By Adam Turner
Today I’ll be focusing specifically on the idea that a person, or a part of a person’s body, can be “ambiguous.” I’d like to start by noting that the word itself is fraught. As I mentioned, it can be both empowering and hurtful depending on how it’s used. The first question is: ambiguous to whom? Is this person ambiguous to themselves? Or are they just ambiguous to the person doing the looking? A person who, like many of us, is trying to sort and categorize the people around them into boxes labeled “male” or “female,” “gay” or “straight,” “black” or “white.” But — and this gets at one of the reasons I love Hedwig, with all its issues — ambiguity does not have to be a problem. Taken up dusted off and worn proudly ambiguity can carve out spaces for human difference in a culture and a history too often resistant to divergence from the “norm.”
By Sandra Trudgen Dawson
My first job as a State Registered Nurse in mid-1980s Britain was night shift on an Acute Geriatric ward in Portsmouth. The shifts were long—eleven and a half hours—and it was hard, physical work. All sorts of strange things happen at night. At times it felt as though the ward was bewitched—sometime around midnight. Hospital patients who were perfectly sane during daylight hours became confused, frenzied and belligerent after darkness fell. Nakedness, for some reason and for some patients, became an urgent necessity as did climbing over bed rails or side tables. Zimmer frames (walking frames) and walking aids so benign on dayshift, transformed into fencing weapons at night as patients who had bottled up a lifetime of frustration finally let go. Keeping sparing patients apart can occupy nurses for hours at night. Hiding potential weapons does not always help as water jugs and cups can become flying missiles at night. Patients in Britain, unlike the United States, cannot be physically restrained in any way and so “sitting” with an agitated patient is the only action to prevent falls or the accidental maiming of another patient.
By Sean Cosgrove
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here on NursingClio and up until the other day I had been planning on writing something incredibly exciting (I swear) regarding the history of prostitution. As it often does, however, life happened. The image below rolled across my computer screen and derailed that little nugget in favour of a conversation about our current obsession with the innocence of childhood and the possible impact it has on decisions that we, as adults, make regarding how best to guide children into adulthood. How much does adult-onset awkwardness about the fact that children do have a sexuality and are sexed influence the way we talk about issues relating to sex?
By Elizabeth Reis
The previously obscure ultra-Orthodox Jewish rite of metzitzah b’peh (oral suction) has burst into the news lately and raised critical questions about genital surgery, consent, First Amendment rights, tradition, and the representation of Jews.
I would guess that most Americans, even Jewish-Americans, had never heard of metzitzah b’peh (oral suction) until the recent controversy between ultra-Orthodox Jews and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It refers to a custom performed after a circumcision in which a mohel (ritual circumciser) orally sucks the blood away from the baby boy’s penis. To insure the requirement that blood be shed and then hygienically removed (sucking was deemed the best means of achieving this hygiene anciently), metzitzah b’peh became part of circumcisions in the 2ndcentury, according to scholars. Most Jews, even observant Modern Orthodox Jews, have abandoned the practice. But a small minority adheres to and defends it, based on the First Amendment – somewhat surprisingly now on free speech grounds in addition to its religious liberty provisions.
By Austin McCoy
Reports of a deal between Democrats and Republicans to avert the so-called fiscal cliff finally surfaced a few hours before they all turned to pumpkins at midnight. I know I am not the only one who grew tired of hearing about the fiscal cliff, curb, or whatever metaphor you used to describe the crisis. Actually, I learned that I did not want anything to do with this when I sat down to write because the fiscal cliff negotiations were tiring, and frankly, rather annoying. Yet, in all of my annoyance, the outcomes of these negotiations had very tangible consequences for anyone receiving unemployment benefits, living on Medicare and Social Security, or relying on their payroll tax cut. Yet, the current deal only postpones sequester for two months, possibly setting up another conflict over long-term budget cuts. This aspect of the deal is the most disconcerting. It means the 2012 fiscal cliff crisis signified just one event in what has become a rolling crisis—a series of failed negotiations and compromises that lead to more failed negotiations, weak compromises, and crises.
By Adam Turner
I celebrate with all my heart the recent victories of the campaigns in Washington, Maine, and Maryland to to legalize same-sex marriage. It brings me immense pleasure every time I see another crack in the wall of discrimination against LGBT people – and all people. Now the Supreme Court has taken up the issue as well and there is a lot of excellent coverage on what this might and might not mean for the marriage equality movement. That’s not going to be my focus here, though. I also don’t intend to get into the clear parallels with interracial marriage and the Loving v. Virginia case. Instead, I’ll explore the issue of marriage itself in thinking about the question: Why is marriage the goal?
By Cheryl Lemus
I am not sure why I am writing you this letter, but it seems like a good time to write because America needs something that I only think you can deliver. Yesterday, 26 innocent people lost their lives, 20 of them were children between the ages of 5 and 10. I tell my children I believe in you and right now, I definitely need to believe. I’m an adult, female historian who has two beautiful children who are 6 and 7. I hugged them just a little tighter last night. I whispered “I love you,” in their ears because I wanted to make sure they knew how much they are loved. They are the exact same age some of those children who will never hear their parents’ whispers of love ever again and my throat tightens every time I think of that reality.
By Heather Munro Prescott
via re: Cycling, where Laura Werschler expresses her disgust with “drug and device based birth control and its zealots.” According to Werschler, “birth control in the U.S. has become synonymous with drugs and devices. The pill, patch, or ring; Depo-Provera or hormonal implant; copper IUD or Mirena IUD; traditional hormonal birth control or long-acting reversible contraceptives. All impact the function of the menstrual cycle; some suppress it completely. As a pro-choice menstrual cycle advocate I take issue with the fact that keeping your cycle and contracepting effectively are now considered mutually exclusive.”
By Heather Munro Prescott
Last year on my personal blog, I wrote of my disappointment that Health and Human Health Secretary Kathleen Sibelius overruled a recommendation by scientists at the Food and Drug Administration and by FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg that Plan B One Step be made available over-the-counter without any age restrictions. In her letter to the FDA Commissioner, Secretary Sibelius said that there were “significant cognitive differences” between older adolescents and younger ones So, if age restrictions were removed, then the drug would be available without prescription or other point of sale restrictions for even the youngest girls of reproductive age (the average age of menarche in the U.S. is 11.1 years). Never mind that only 1% of all 11 year old’s have been sexually active (and for those, “sexually active” usually means rape or incest).
This is an unprecedented move by an HHS secretary — i.e. none of her predecessors has ever overruled the FDA on a drug application. It was not the first time that “politics trumped science” when it came to emergency contraception (give background).(during the George W. Bush administration, the problem was the FDA Commissioner).
By Ashley Baggett
Gender-based violence plagues our community. Approximately 30% of Americans say they know someone who has been abused by her significant other in the past year. Rather than being a highly visible topic, a shroud of silence seemingly surrounds the issue. Over forty years after the Women’s Liberation Movement, we are still trying to break the silence and raise awareness. We should somehow be closer to ending the violence, but we are not. As a domestic violence survivor, I utilize opportunities to break the silence and speak about my experience. My hope is that I help to spread awareness and generate discussions that will dismantle the stereotypes and assumptions about intimate partner violence (IPV). I have little influence compared to some activists in the fight to end gender-based violence, and I have far less reach than large organizations. Most recently, an enormous group⎯ the National Football League (NFL)⎯ had the responsibility to take a stance against IPV and send a needed message to its huge fan base. And, they did.