Advertising Hormonal Contraception: Medicalizing the Natural

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… Read more →

Pregnancy Is Bad for Women’s Health

By Ginny Engholm

Our sentimentalizing of pregnancy, combined with our faith in modern medicine, have contributed to a backlash against birth control, encouraging us to see pregnancy as low risk and to lose sight of its dangers and perils. Contraceptives — and legal access to them — continue to be a source of controversy, political wrangling, and ideological posturing because the political and cultural discussion surrounding them focuses on issues of personal choice and sexual mores rather than questions of health. The recent Supreme Court decision regarding Hobby Lobby reflects this view of birth control as a matter of religious conviction and personal choice rather than reproductive health. If pregnancy is so natural, so low risk for women, then preventing pregnancy is not a medical issue, but rather a personal decision. Even efforts to argue that women use birth control for other health reasons, such as treating PMS or endometriosis, miss the point that limiting, preventing, and spacing pregnancies are medical reasons to use birth control. The backlash against contraceptives stems, in part, from our current misguided view of pregnancy as a low risk medical event for women. The problem with this view is that pregnancy is dangerous, and medical science has a long history of revealing its risks and perils for women.

Save Our Sisterhood: Reflecting on Single-Sex Education Ten Years Later

By Sarah Handley-Cousins

Ten years ago, on October 2, 2004, Wells College, a tiny, women’s liberal arts college in rural New York State, announced its decision to become coed. Frustrated and angry, many Wells Women — myself included — protested by holding a sit-in at the main academic building in hopes of compelling the college board of trustees to reverse its decision. We refused to leave. We slept in our classrooms; we chanted and sang; we lined up from one end of the building to the other, arm-in-arm, our mouths gagged with black fabric to symbolize how we had been silenced by the Wells administration.

Sunday Morning Medicine

By Jacqueline Antonovich

-£7.5 trillion for slavery.
-Bette Davis on sexism.
-Vaccinated mosquitos?
-A history of body snatching.
-“What Women Want”: a history.
-How science still gets race wrong.

Adventures in the Archives: The Dangers of Legal Abortion

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 poring over secondary research, I… Read more →

Is Pop Culture Replacing Sex Education?

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… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

By Jacqueline Antonovich

-How Prozac conquered America.
-A real-life Oregon Trail adventure.
-How Sigmund Freud Wanted to die.
-The most beautiful anatomical theaters.
-Can a person be an “anti-psychopath”?

PrEP, The Pill, and the Fear of Promiscuity.

By Ian Lekus

The first I learned of PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, came from the signs and postcards around Fenway Health, Boston’s LGBT community health center. Those advertisements appeared as Fenway served as one of two U.S. research sites for PrEP, in advance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving Truvada in July 2012 as the first drug deemed safe and effective for reducing the risk of HIV transmission.[1] As I started learning more, I quickly discovered how its advocates frequently compare PrEP to oral contraceptives. One PrEP researcher I consulted with early on in my investigations explicitly drew the parallel to her decision to use the Pill a few years earlier. Some of the similarities jump out immediately: for example, like oral contraceptives, PrEP — a pill taken daily to prevent HIV infection — separates prevention from the act of sexual intercourse itself.

Adventures in the Archives: Tales from the Crypt(ic) Rules of Archive Etiquette

This summer I, like many of my colleagues, packed up my laptop and #2 pencil and headed out to foreign archives in distant lands—and by that I mean I took a research trip through the beautiful U.S. Southwest. I had two archives to visit, and I was sure to contact both a couple of weeks… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

By Jacqueline Antonovich

-Snuff: a history.
-A community erased.
-History of sexuality 101.
-A history of the migraine.
-The Union’s fake Canadians.