Category: Clio Reads

Learning to Love Science: Rebecca Onion’s Innocent Experiments and the History of an American Cultural Tradition

As a child, did your parents encourage you to participate in a science fair? Perhaps you received a chemistry set or model of the solar system for your birthday. Were you, like me, completely and utterly obsessed with dinosaurs to the point that you begged your parents for books on paleontology and tried to plow… Read more →

“We’ve Got to Get to Work”: John Lewis’s March

Congressman John Lewis is an American hero. As he tweeted on the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, he is the only speaker from that day of legendary oratory still alive. In his twenties, Lewis was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the youngest member of the “Big Six” leaders… Read more →

Playwright Alice Eve Cohen Asks Us to Reconsider What We Think We Know about Pregnancy and Motherhood

“What makes a mother real?” asks writer and performer Alice Eve Cohen in her newly-published play, What I Thought I Knew. In 1999, Cohen experienced the most improbably and bizarrely complicated pregnancy imaginable. Her play is a crystallization of her stranger-than-fiction pregnancy memoir that was acclaimed at its 2009 publication with book-of-the-year awards from Salon… Read more →

What to Expect When You’re an Expecting Superhero: Spider-Woman Shifts Gears

Like the best action, the new comic Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears, Vol 1: Baby Talk starts in media res. Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) talks on the phone with her best friend Carol Danvers (AKA Captain Marvel) as they both kick some ass. Carol is off in outer space, so they catch up about Jessica’s pregnancy. Six months… Read more →

Feminist Bodies, Feminist Selves

I have never known a person who was 100% content with everything about their body, 100% of the time. The pressure to be physically perfect — thin and athletic, with flawless skin and hair that conforms to the perfect straightness or curl you prefer — obviously falls especially hard on female-bodied people. I think most… Read more →

“Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Girls and Sex (But Really Need to Ask)”: Peggy Orenstein’s Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape

In American media and pop culture, there is a constant barrage of fear and panic about teens, especially girls, and sexuality. Are kids having sex too young, too frequently, with too little emotional attachment? Is alcohol causing them to make poor or reckless choices when it comes to sex? Why is sexual assault seemingly on… Read more →

So Much To be Done: The Writings of Breast Cancer Activist Barbara Brenner

When Barbara Brenner was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, friends recommended that she read Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals. That book, together with Lorde’s A Burst of Light, inspired her to become a breast cancer activist. Three years after her death from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in 2013, So Much To Be Done. The… Read more →

Clio Reads: A Review of It Hurts Down There: The Bodily Imaginaries Of Female Genital Pain

“Female genital pain” is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of often miserable, frequently perplexing conditions that render women’s genitals, external or internal or both, a zone of persistent, intransigent pain. Yet the names physicians have given these conditions are indicative of little more than their primary symptoms: “vulvodynia,” perhaps the most common diagnosis,… Read more →

Surviving While Black in America: A Review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me

One of the products of Americans’ growing consciousness around racism and the police killings of African Americans is the conversation about the “talk” that African American parents conduct with their sons and daughters. I do not recall my mother and father engaging me in a specific conversation, but rather a series of conversations about navigating… Read more →

Clio Reads: Female Circumcision and Clitoridectomy in the United States: A History of a Medical Treatment

By Carrie Adkins

Many Americans think of female circumcision and clitoridectomy as cultural or religious practices that have taken place primarily in other parts of the world — not as medical procedures performed by doctors in the United States for the past 150 years. And though scholars of gender, sex, and medicine have noted the significance of clitoral surgeries, we have been missing a historical monograph on the subject.[1] Sarah B. Rodriguez’s new book, Female Circumcision and Clitoridectomy in the United States: A History of a Medical Treatment, fills this gap in the scholarship and, more importantly, explores the relationships between clitoral surgeries, social prescriptions for female behavior, and cultural approaches to sexuality and marriage. It’s an important book, and many Nursing Clio readers will find it fascinating.