Mokgadi Caster Semenya v. The Patriarchy and its IAAF Minions

Caster Semenya first grabbed my attention in 2009 when she won the 800-meter race in Berlin — she bested her competition by over two full seconds and set a world-leading time for the year. Soon after her athletic successes, however, the sporting community challenged her sex/gender identity. The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) policy… Read more →

Sex Trafficking in Twentieth-Century Europe

Thanks to Liam Neeson and edgy action-thrillers like Taken, Americans have a pretty specific idea of what the sex-trafficking industry looks like: naïve young American girls, traveling on their own for the first time, who trust the wrong guy and get kidnapped. In Taken, the girl’s father happens to be ex-CIA with a “very particular… Read more →

Is a Historian’s Library an Archive or a Living Thing?

This week I purged my bookshelves. As a Ph.D. historian, it initially felt like a risky move — somewhere in between disowning my former self and cutting out part of my brain. In the end, though, I think the effect will be closer to pruning a big, old, tangled shrub so that it has some… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news An oral history of Lilith Fair. The little-known history of cat litter. Twin births in the U.S. are dropping. Stop getting married on plantations. Showing solidarity with women in prison. Making camping more comfortable, a history. The colorful history of the black leather jacket…. Read more →

Will Technology Change How We Understand Interpersonal Violence? Maybe. Probably Not.

The Atlantic’s August cover story by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, “An Epidemic of Disbelief,” describes how some jurisdictions, in the midst of processing backlogs of rape kits going back years and in some cases decades, are uncovering DNA evidence that is changing what we know about rape. DNA testing has shown that there is an extraordinarily… Read more →

Historical Fanfiction as Affective History Making

I became a historian because of a television show. That is something I don’t often admit, but it’s true. I was home for Thanksgiving in 2009, nearly finished with my first semester as a journalism major, and I was miserable. To cope, I spent two days curled up on my parents’ couch watching the Band… Read more →

Thomsonianism Meets Juice Cleanses

I will be the first to admit that I love juices. They’re colorful, full of tasty fruits and vegetables, and highly “Instagrammable.” I’ve been known to occasionally treat myself to a $10 cold-pressed drink, but there’s more to juice than just an expensive beverage. They’ve become part of an alternative medicine culture surrounding the idea… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Prehistoric baby bottles. Black motherhood on TV. The Tylenol Murders of 1982. Reclaiming sci-fi’s lost history. How New York defeated rabies. A family history of the Red Scare. Ergot and the first roots of the FDA. Branding the breast cancer narrative. Using AI to… Read more →

“Good” Teeth: American Dental Care and Classism

I used to hide my own teeth. It started in fourth grade during spring photos. When my big adult teeth were just coming in, I gave a toothy smile as I leaned on a white picnic table fragment in front of a backdrop of someone else’s nice country porch. My classmates snickered. My teeth were… Read more →

Understanding Shaming’s Place in History: The Story of Germany’s Victims

It can be difficult for those who have never experienced sexual violence to understand and address the pain of survivors. From the women who’ve chosen to come forward and report instances of abuse in the entertainment industry as part of the #MeToo Movement, to less publicized cases in which women make the brave choice to… Read more →