By Cheryl Lemus
Well I have to be honest with you all, unlike most of my fellow Nursing Clio authors, Carrie, Adam, and Ashley, I did not finish Vagina: A Biography. Each and every time I opened the book, with the full intention of reading a chapter, two to three pages in, I dozed off. I did manage, finally, to get through some of the chapters and in the end, I found myself not really caring about the vagina as a goddess. I had one thing in mind when I first started this piece, where I was going to discuss what sort of vagina my vagina wanted to be and then Tuesday night’s debate aired. Well wouldn’t you know it, Romney made the brilliant “binders full of women,” comment (it is has to be up their with “I like trees,” but maybe not), and it made me think about how it connects to Wolf’s book. Throughout history the vagina has been put into neat little categories, binders if you will, that have been used to define, stigmatize, and even defile women. Our vaginas have defined us as sex objects, mothers, weaker employees, and victims, while at the same time branded us emotional, irrational, and fragile. So how does this relate to Wolf, you ask? It’s simple, Wolf wants to place the vagina into another binder labeled “Vagina as Goddess,” and it is another category that in the end, will bite women in the ass. The vagina is NOT a goddess and therefore we are NOT goddesses.
By Ashley Baggett
It is day 3 of “Vagina Week” and today we hear from Ashley Baggett who discusses Wolf’s mysterious “mind-vagina” connection and the problematic analysis of Victorian medical history.
In reading Naomi Wolf’s Vagina, I could not help but focus on the immense problem with, among many things, the “mind-vagina connection.” She argues that an intense connection exists between the female mind and her vagina, a connection so deep that women’s sense of self, creativity, etc, are essentially controlled by their vaginas. My first reaction when I came across that phrase was to throw the book on the floor. Serious ramifications exist for such a claim, and as a self-proclaimed feminist, Wolf should have been aware of this. After I calmed down, I retrieved the book from the corner of the room and tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I found my initial response to be repeated over and over again. I wanted to scream “how can she not see this argument has been made already but to the detriment of women?!?”
By Jacqueline Antonovich
-The history of the fork is way more fascinating than you might think.
-The five most important places in history (according to one guy).
-Want to read Anne Frank’s Diary? There’s an app for that.
-Elderly are newest group to be plagued by eating disorders.
-The saddest letters you will ever read. Ever.
-Bioethicists raise concerns over personal genomes and privacy protections.
By Ashley Baggett
Welcome to the third installment of our regular feature, “Adventures in the Archives!”
In this reoccurring series, Nursing Clio bloggers will share interesting finds in the archives and ask our readers for feedback, ideas, and analysis. It’s just like you’re sitting in the dusty archives with us!
While researching in the archives, I have learned to expect the unexpected. Several times I read letters containing humorous anecdotes leading me to laugh out loud in the middle of a quiet setting, and yes, a few times I have danced a small jig in my chair when I found the perfect bit of evidence. I have also learned useful tips, such as using the microfilm machine to warm my cold hands and make my blue fingernails appear flesh colored again or befriending the archivist to make a more productive and pleasant research trip.
By Cheryl Lemus
I am a child of Sesame Street. My afternoons in daycare began with “Sunny days. Sweepin the clouds away. On my way to where the air is sweet. Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?” I had my favorite characters. Oscar the Grouch made me giggle as he told everyone to “scram!” Grover’s silly antics brought smiles to my face on the gloomiest days and I always counted along with the Count. I cannot say I was ever a huge fan of Bert and Ernie, but I did like it when Ernie got on Bert’s last nerve. I was a fan when Mr. Hooper and Kermit the Frog were regulars, and I became a fan again, when Elmo’s cuteness made my kids’ eyes light up. But there was one character who was always a favorite and that was Big Bird. His gigantic proportions never overshadowed his kindness So, when Mitt Romney said during the first debate, “I’m sorry Jim. I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m gonna stop other things,…I like PBS, I like Big Bird, I actually like you too,” I instantly thought I had heard it wrong, but then I quickly realized that Romney did indeed say Big Bird was on menu for Thanksgiving. Romney’s comments are incredibly sad because Big Bird, and everything he stands for, such as kindness, honesty, toleration, sharing, generosity, hope, and curiosity, are all the qualities that we, as Americans, supposedly value. So, in many ways, we all are Big Bird because he represents the best of America and by making him a political target, Romney essentially places the bull’s-eye on the backs of most Americans.
