The interwebz have been abuzz this week, debating Moises Velasquez-Manoff’s editorial in the New York Times on autism and immune function. Although Velasquez-Manoff is a little late on the autism/immune function thesis (which has been posited in research projects since at least 2005), it’s his use of autism stereotypes and ableist language that put this article on my radar. It’s the assumption that autism is a sign of a broken or damaged child that has made me question both his interpretation of that thesis and the implications for the families of children with autism – and the autists themselves.
By Adam Turner
Welcome to the second in a series of posts discussing genetics, prenatal testing, and genetic counseling. In this post we’ll be thinking about blame and birth atypicality. Earlier this month the New York Times and other news media reported on the findings of a recent study published in the journal Nature. In some cases, the study suggested, the increased genetic mutations found in older men’s sperm could make it more likely their offspring might develop autism or schizophrenia.
This is a guest post by Elizabeth Reis, professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Oregon. Professor Reis is the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). This year (2012-2103) she is a visiting scholar in the History of Science Department at Harvard University.
The American Academy of Pediatricians recently released a statement saying that the health benefits of circumcision outweighed the risks. This pronouncement contradicts the Academy’s earlier ruling, just thirteen years ago in 1999, which stated unequivocally that the health benefits of the procedure were slim. The 1999 statement reversed a previous one made in 1989 that said there were good medical reasons for it; but a few years earlier, in 1971, the Academy had officially concluded that it was not a medical necessity. Clearly, circumcision is one of those surgeries about which opinion shifts back and forth over the years.
About two weeks ago, Nicholas P. Carfardi of the National Catholic Reporter, wrote a brief opinion piece and asked who was more pro-life, Obama or Romney? He argued that although Obama is clearly pro-choice, he is actually more pro-life than Romney, because Romney profits from abortions and supports cuts in federal spending that might actually increase the abortion rate. Carfardi did not go further to redefine the term pro-life or call on Catholics and other anti-abortion groups to address this term in a more nuanced and complex manner. I wish he had, because he may have addressed the hypocrisy that lies beneath the term. Look, as a self-exiled Catholic, I am very well aware of the Church’s stance on abortion. I am also familiar with the history of abortion. But that is not what I want to focus on today. The term “pro-life” needs a new definition. There is much more to being pro-life than just praying, preaching, marching, and legislating for the rights of the fetus. Being pro-life means supporting the rights of babies, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. If you are going to claim you are pro-life, then you must support the life outside the womb, not just the one attached to the umbilical cord. So, are you really pro-life?
In a T.V. interview on Sunday, August 19, Representative Todd Akin stated, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare…. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” I don’t know whether we should be livid about his qualifying rape into “legitimate” and “illigetimate” (whatever those categories are) or that he is perpetuating a myth- a horrible ignorant fabrication- about pregnancy and rape. Sexual Assault survivors have endured enough after such a traumatic event. Already, rape victims face a society that perpetuates blaming the survivor, as I mentioned in my prior post on Victim Blaming. Do we really need to add even more problems onto their plate?
Breasts are everywhere in popular culture. This is nothing new. And yet I’ve been struck in recent years by the resurgence of the breastfeeding body in visual culture and contemporary art. It’s apparently a big deal (i.e., magazine-cover newsworthy) that Salma Hayek, Alanis Morrisette, Tori Spelling, Kourtney Kardashian, Angelina Jolie, Christina Aguilera, and many other celebrities breastfeed their babies.
This may come as a shock to some of you, but I have a difficult time talking about sex.
[I will pause a moment while my friends, colleagues, and former students pick themselves up off the floor and recover from the raucous laughter that I’m sure they just engaged in.]
Okay. Let me clarify: I have a difficult time talking with my son about sex.
Part 1 in a series on genetic counseling What makes for a healthy baby? Is it an absence of something? Or is it a particular quality? Once we’ve defined it, how do we go about guaranteeing healthy babies? In a July 20 article in the New York Times’ parenting blog, Motherlode, author Ellen Painter Dollar shared an emotional and… Read more →
The media’s sexual objectification of women has come under increasing scrutiny, as well it should. But what about advertisements promoting consumer goods through domestic violence? Roughly every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten. And we ask how can this be changed? Many professionals and women’s rights advocates have written on the subject to address the multifaceted problem of intimate partner violence (IPV), and the issue is complex with social, legal, political, and cultural, and factors. There is no quick fix. But, here’s an easy one to start with: maybe, just maybe, companies shouldn’t capitalize on ads advocating violence against women. The media is a powerful means of disseminating cultural values and ideas. Advertisements using domestic violence have long been used, which fuels social messages that essentially condone violence against women. It’s time to break the cycle.
On July 27, 2012, the Summer Olympic Games begin in London. Depending on your interests, they are the highlight of your year in sports or just another blip on your busy life. For me, I’m a Winter Olympic Games kind of girl, but I do appreciate several of the Summer Olympic events and I, like most of the world, watched in awe and excitement as Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals in 2008 (I think I actually remember jumping up and down, screaming at the top of my lungs. You?) I am giddy at the prospect of him earning even more medals, and he is one of my favorite Olympic athletes (this list also includes Dana Torres). But as the games approached, what struck me the most was the imagery of the Olympic athletic body. Now, I work out on a regular basis (usually, if my hips and pelvis are cooperating), but as I enjoy the health benefits from my sweat sessions, I’ve also become more appreciative of athletes and athletic types. For them working out is not about losing weight or feeling better about oneself; it is actually a lifestyle, an integral part of their being.