Tag: medicine

My Experiences with Auto-Immunity and Why I Dislike the Term “Able-Bodied”

I dislike the term “able-bodied.” I see this term used frequently in academic and activist scholarship, as well as everyday language, often without giving the term its due scrutiny. As an academic who studies structural inequalities based on race, gender, and disability, I find that it assumes a binary system structured on ableist ideas. It… Read more →

Mothers’ Natures: Sex, Love, and Degeneration in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Every so often, some viral article or other will declare that science “proves” or “confirms” that intelligence is inherited from mothers. (I know, because my own mother will promptly share it on Facebook.) Swiftly, of course, revisionary articles will appear correcting or debunking this claim, chastising armchair geneticists for their overly-simplistic understandings of the X-chromosome…. Read more →

The Eye at War: American Eye Prosthetics During the World Wars

In December 1943 Colonel Derrick Vail, ophthalmologist and consultant to the Army Medical Department in Europe, wrote in a memo: “There is a critical shortage of artificial eye supply.”1 Vail was referring to the shortage of optical glass traditionally used in the manufacture of prosthetic eyes in wartime. During the Second World War the United… Read more →

Renée Zellweger, Isabelle Dinoire, and the Stakes for Changing the Face

On October 20, 2014, Renée Zellweger attended the Elle Women in Hollywood event, her first appearance in the public eye after a long hiatus. She looked different; people do, over time. Most people do; some work very hard to continue to look exactly the same. Zellweger’s face was exhaustively discussed, dissected, and criticized in the… Read more →

The Trauma of Displacement: How History Can Help Us Understand the Refugee Experience

In February of 1915, a fifty-five year old woman, who we will call Ella, was admitted to London’s Colney Hatch Asylum, exhibiting symptoms that doctors defined as “mental stress.” For the past three weeks, she was, according to her case notes, “noisy and restless … she gets little sleep … it is difficult to persuade… Read more →

What’s Truly Outrageous About Intersex?

On August 5, the World News Daily Report published an article that has been circulating on my Facebook newsfeed every day since: “Hermaphrodite Impregnates Self, Gives Birth to Hermaphrodite Twins.” Never mind that at the bottom of the webpage, the World News Daily Report publishes the following disclaimer: that it “assumes all responsibility for the… Read more →

The Magic Liquid that Guarantees the Life of the Infant: Breast Milk as a Superfood

“Try squirting milk on that.” I stopped keeping track of how many times someone recommended healing my newborn’s ailments with a direct application of breast milk. From the time my husband cut a nail too short to a slightly more serious case of pink eye, my friends and family had come to regard breast milk… Read more →

Book Review: Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital

America’s oldest public hospital started as a tiny, one-room infirmary in a New York City almshouse in 1736. Two hundred and eighty-one years later, it’s a sprawling hospital center complex with almost 900 beds, a massive outpatient service, dozens of adult and pediatric specialties, and medical care provided in over 200 languages. David Oshinsky narrates… 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 →

The Black Politics of Eugenics

Eugenics is still a dirty word. It makes us think about science gone horribly wrong. It reminds us of the ghosts of Nazis past. The specter of eugenics is invoked when discussing new genetic technologies, often serving as a warning that engineering humanity can go too far. It wasn’t always like this. For much of… Read more →