By Sean Cosgrove
Hands up if you’ve heard of The Second Sexism?
For those, like me, whose spidey-senses may be tingling at a mention of the title, but draw a blank regarding its substance, The Second Sexism is a book released earlier this year by philosopher David Benatar concerning what he sees as the disadvantage and discrimination faced by boys and men as a result of their sex. Benatar’s contention is that there exists a second form of sexism affecting males which is not only under theorised but remains largely undiscussed. The importance of this conversation, he contends, is that only through an awareness of the operation of all forms of sexism can we, as a society, begin to overcome it.
While a quick Google search (the first port of call for any accomplished scholar) confirms that I seem to have arrived at this party a little late, thankfully the notion of a second sexism is incredibly interesting and while the book lays down some serious gender talk, it also offers some food for thought as to the unique skills inherent in the historical discipline.
By Cheryl Lemus
Yesterday, several media sites published comments made by Christina Aguilera to her record company during the recording of her new album Lotus. Allegedly, she told them that she was fat and that they needed to get over this idea that she was a “skinny white girl.” News about her comments spread like wildfire and there was a loud cheer for Aguilera and her acceptance of her “fatness.” Apparently though, today her rep emphatically denies that Aguilera ever said she was fat. Whatever the reason is that her people are backtracking from the “fat” statement, the celebration yesterday reflects that there is more willingness to accept celebrities who do not fit the beauty ideal wrapped around females. It gives women around the world a reason to feel content with their bodies. But, as we slowly accept that beautiful women encompass all different sizes, shapes, and colors, we are at the same time creating an ideal of female fatness. Aguilera’s (now refuted) proud statement “I’m a fat girl now,” may be a reason to celebrate, except she’s not fat. Not even close. By accepting that Aguilera is “fat,” we are only creating a myth of the fat skinny girl, who still has firm and flawless proportions. Just as we decry the ideal skinny female, the ideal fat girl does not seem to get much criticism for projecting a body that very few overweight girls and women have.
By Austin McCoy
Long before Jesse Jackson, Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, Shirley Chisholm launched a campaign for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, we rarely mention her efforts when we look at the history of U.S. presidential politics in the last forty years. It would seem easy to forget how Chisholm blazed the trail for the likes Jackson, Clinton, and Obama after Clinton’s and Obama’s 2008 nomination battle. But the sexism that Hillary Clinton endured and the racism that Obama faced in 2008 arose from a longer context of racism and sexism structuring the outcomes of U.S. party and presidential politics. Chisholm stood as the first to confront the closed nature of national (and black) politics. Defending her campaign to the broader Democratic Party would seem par for the course; yet, Chisholm also battled the established black male leadership in quest to secure the nomination. In doing so, however, “Fighting” Shirley Chisholm, as she called herself, utilized various political styles and strategies seen in later candidates like Jackson, Clinton, and Obama.
By Cheryl Lemus
So I was dealing with a bout of insomnia tonight and while I was sitting in front of my computer (which I know does not help), I came across a Huffington Post piece on The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which has just been introduced in the Senate. The bill, which mirrors one introduced to the House in the spring, would require that employers make workplace accommodations for pregnant workers. You know, like giving a pregnant worker regular bathroom breaks. But, not surprisingly, it faces opposition by, that’s right, Republicans. Republicans see things a little differently. See, to them, that baby bump and its need for “accommodations” will kill profits. Don’t you know that requiring an employer to allow a pregnant woman to carry a water bottle during work or making them give her routine bathroom or rest breaks will cause an economic burden? The GOP, made up of primarily desperate white men clinging to their hegemony, are not surprisingly holding steadfast to their antiquated notions of pregnant women (and women in general). With many big businesses funding (and running) the GOP, the party of “pro-life” reveals its true colors yet again by stipulating that an individual’s well-being should not get in the way of profits. At the same time though, most Americans do not recognize a pregnant woman as an employee. Although there are 77 million women in the workforce, many of whom are working in low-wage jobs, a pregnant worker is not the norm. A pregnant woman is not a worker.
Sex education is tricky stuff. We’ve heard some about it already here on Nursing Clio. And many of us awkwardly shuffled through it one way or another in public school. The only real “talk” I remember from my parents was a noticeably scientific explanation from my microbiologist father, which pretty much cleared up my curiosity at the time, I recall. The public school side of it was mostly anatomy