Category: Culture

No Excuses: The 21st-Century Supercrip in Three Snapshots

In the past decade, the landscape of commercial fitness has changed drastically. It has become less dependent on stationary exercise machinery, and instead emphasizes free weights. CrossFit gyms and obstacle course races (OCR) such as Tough Mudder and Spartan Race have become mainstream fitness options. Both CrossFit and OCR have a paramilitary ethos and randomized training…. Read more →

“Witness the ‘Wall of Genitals’”: Anatomical Display at Brooklyn’s House of Wax

Located in the lobby of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Brooklyn, the House of Wax is a dimly lit bar decorated with more than 100 anatomical, pathological, and ethnographic wax models. Once part of Castan’s Panopticum, a popular attraction in Berlin from 1869 to 1922, the models were purchased last year by collector Ryan Matthew… Read more →

Safe Spaces: Not Just for College Campuses

While teaching the US history survey in 2013, I planned a lecture based on Danielle McGuire’s fantastic book on how sexual assault played a role in civil rights organizing. But I knew that I had a student in class whose attacker was going on trial for her rape at the end of the semester. I… Read more →

Mary, Did You Know?: An Essay on Christmas Carols, Medical History, and Reproductive Politics

The Christmas season is a curious time for a historian of women’s health, abortion, and maternal politics: at its historical and religious core, the holiday revolves around the legend of an unusual pregnancy and a remarkable birth. The miracle of Christmas, in the Christian tradition familiar to many Americans today, is not only the birth… Read more →

White Woman in Blackface as a Black Man in a White Coat? Scary.

Here’s a frank, perhaps surprising, and definitely disheartening admission: nothing you read here should be new to you. It’s been said a million times before. During Halloween weekend a white person at the University of Oregon appeared at an off-campus party in blackface. This distasteful and offensive act was distinctive only in its details —… Read more →

What Does It Mean to Say Millennials Are Having Less Sex?

The internet was abuzz this August with speculation about why Millennials have less sex than our elders did at our age. Perhaps economic precarity makes dating difficult, particularly for those living with their parents. Mediating our relationships through the internet could reduce physical contact. Or maybe ubiquitous pornography is replacing partnered sex, antidepressants are depressing… Read more →

It’s Time to Take Nature to Task

In March of this year, one of my respected colleagues and I published a short essay in Pediatrics in which we critiqued the use of “nature” in public health campaigns, specifically regarding breastfeeding promotion. The piece came out on the heels of the publication of my first book, which examines the “back-to-the-breast” movement and the… Read more →

A Childless Historian of Children: The Choice Not to Parent

I am a historian of women, sexuality, medicine, and childhood. As I write my dissertation on the history of sex education in Progressive Era America, I am constantly thinking about parenthood, family formation, and how adults try to teach children about sex and reproduction. And I do this work as someone who never plans to… Read more →

Sorry, I’m Disabled. Oh, Wait, I’m Not Sorry, Just Disabled.

“Sorry,” I say, “Sorry, but would you mind giving me the directions again a little slower? I have a visual impairment and I didn’t see which way you were pointing.” “So sorry, excuse me for bumping you, I didn’t see you there.” “I’m sorry I didn’t think to get permission ahead of time, but I’m… Read more →

Sex and the Purple Guy

Originally published by Tropics of Meta on April 21, 2016. For a generation of youth — queer and non-queer alike — Prince cleared the path to a different way of embodying gender and sexuality. I recited the intro to “Let’s Go Crazy” at my wedding reception in 2006, to a room of largely puzzled fifty-… Read more →