Eighth-Grade Innovator Helps Girls Focus on Class Periods, Not Menstrual Periods

“If men could menstruate,” Gloria Steinem observed wryly in an iconic 1978 essay for Ms. magazine, “[s]anitary supplies would be federally funded and free.” Surely, too, tampons and pads would be stocked in every public bathroom just like toilet paper. Instead here we are, almost 40 years and a powerful women’s movement later, and women… Read more →

Quinine, Magic Pollen, and the British Empire in Fiction

Hands down, my favorite book of 2016 (and possibly ever) was The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. I read it with my Dessert Book Club, and every member either loved it or found some degree of enjoyment in it.1 And believe me — in the DBC, our tastes vary greatly, and it is rare that we… Read more →

Metaphors and Malignancy in Senator McCain’s Cancer Diagnosis

When my grandmother died from a mucosal melanoma (a form of skin cancer) in 2015, I sat around with my mother and my aunts talking through the wording of the email we were going to send round to her friends and colleagues to inform them of her death. We rejected the obvious line, “She died… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news A history of Pyrex. The midwestern history revival. Shoes in Jane Austen’s world. The digital transgender archive. Babies named after WWI battles. The 1890s fashion trend: live lizards. An 18th-century sapphist’s sexy garden. Sexuality and the modern American gossip rag. What a rare disorder… Read more →

Finding My Amputee Brethren

I remember vividly the first amputee I met after my amputation. Driving down with my spouse to Wake Forest from our small college town so that I could get more chemo, we were at a rest stop. I had only recently received my first “test” leg and hobbled along, with atrophied muscles from months of… Read more →

Option Whatever: The Corporatization of Grief in Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B

Two years ago, my husband Clayton was murdered. That summer, I wrote a lot in my journal. I felt angry at how so many people reacted to Clayton’s death. I wanted to memorialize our memories together. I wanted to remember through writing. I snarkily told my family I was going to publish my own how-to… Read more →

The “Right” and “Wrong” Kind of Addict: Iatrogenic Opioid Addiction in Historical Context

Last year, Kelly McEvers of NPR’s Embedded podcast introduced us to Joy. Something about Joy seems so ordinary, even familiar. She’s a certified hospital nurse, a mother of three kids, and a former Girl Scouts leader. She’s from Indiana, America’s heartland. She’s even close with her parents. And like many of us, she suffers from… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news The need for a new bioethics. Enjoy this lovely E. coli statue. Black women of early Hollywood. Maybe Dr. Google is not very good. Did Hippocrates invent the first IUD? The prostitute whose pox inspired feminists. When and why did we start weighing babies? The… Read more →

Handmaids, Hospitals, and The Pageantry of the Newborn Nursery Window

Sixteen minutes into the second episode of Hulu’s new Handmaid’s Tale, Offred (Elizabeth Moss), having recently given birth to her first child, follows a nurse to the hospital’s newborn nursery, where her baby will have her first bath. Arriving at the nursery, Offred is taken aback by an unusual sight. “Where are the babies?” she… Read more →

Was the Founding Generation Right to Worry?

On February 13, 2017, thirty-five physicians signed a letter to the New York Times that stated: “We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.” Even a quick glance at social media or political buttons and bumper stickers shows us that these… Read more →