Guest Writer

My Son and Foucault: A Modern Tale of Sexual Surveillance

The following is a personal narrative that may be difficult for some readers. We hope that it will produce a nuanced discussion about sexual abuse and how the state and the field of psychology often fail children in fundamental ways. Because it involves children, we are publishing it anonymously at the request of the author…. Read more →

Satan’s Fortress: Christianity, Sex, and Josh Duggar

When I was 18, I attended a large gathering of evangelical Christians, just as I had every summer through high school. I looked forward to this event each year – my friends and I spent the hot August days wandering the theme park where the festival was held, going on rides and listening to our… Read more →

Teaching Sexuality, Gender, and Race in Middle School

“So what do you do?” We all have asked this familiar question while making small talk at a BBQ, a bar, or a kid’s sporting event. I smile whenever I get this question – already knowing how the person will respond to my answer. “I teach 8th grade.” Cue the familiar, “Oh wow.” “But they’re… Read more →

The Hystericization of “Garbage Bag Diagnoses”

On April 24, 2014, radio and TV personality Dr. Drew Pinsky, a board-certified internist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Southern California, fielded a question on the syndicated radio show Loveline from a man named Kelan whose fiancée had what he called a “multitude of conditions”: endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, lactose intolerance,… Read more →

On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough?: Interpreting Mental Illness

By Mary Elene Wood

A highway patrol officer straddles a woman who lies on her back by the side of a highway. His arm lifts high into the air, then, with what looks like substantial force, he strikes her in the face with his clenched fist. He does this over and over again. Early in July, news programs around the country quickly spread the story of a California Highway Patrol officer caught on videotape violently beating Marlene Pinnock, a 51-year-old homeless, presumably mentally ill, woman, along the side of a freeway in Los Angeles. The California Highway Patrol claimed that the officer was only trying to stop the woman from walking out into traffic, yet journalists across the U.S. decried, in one writer’s words, “the lack of training given to law enforcement officers to handle such people, even though officers all too often are society’s frontline mental health care providers.”

Marvel’s Fleeting Feminism

by Tony Lewis

The recent announcement of a new creative team for the comic book series Wonder Woman has stirred up some controversy, stemming mainly from an interview in which the artist, David Finch, proved wary of the term “feminist.” His hesitance clearly alarmed people who value the character’s status as an icon of feminism, especially as it came on the heels of Stevie St. John’s article in the Summer 2014 issue of Bitch Magazine that explained how the series’ current creators have undermined the feminist aspects of Wonder Woman’s mythology. What has received less attention is the fact that DC Comics has handed its 75-year-old franchise to Finch’s wife, Meredith, a writer who has very little experience working in comics. But, as we shall see, this situation has a historical precedent.

Sex as Construct, Rape as Reality, and Consent as Healing

By Jenna Tucker

I grew up in a culture obsessed with sexual ethics. As part of a group of Christian teenagers in the Midwest in the 1990’s, one thing we all knew, for certain, was that our religious and moral identities were directly linked to our relationships to sex. It was the culture that birthed virginity pledges and organized for abstinence-only sex education. I remember going to one of those Protestant mega-gatherings with youth groups from all over the country. The speaker gave us two messages that I carry with me to this day. The first was that we had to stop relying on our parents’ beliefs and develop our own relationship to God. The second was that we should not have sex and that anything that gave us sexual pleasure was sex. He was trying to head off our questions. Sex was bad, but what was sex? Could we have sex that didn’t risk pregnancy? Could we masturbate? What if we were engaged?

Parenting and Disordered Eating: How I am Trying to Break the Pattern

by Krista Heinitz

My blood pressure is amazing. My fridge and pantry are full of whole fruits and vegetables, whole wheats, and a very small amount of processed food. My family regularly hikes, camps, and actively adventures (whenever grad school isn’t consuming me). We are a healthy family. My body shows the after effects of childbirth — my stomach has some loose skin that sags and is rippled with stretch marks. Years of breastfeeding have changed the landscape of my breasts. All of these things, including my strong legs and back that carried my child, create a body I am proud of and happy to have. As I dig into rich, dark earth with my daughter so that we can sow beet seeds, I do not doubt that I am modeling and creating a healthy life for my child.

Medicine, Modernity, and the Maternal Body

by Jodi Vandenberg-Daves

When I set out to write a synthesis of the history of motherhood in the U.S. back in 2008, I’d been teaching a course by that name for more than a decade. I didn’t anticipate that as I explored this history, I would soon witness a multi-faceted and partisan assault on reproductive rights. Perhaps this political context was part of the reason I found that, as I dug ever deeper into this scholarship, questions about the modernization of the maternal body and the various political tensions embedded within this process kept bubbling to the surface.

Talk, Touch, and Plan: Lessons on How We Die

by Karla Erickson

Some mornings I wake up very early with my son, Erik. In those quiet pre-dawn hours, I imagine that I can hear the human world awakening: a truck driver trudges out to his truck amidst the hissing of the engine; a farmer wakes before the roosters to spread feed for her chickens and goats; a coffee shop worker switches on the lights, grinds the beans, brews the coffee; parents like me who rock babies or stroke fevered foreheads, and all the people—children, spouses, home care workers and elder care workers—rise to care for the old and ailing. Chaplains sit with those who may not live until dawn, nurses’ aides who raise beds, pick out clothes, slide on shoes, offer water and coffee, and inquire “How did you sleep, Gloria? Was it a good night?” I think about the rustling of bodies, old and young, who are being helped lovingly and willfully to rest comfortably as the sun rises.