By Cheryl Lemus
Two nights ago I ran across a story about Farrah Abraham, who set off a firestorm when she posted online that she waxed and tweezed her 3-year-old daughter’s eyebrows because she had what Abraham described as a unibrow. The moment she admitted what she did, people called her insane, ignorant, and labeled her a “bad mother.” Farrah Abraham is known for her appearance on Teen Mom, a show that glorifies teenage motherhood and turns its participants into minor celebrities. Now as a mother myself, I could throw myself into the mix and condemn Abraham for falling victim to the rancid consumer culture that plagues motherhood, but I’ll refrain mainly because I, as well as most mothers, have acquiesced to the rampant consumerism that shapes our opinions, criticisms, and habits of mothering. In fact, when it comes to beauty and clothing, many mothers have become comfortable with our children mirroring our fashion choices. There are many reasons for this, but seemingly since the 1950s middle-class mothers and daughters looking like twins or looking older/younger than they are reflects changing norms regarding girlhood and motherhood. Girlhood and motherhood has become increasingly sexualized, as the pressure to look older or younger has grown.
By Carrie Adkins
First of all, a disclaimer: in many ways, American Horror Story is not Nursing Clio material. For starters, the show features haunted houses, alien abduction, demonic possession, and an angel of death; it does not, in short, aim for realism or historical accuracy. The first season offered very little content related to Nursing Clio’s focus on gender and medicine in a historical context, and after just a few episodes, I found it uneven and disappointing. There were, at least, some interesting (and purposefully horrifying) highlights – part of the back story involved an unscrupulous 1920s abortionist, and Jessica Lange did an amazing job playing a very, very, very bad mother – but in general, that season quickly lost its scariness and became ridiculous and repetitive. But oh, the second season!
By Helen McBride
The TEDxBelfastWomen event was the first of its kind to be held in the new Skainos building in the East of the city, as part of the Skainos urban regeneration project. TED is a non-profit organisation that aims to spread ideas. Started 25 years ago, it has broadened its scope to include more than the original Technology, Entertainment, Design and added the ‘x’ element. The x marks independently organised events that stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.
Sunday Morning Medicine is taking a much needed and well-deserved vacation. In the meantime, please enjoy this accurate representation of how my family celebrates the holidays. Happy Holidays from all of us at Nursing Clio!
By Thomas A. Foster
As you may well be aware, there is a spa in New York City that sells vajazzling. The flash and style of adding sparkling, jewel-like plastic to denim can also be accomplished for the vagina. Is our current, historically unprecedented, public focus on the vagina finally succeeding in creating a female cultural counterpoint to the penis? Are we nearing total equality of the sexes? The popular emphasis on the vagina is certainly on the rise. The explosive popularity of the Vagina Monologues, now regularly performed on college campuses, made many more comfortable with the V word. Social critic Naomi Wolf has recently argued for the existence of the “mind-vagina”connection. Commercials coyly refer to the letter V for various feminine products and sitcoms and singers laud their own embrace of the vajayjay as a way of indicating equal sexual footing with men. “Designer” vaginas are also part of this new emphasis. Cosmetogynecology is one of the fastest growing types of cosmetic surgery.
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
This past May, I attended the annual meeting of the Western Association of Women Historians, which is one of my favorite history conferences (I’m pretty sure there is no other history organization that concludes its awards banquet with a sing-a-long). Usually I hate to miss any of the sessions. But this year, I snuck off with Cheryl Lemus and another historian (I’ll call her L) to do a little “mentoring” in the shops of Berkeley. This isn’t totally facetious, as we were on a mission: to find me a properly fitted sports bra. I had started running a few months earlier, and while I had great shoes and a snazzy outfit, certain other areas of my anatomy were feeling less well-equipped. Cheryl and L are seasoned runners, and they were appalled by my bounce. So, we headed to the only place where any self-respecting women’s historian would go for such things: Title IX Sports.
By Helen McBride
It’s no surprise that laws concerning family planning have remained within a grey area in Ireland. Following the tragedy of Savita Halappanavar’s death, Amnesty International has called upon Ireland to clean up its act. Halappanavar entered University Hospital, Galway on 21st October due to severe back pain. This back pain was diagnosed as a symptom of a miscarriage, being 17 weeks pregnant at the time. Halappanavar later died on 28th October, the cause being classified as septicaemia. The situation has been explained by Halappanavar’s husband that upon discovering the miscarriage, they repeatedly asked for a medical termination, as Halappanavar was in substantial pain. This request was denied repeatedly over three days. RTE has outlined the timeline of events.
By Rachel Epp Buller
Last weekend I attended the 3rd annual Feminist Art History Conference at American University in Washington, D.C. While it was great to be surrounded by scholars with similar research interests, I found myself wondering how much longer we (as feminist scholars) will feel the need for a separate sphere, so to speak.
To be sure, conferences and organizations devoted to women’s histories have performed, and continue to perform, important roles. We offer alternative voices to patriarchal histories, not only recuperating individual women but reexamining through the lens of gender the kinds of histories that are told. We make visible marginalized herstories.
By Heather Munro Prescott
During the presidential election there were a number of speculations about Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s views on women, including horror stories circulated about his “shameful” behavior while serving as an elder in the LDS church. This led some to assume that the LDS church as a whole is poisonous for women.
By Rachel Epp Buller
Having made and studied art for quite a few years now, I find that issues in contemporary culture often lead my mind to wander to art historical references. “Binders full of women,” equal pay for equal work, reproductive rights – it all leads me back to art. For instance, over the centuries we’ve seen a consistent historical pattern of interest among male artists in representing the vagina – Leonardo da Vinci, Gustave Courbet, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Christian Schad, to name only a few (see also TimeOut New York’s recent survey of the vagina in art, heavily populated by male artists). But it’s only in recent decades that women artists have turned to the vagina as subject (object?).