Category: Activism

Whence Liberty? The Retirement of Anthony Kennedy

On June 27, 2018, at the end of Pride month, I was visiting my family in my childhood home. My wife texted me to tell me that Justice Anthony Kennedy retired. The night before, I had heard on CNN (always on in this house) that he might retire, but I hadn’t really allowed myself to… Read more →

Deconstructing the Stonewall Myth (Brick by Brick)

If you’ve been on social media at all during the month of June, you’ve probably seen Marsha P. Johnson’s name floating through your feeds. Johnson, a self-identified drag queen and founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, looms large in public consciousness today as the “black, bisexual trans woman, who was a sex worker, that… Read more →

The Discovery of the Mental Institution – With Apologies to David J. Rothman

On February 15, 2018, President Donald Trump spoke about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which Nikolas Cruz killed seventeen people. While Trump did mention “a shooter,” who “opened fire on defenseless students and teachers,” when it came to solutions, he focused on mental illness rather than the tools… Read more →

A Referendum – and A Path Toward Reproductive Justice for Ireland?

Citizens of the Republic of Ireland will vote on a referendum on May 25, 2018 to potentially overturn the state’s notoriously harsh anti-abortion laws.1 This moment is being characterized as a defining one, a  watershed moment for a state that Amnesty International and the United Nations have chastised for its misogynistic, anti-feminist policies. Indeed, for… Read more →

#MarielleFrancoPresente

On the evening of Wednesday, March 14, Marielle Franco — the thirty-eight-year-old human-rights activist, feminist, anti-racist organizer, and recently-elected city councilwoman — went to an event on young black women and organizing (“Jovens Negras Movendo as Estruturas”) in the central Lapa district of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.1 At around 9 pm, Marielle left the meeting…. Read more →

Gender, Health, & Marginalization: National Responses to HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and Jamaica

After conducting Fulbright research on the cultural politics of HIV/AIDS in Jamaican women’s lives, I became interested in exploring how Afro-diasporic women matter in responses to the pandemic. This interest grew alongside both my personal experiences as an HIV tester in Detroit and my exploration of the global dilemmas surrounding sexual and reproductive health. The… Read more →

Women’s Health Advocacy at Work

I realized belatedly that writing a biography of a women’s health activist as my dissertation (and wrestling with the late journalist Barbara Seaman’s strong personality) was an exhausting task. I finished graduate school a semester late, burnt out, and in desperate need of a paycheck. So when I saw a job advertisement from a women’s… Read more →

Fight and Flight: “Butch Flight,” Trans Men, and the Elusive Question of Authenticity

My junior year of college, my roommate and dear friend had a butch girlfriend. She aligned more with what many would consider traditional masculinity than I did; there was always a can of Axe body spray in the back of her truck. She confessed to me one night that she felt pressure to transition to… Read more →

#MeToo and the Massage Envy Scandal: Looking Back and Beyond

“Massage brings all the weirdos out of the woodwork. I mean real sick people who have problems,” massage therapist Kathleen Dynes told the Los Angeles Times in 1978, explaining she could understand why a local homeowners association boycotted her fledgling suburban massage business, despite her best efforts to make the office, where her mother also… Read more →

On Doors Open and Shut: Sex and Power Yet Again

One day last week, literally as I sat down in a shared meeting room to write this post, a senior male colleague “joked” that my arrival meant that we “better keep the door open” to avoid problems like those in the news. In that same twenty-four hour period, three female colleagues shared their fraught experiences… Read more →