Elizabeth Reis is a professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Oregon and is the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). This year (2012-2103) she is a visiting scholar in the History of Science Department at Harvard University. This interview originally appeared in Feminists for Choice and is reprinted with permission.
1. What was the motivation behind writing Bodies in Doubt?
So much of the “history” of intersex begins in the mid-1950s with a critique of John Money and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University. This was an important period, of course, because Money’s protocols became widely adopted, but it was hardly the beginning of the story of the medical management of intersex. As an early American historian, I wondered what happened to those born with unusual bodies in earlier eras. I wanted to find out how the gradual process of medicalization affected our understanding of how male and female bodies were supposed to look.
By Adam Turner
Welcome to the second in a series of posts discussing genetics, prenatal testing, and genetic counseling. In this post we’ll be thinking about blame and birth atypicality. Earlier this month the New York Times and other news media reported on the findings of a recent study published in the journal Nature. In some cases, the study suggested, the increased genetic mutations found in older men’s sperm could make it more likely their offspring might develop autism or schizophrenia.
It may come as no surprise that a few of us here at Nursing Clio are big, crazy Mad Men fans (see here). Although I had my early reservations about how the show portrayed women during its first season, I have eventually grown to love the way Matthew Weiner has developed interesting, complex, and strong… Read more →
The media’s sexual objectification of women has come under increasing scrutiny, as well it should. But what about advertisements promoting consumer goods through domestic violence? Roughly every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten. And we ask how can this be changed? Many professionals and women’s rights advocates have written on the subject to address the multifaceted problem of intimate partner violence (IPV), and the issue is complex with social, legal, political, and cultural, and factors. There is no quick fix. But, here’s an easy one to start with: maybe, just maybe, companies shouldn’t capitalize on ads advocating violence against women. The media is a powerful means of disseminating cultural values and ideas. Advertisements using domestic violence have long been used, which fuels social messages that essentially condone violence against women. It’s time to break the cycle.
There has been a lot of controversy recently over Skinny Gossip’s criticisms of Kate Upton’s body. The site called her well-marbled and an example of how we are 80% genetically identical to cows (which is news to me). The outrage was loud and the fury palpable as website after website howled in protest over the Skinny Gossip’s insistence that Upton was fat. Yes, fat. I am not one who spends a considerable amount of time on any website (except for Nursing Clio and Facebook, of course), but I decided to devote some time on Skinny Gossip.
There appears to be a nationwide obsession with female reproductive health and, by extension, women’s sexual performance, and its relationship to the state. Women’s access to reproductive health services and the means to exercise full sexual autonomy (which, for heterosexual women, means birth control, including the option of abortion) has been regulated and, in some states, denied under both public and private insurance plans. Meanwhile, lawmakers have chosen to ensure that male sexual performance and the pleasure it brings is available even to those men who are on Medicare. Earlier this year, female lawmakers across the country, fed up with this sexual double standard, began introducing legislation targeting male sexual and reproductive health.