By Elizabeth Reis
The previously obscure ultra-Orthodox Jewish rite of metzitzah b’peh (oral suction) has burst into the news lately and raised critical questions about genital surgery, consent, First Amendment rights, tradition, and the representation of Jews.
I would guess that most Americans, even Jewish-Americans, had never heard of metzitzah b’peh (oral suction) until the recent controversy between ultra-Orthodox Jews and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It refers to a custom performed after a circumcision in which a mohel (ritual circumciser) orally sucks the blood away from the baby boy’s penis. To insure the requirement that blood be shed and then hygienically removed (sucking was deemed the best means of achieving this hygiene anciently), metzitzah b’peh became part of circumcisions in the 2ndcentury, according to scholars. Most Jews, even observant Modern Orthodox Jews, have abandoned the practice. But a small minority adheres to and defends it, based on the First Amendment – somewhat surprisingly now on free speech grounds in addition to its religious liberty provisions.
By Jacqueline Antonovich
-Reamins of Nazi wife confirmed through DNA.
-Wow . . .Henry VIII really knew how to put on a feast!
-The sad history of kid-sized handcuffs.
-America fails at health and wellness.
-More sex, less babies.
-Therapeutic synthetic poop (yes, you read that right).
By Cheryl Lemus
Two nights ago I ran across a story about Farrah Abraham, who set off a firestorm when she posted online that she waxed and tweezed her 3-year-old daughter’s eyebrows because she had what Abraham described as a unibrow. The moment she admitted what she did, people called her insane, ignorant, and labeled her a “bad mother.” Farrah Abraham is known for her appearance on Teen Mom, a show that glorifies teenage motherhood and turns its participants into minor celebrities. Now as a mother myself, I could throw myself into the mix and condemn Abraham for falling victim to the rancid consumer culture that plagues motherhood, but I’ll refrain mainly because I, as well as most mothers, have acquiesced to the rampant consumerism that shapes our opinions, criticisms, and habits of mothering. In fact, when it comes to beauty and clothing, many mothers have become comfortable with our children mirroring our fashion choices. There are many reasons for this, but seemingly since the 1950s middle-class mothers and daughters looking like twins or looking older/younger than they are reflects changing norms regarding girlhood and motherhood. Girlhood and motherhood has become increasingly sexualized, as the pressure to look older or younger has grown.
By Carrie Adkins
First of all, a disclaimer: in many ways, American Horror Story is not Nursing Clio material. For starters, the show features haunted houses, alien abduction, demonic possession, and an angel of death; it does not, in short, aim for realism or historical accuracy. The first season offered very little content related to Nursing Clio’s focus on gender and medicine in a historical context, and after just a few episodes, I found it uneven and disappointing. There were, at least, some interesting (and purposefully horrifying) highlights – part of the back story involved an unscrupulous 1920s abortionist, and Jessica Lange did an amazing job playing a very, very, very bad mother – but in general, that season quickly lost its scariness and became ridiculous and repetitive. But oh, the second season!
By Mary Griggs
One little known aspect of the policy against “homosexuality” for the US military was that service members who were discharged for being gay or lesbian, had their separation pay cut in half. The policy, which was not part of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” statute was, therefore, not changed with the law was repealed. Laura Schauer Ives, managing attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico, rightly called this a “double dose of discrimination.” The ACLU The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Mexico had filed a class action lawsuit against the policy.
By Jacqueline Antonovich
-Recession babies more likely to be delinquents?
-Surreal textbook illustrations from the 1970s.
-Need to peruse the ancient letters of St. Paul? There’s an app for that.
-A new spin on historic sites – digital caves.
-The class politics of vaccinations.
-The entrepreneurial historian.
By Helen McBride
The TEDxBelfastWomen event was the first of its kind to be held in the new Skainos building in the East of the city, as part of the Skainos urban regeneration project. TED is a non-profit organisation that aims to spread ideas. Started 25 years ago, it has broadened its scope to include more than the original Technology, Entertainment, Design and added the ‘x’ element. The x marks independently organised events that stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.
By Austin McCoy
Reports of a deal between Democrats and Republicans to avert the so-called fiscal cliff finally surfaced a few hours before they all turned to pumpkins at midnight. I know I am not the only one who grew tired of hearing about the fiscal cliff, curb, or whatever metaphor you used to describe the crisis. Actually, I learned that I did not want anything to do with this when I sat down to write because the fiscal cliff negotiations were tiring, and frankly, rather annoying. Yet, in all of my annoyance, the outcomes of these negotiations had very tangible consequences for anyone receiving unemployment benefits, living on Medicare and Social Security, or relying on their payroll tax cut. Yet, the current deal only postpones sequester for two months, possibly setting up another conflict over long-term budget cuts. This aspect of the deal is the most disconcerting. It means the 2012 fiscal cliff crisis signified just one event in what has become a rolling crisis—a series of failed negotiations and compromises that lead to more failed negotiations, weak compromises, and crises.
By Ashley Baggett
With the beginning of 2013, many people make New Year’s resolutions to improve their health, happiness, or wealth. We make these commitments and hope for a better future. As an activist, I have a long list of resolutions and goals for the upcoming year, but, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, I hope others will participate in a necessary conscious raising effort involving the dangerous link between masculinity and guns.
By Jacqueline Antonovich
-Japan may un-apologize to WWII “comfort women.”
-Meet the perfect woman circa 1912.
-MythBusting the corset.
-New Zealand’s weirdest archival secrets.
-An imperial tomb too deadly to explore?
-Jack Klugman’s unheralded role in America’s medical history.