By Tina M. Kibbe
Originally I envisioned this post as a commentary on labels or stereotypes, and how they serve to sort and categorize individuals. We all do it….give labels to people in an attempt to construct an orderly inventory in our minds. However, while they can sometimes be helpful and provide a common vocabulary, labels can often limit our understanding and obstruct our view of the whole individual. I specifically wanted to address labels in relation to gender as a follow up to Ashley Baggett’s excellent post on masculinity and Adam Turner’s awesome post in which he talks about sorting and categorizing people. In the course of my writing, however, an unexpected turn-of-events occurred. I was asked to temporarily teach a third-grade class. So, I decided to look at gender and labels from a different perspective–from a third-grade point-of-view. It turned out to be an excellent source of material and I thought I would share some things I’ve learned from these plain-talking third-graders.
By Helen McBride
Last month, British journalist Suzanne Moore published an article in the New Statesman about female anger. The main point of her article was how, in her opinion, women tend to turn anger in at themselves instead of projecting it outward and targetting the source:
“We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape—that of a Brazilian transsexual.”
While invoking the image of “a Brazilian transsexual” was not her intention (I can only assume), Moore has unleashed a heady storm of controversy. Moore’s seemingly flippant use of the phrase has been seen by the trans community as offensive.
By Heather Munro Prescott
Today is NARAL’s annual Blog for Choice day, which falls this year on the 40th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. One this day, NARAL invites bloggers and activists to get people to talk about reproductive rights online. By participating in Blog for Choice day, we join NARAL’s mission to “let readers and the mainstream media know that a woman’s right to choose is a core progressive value that must be protected.” NARAL’s deliberate decision to retain the word “choice” is quite a contrast to Planned Parenthood’s commemoration of Roe’s 40th anniversary. In advance of this event, Planned Parenthood launched a new campaign, Not in Her Shoes which seeks to move beyond labels in the abortion debate:
This past December, the world saw another celebrity sex scandal. Suzy Favor Hamilton, the three-time U.S. Olympian, was outed as having a “secret life” as a high-priced escort. As a resident of Madison, there was no way I could have avoided hearing about the fall from grace of one of Wisconsin’s golden girls. Her name… Read more →
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.