Posts by Author: Cara Delay

At the Mercy of the Sea: Women, Reproduction, and Europe’s Migrant Crisis

In 2015 over a million women, children, and men from conflict-ridden parts of Africa and the Middle East made their way across the Mediterranean Sea, seeking a better life in Europe. Thousands, as we now know, died in the process. In 2016 the tide of migrants, as well as casualties, only increased, and it shows… Read more →

Sex, Death, and Three Irish Women

In November 1984 the Catholic parish of Tynagh, County Galway, Ireland, gathered to bury a woman who had been dead for 150 years.1 Local tradition asserted that the woman, Áine, gave birth to three illegitimate children in the 1830s or 1840s and then became gravely ill. Citing her sexual transgressions, Áine’s parish priest would not… Read more →

Venus Revisited

“Creepy.” “Weird.” “Messed. Up.” Such are the visceral responses of my women’s history students to an admittedly bizarre and complex historical phenomenon: the Anatomical Venus. Designed to be realistic and anatomically correct wax models of the female body, Anatomical Venuses emerged in eighteenth-century Europe (primarily Spain, Italy, and Austria) to help train medical students who… Read more →

The Brexit and Women’s Rights in the UK

Although women comprise the majority of voters in the UK, they were noticeably absent in the debates and discussions surrounding the potential “Brexit” — Britain’s proposal to leave the European Union. For the duration of the Brexit battle, middle-aged white men — surprise — remained the public faces of both the “Leave” and the “Remain”… Read more →

“The Torture Began”: Symphysiotomy and Obstetric Violence in Modern Ireland

“They just took me into the ward and put me on the bed and told me they were going to do some little job … ‘you’ll be very sore, and your legs will be tied together,’ [said the doctor]. And by God, it’s a thing you’ll never forget the rest of your life.”1 Twenty-one-year old… Read more →

“For Poor or Rich”: Handywomen and Traditional Birth in Ireland

On Achill Island, Ireland, an untrained woman was prosecuted for acting as a midwife in 1932. In her defense, she argued that she intervened only in an emergency “to save the mother and child.” Here, local authorities decided “not to press the case hard and to ask for a light penalty.”1 Controversies like this were… Read more →

Tea Kettles and Turpitudes: Abortion and Material Culture in Irish History

In 1932, a Donegal woman was brought up on criminal charges after she attempted miscarriage by consuming both pills as well as a ubiquitous item in early twentieth-century households: a bottle of castor oil.1 Just a few years earlier a Belfast midwife, Isabel, defended herself in court after being charged with giving another woman an… Read more →

Flowers and Lady Charlotte: Talking about Menstruation, Past and Present

In some ways, 2015 was the year of the period in social media. Thinx panties, which claim to absorb menstrual blood without the use of a tampon or pad (even on heavy days), were named a “best invention” of 2015 by Time and made the rounds on Facebook. News outlets featured Kiran Ghandi when she… Read more →

Abortion in Ireland: The More Things Change…

Last month, a handful of Irish women and men left Dublin on a unique bus tour. For two days, they traveled the country giving information on abortion pills — which are currently illegal in Ireland — to women. Organizer Rita Harrold said of the bus tour and the pro-choice campaign: “You know what? We aren’t… Read more →