortions to thousands of women who traveled across the United States to see him. Some of the women who found… Read more →

Seeing Pregnant People: History, Empathy, and Reproductive Politics

On November 22, 1863, New Yorker Charles F. Robertson testified in a deposition that, “About two months ago [his wife Letitia] suspected that she was in the family way and seemed almost crazy at the idea, and commenced taking medicine to bring on an abortion. She took blood root, tanzy, &c., and on the night… Read more →