Category: News

Moralizing Motherhood: America’s Long History of the Breastfeeding Police

By Ginny Engholm

A recent Facebook post by our own Jacqueline Antonovich weighed in on one of the most contentious issues in the mommy wars — breastfeeding. She was responding to another Facebook post by a well-known feminist blogger who goes by the name The Feminist Breeder. Antonovich wrote, “I finally had to unfollow a page about feminism and birth/parenting. I’m all for breastfeeding, but if you are going to say you are not trying to judge, but you just ‘don’t get’ women who bottle feed, then you are too wrapped up in your liberal, upper-class, white world to understand how economics, culture, body type, cancer, and/or sexual trauma can make breastfeeding difficult or impossible. So tired of sanctimonious mommies.”

Come to the Dark Side: Disability as “Dark” Civil War History

By Sarah Handley-Cousins

While the rest of the world was happily decking the halls and calling for goodwill toward men, Civil War historians — in the now-famous words of Historista blogger and historian Megan Kate Nelson — were “freaking out.”

They weren’t freaking out because of the discovery of some great new source material, or an exciting new publication. They were freaking out because both Civil War History and The Journal of the Civil War Era, the two major journals in the field, each published an article in their December issues that criticized the state of current Civil War research and writing. The major concern for the articles’ authors — Gary Gallagher and Kathryn Shively Meier for JCWE and Earl J. Hess for CWH — was that Civil War military historians, already a dying breed, are being hurried to their demise by eager social and cultural historians who dismiss military history as unscholarly and old-fashioned. Earl Hess suggests that “understanding the real battlefield of 1861-1865 is essential to understanding everything else about the Civil War.”[1] Gallagher and Meier assert that “because the Civil War was a massive war, every scholar of the conflict should be at least basically versed in its military history.”[2]

Can a Gluten-Free Diet, Qi Gong, or Ballet Barre Cure my MS? Only a Randomized Controlled Trial Can Say…

By Lara Freidenfelds

“You have multiple sclerosis? My cousin cured her MS with a gluten-free diet and qi gong — you should really try it!”

Since I was diagnosed with MS 17 years ago, I have heard many, many versions of this story, though with a rotating cast of miracle cures in the starring role. Some involve mainstream pharmaceuticals; many more are from the world of alternative medicine. I usually politely say, “Thanks for letting me know,” and let it drop. Everyone who tells me a story like this wishes for my good health, and I do appreciate that.

Confessions of a Newborn Father: The Birth of the “Hands-on” Dad

By Ginny Engholm

A recent Vicks Nyquil commercial has a typical scenario for an advertisement set in a workplace. A clearly sick man — coughing, runny nose, the whole works — opens what looks like an office door a crack, pops his head in, and delivers the one line of the commercial: “Dave, I’m sorry to interrupt. I gotta take a sick day tomorrow.” While this might seem like a very traditional depiction of masculinity, a guy at the office asking his male boss for a day off, the ad subverts this narrative by revealing an adorable toddler standing up in his crib. The tagline of the ad — “Dads don’t take sick days. Dads take Nyquil” — makes the ad’s argument clear. A real man is one who is so dedicated to his real job — fatherhood — that he continues to parent through his colds and flus. While the idea of moms’ total and complete dedication to their roles as mothers has of course been part of our cultural understanding of motherhood for, well, forever, the shift in the past decade or so of depicting fathers as equal-opportunity martyrs, devoted to the care of their children, strikes many modern viewers as something new.

Hoping for a Good Death

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you this special report: Elizabeth Reis, professor and chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at the University of Oregon and Nursing Clio‘s content editor, has penned a beautiful essay over at the New York Times. In it, she discusses the difficult medical decisions surrounding her father’s last days. Read… Read more →

Worlds of Rape, Words of Rape

Stories of rape again fill the news. Rolling Stone featured an article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely about University of Virginia’s responses to rape at a fraternity party. The resurrected history of Bill Cosby’s sexual assaults on women has dominated headlines. Of course, October also had campus rape news: Columbia University student Emma Sulkewicz’ “Carry that Weight… Read more →

Motherhood, Expanded

By Rachel Epp Buller

I was a senior in high school when Vice President Dan Quayle delivered his soon-to-be-infamous diatribe against Murphy Brown while on the campaign trail. Quayle was supposed to be addressing the Los Angeles race riots, but along the way he ended up blaming single mothers for a decline in social values and blasting Candice Bergen’s fictional TV character for glorifying single motherhood as “just another lifestyle choice.”[1] Although the speech was viewed at the time as a political gaffe, Quayle and then-President Bush capitalized on the media frenzy to politicize the notion of “family values.” They sought to convey to voters that motherhood should be confined to the institution of heterosexual marriage; morally questionable single mothers endangered both the welfare of children and society as a whole. In the years since Quayle’s speech, journalists, sociologists, and historians have continued to write about the Murphy Brown incident.[2] Some argue that Quayle’s stance has proven prophetic and that single mothers do indeed wreak havoc on the social fabric.[3]

“This is our Freedom Summer”:  My Reflections on #FergusonOctober

By Austin McCoy

My decision to participate in Ferguson October was spur of the moment. I did not plan to attend, but my partner and her roommate convinced me to go. My interconnected multiple selves — black man, job-seeking graduate student, and activist committed to social justice — waged a battle for my conscience and time. My multiple deadlines and obligations as a graduate student made such a trip inconvenient. Yet, I recalled my reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict. I remembered crying to express my helplessness and grief. I told myself that night, I would not be caught on the sidelines in the fight for racial justice again. I promised that I would do anything in my power to be present the next time, because, unfortunately, I knew there would be a next time.

A Letter and the Legacy of “Not White” in the USA

By Adam Turner

With the events of the past months, and as Austin McCoy discussed here on Nursing Clio last week, it should be clear that white privilege is still alive and well in the United States. Despite the optimism following President Obama’s election six years ago, and the Republican Party’s tweets, we do not yet live in a society where the color of your skin doesn’t matter. To make matters worse, while the discussion should be about how best to fix the problems of racial injustice and economic oppression in the United States, substantial numbers of people refuse to even accept that it’s a problem. They prefer to believe that those who suffer from systemic poverty, police violence, and a biased justice system get only what they’ve earned by being lazy, or breaking the law, or acting badly.

Not Your (Old, White) Father’s History

If you haven’t already heard, the New York Times recently interviewed retired Princeton historian of the Civil War James McPherson for the newspaper’s “By the Book” feature. McPherson is a well-respected legend in the field, yet many historians were left scratching their collective heads over his responses to such questions as “Who are the best historians writing today?” and “What are the best books about African American history?” Suffice it to say, his answers seemed very white, very male, and well, very dated.