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.
On June 3, Hot97 DJ Peter Rosenberg took to the stage at MetLife Stadium to address the crowd at the radio station’s annual hip hop concert, Summer Jam 2012. While warming up the crowd, Rosenberg shouts, “I see the real hip hop heads sprinkled in here…I see them. I know there are some chicks here waiting to sing ‘Starships’ later – I’m not talking to y’all right now…I’m here to talk about real hip hop.” Rosenberg’s comments referred to Nicki Minaj’s hit song. In one swift moment, Rosenberg not only alienated Minaj and her fanbase, he drew the line between “real” hip hop and “pop” not just in terms of aesthetics, but in a disrespectful, public, and gendered manner.
There has been a lot of controversy recently over Skinny Gossip’s criticisms of Kate Upton’s body. The site called her well-marbled and an example of how we are 80% genetically identical to cows (which is news to me). The outrage was loud and the fury palpable as website after website howled in protest over the Skinny Gossip’s insistence that Upton was fat. Yes, fat. I am not one who spends a considerable amount of time on any website (except for Nursing Clio and Facebook, of course), but I decided to devote some time on Skinny Gossip.
There appears to be a nationwide obsession with female reproductive health and, by extension, women’s sexual performance, and its relationship to the state. Women’s access to reproductive health services and the means to exercise full sexual autonomy (which, for heterosexual women, means birth control, including the option of abortion) has been regulated and, in some states, denied under both public and private insurance plans. Meanwhile, lawmakers have chosen to ensure that male sexual performance and the pleasure it brings is available even to those men who are on Medicare. Earlier this year, female lawmakers across the country, fed up with this sexual double standard, began introducing legislation targeting male sexual and reproductive health.
“Don’t expect it to be flat,” is what the nurse said to me just hours after I had given birth to my son. You know she must have seen me glance in the mirror as I was climbing, actually dragging my beat up body into bed. I look at her and said, “huh?” “Your stomach, don’t expect it to be flat,” she pointed to my enlarged abdomen, “Many women think that once they give birth, *poof* their stomachs immediately go flat.” Since I had never experienced a flat stomach ever in my lifetime, I kind of smirked, looked in the mirror one more time, and thought, “it will go down.” But it never really did, especially when I found myself pregnant a year later (yeah, what was I thinking). In that time between the birth of my son and then the birth of daughter, I thought a lot about how I wanted to look as a mother, but it wasn’t until I made the conscious choice (well really my hubby did) not to have any more children, did I really begin to assess the historical and contemporary meaning behind motherhood and attractiveness. This led me to think more about the MILF and the idea of the sexy mama.
By Adam Turner
It was 1921. A time in America remembered for activity, life, and energy. But Arthur was tired. A merchant, 57 years old, he’d lived with chronic arthritis in both knees since his late 30s. Recently the pain had been getting worse. Arthur had trouble walking just one or two city blocks. And it wasn’t just his knees. He didn’t feel as ambitious as he used to. He felt his memory was failing. He also noted a “distinct decrease” in his sexual potency. Rather than take these changes in his body as just the signs of aging, Arthur sought the services of a doctor who might help him. The doctor Arthur went to see was Harry Benjamin.
Once upon a time (about two months ago) a group of academics/activists got together to start Nursing Clio, a collaborative blog project that aimed to engage with historical scholarship as a means to contextualize present-day political, social, and cultural issues surrounding gender and medicine. To be honest with you, dear readers (all 5 of you), in the planning stages I sometimes doubted whether we would have enough present-day material to continue the blog past the first month. What if we ran out of material? What if we said everything we needed to say? I made sure to make a list of emergency blog post ideas just in case we got desperate.
As it turns out, we have never once had to break into the emergency blog post survival kit. Between the North Carolina preacher who invoked the Holocaust in an anti-gay sermon, to the continuing War on Women, to the new movie Hysteria – our gender, medicine, and history cup runneth over, my friends.
Having researched and delivered conference papers on the topic, the medical historian in me danced a little jig when I heard Sony Pictures Classics was releasing a movie called “Hysteria.” I did, however, enter the theater with some reservations. Motion picture portrayals are notorious for being historically inaccurate, and if films are true to history, those not in the field tend to find it a little, well, boring. (That is unless Werner Herzog is narrating it with his dry but inadvertently humorous observations.) Thankfully, the $7.50 spent on a matinee wasn’t a waste at all. Just about anyone- unless you are akin to the Victorian “social purist” Anthony Comstock- can walk away from this movie feeling quite satisfied.
Our own Carolyn Herbst Lewis recently sat down with Jackie Wolf, host of WOUB’s Conversations From Studio B, to talk about her new book, Prescription For Heterosexuality: Sexual Citizenship in the Cold War Era. Carolyn’s book examines “how medical practitioners, especially family physicians, situated themselves as the guardians of Americans’ sexual well-being during the early years of the Cold War.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post to bring you this late-breaking historical analysis of the news. I planned on devoting my blogpost this week to my experiences documenting the history of Alcoholics Anonymous, but then Pastor Worley happened. The head of the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina recently delivered a fiery sermon denouncing President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage rights. His now-infamous sermon has swept the blogosphere and created easy fodder for the 24-hour news cycle. In Worley’s sermon he urges his congregation to never vote for “a baby killer and a homosexual lover.” Although some in the LBGT community would question whether the President is, in fact, a “homosexual lover,” many others, however, see the President’s public proclamation of support as a monumental step forward in the Gay Right’s Movement. Worley, on the other hand, sees Obama’s endorsement as a sin against nature, America and Christianity.