Category: News

“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.

The Secret to Girls’ Success (Think: Periods)

By Lara Freidenfelds

When you were 14, if you had your period, but your parents couldn’t buy you pads or tampons, would you have gone to school? It’s unimaginable, right? It would have been too gross and humiliating to even consider. Better to pretend to be sick, and deal with the missed work and the bad grades.

In many parts of the world, that’s exactly what happens. And that means that girls don’t get educated, even where they have access to schools.

Pregnancy Is Bad for Women’s Health

By Ginny Engholm

Our sentimentalizing of pregnancy, combined with our faith in modern medicine, have contributed to a backlash against birth control, encouraging us to see pregnancy as low risk and to lose sight of its dangers and perils. Contraceptives — and legal access to them — continue to be a source of controversy, political wrangling, and ideological posturing because the political and cultural discussion surrounding them focuses on issues of personal choice and sexual mores rather than questions of health. The recent Supreme Court decision regarding Hobby Lobby reflects this view of birth control as a matter of religious conviction and personal choice rather than reproductive health. If pregnancy is so natural, so low risk for women, then preventing pregnancy is not a medical issue, but rather a personal decision. Even efforts to argue that women use birth control for other health reasons, such as treating PMS or endometriosis, miss the point that limiting, preventing, and spacing pregnancies are medical reasons to use birth control. The backlash against contraceptives stems, in part, from our current misguided view of pregnancy as a low risk medical event for women. The problem with this view is that pregnancy is dangerous, and medical science has a long history of revealing its risks and perils for women.

PrEP, The Pill, and the Fear of Promiscuity.

By Ian Lekus

The first I learned of PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, came from the signs and postcards around Fenway Health, Boston’s LGBT community health center. Those advertisements appeared as Fenway served as one of two U.S. research sites for PrEP, in advance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving Truvada in July 2012 as the first drug deemed safe and effective for reducing the risk of HIV transmission.[1] As I started learning more, I quickly discovered how its advocates frequently compare PrEP to oral contraceptives. One PrEP researcher I consulted with early on in my investigations explicitly drew the parallel to her decision to use the Pill a few years earlier. Some of the similarities jump out immediately: for example, like oral contraceptives, PrEP — a pill taken daily to prevent HIV infection — separates prevention from the act of sexual intercourse itself.

Craftivists v. Hobby Lobby

by Rachel Epp Buller

Creative stamp arrangements. Cross-stitched fallopian tubes. Knitted uteri. This summer’s social media circulation gave witness to all manner of artsy protests surrounding reproductive rights. Practitioners of this sort often call themselves “craftivists,” a portmanteau that makes clear the use of craft for activist ends. (“Lactivism” indicates a similar word blend, regarding activists who mobilize around issues of lactation.) Guerrilla knitting, yarn bombing, yarn storming, and granny graffiti are all terms in the craftivist lingo (some lovely examples of which can be seen here). To get their message out, craftivists often work in public spaces – sometimes in a guerrilla, dead-of-night manner – and their colorful, even fanciful creations can provide a non-threatening point of entry for public discussion of serious issues. In July and August this year, craftivists made sneaky appearances at Hobby Lobby stores around the U.S. to leave art-based messages for the retail giant as well as for their fellow crafters.

Collective Fat Awareness in 1950s America: Wishful Shrinkers or Cheerful Cherubs?

I recently returned to New Zealand, the country where I grew up, and met with a childhood friend for a long overdue catch-up over coffee. The conversation turned to my doctoral research and how my recent research trip to the Midwest had gone. As I recounted my archive adventures and my delight at finding such… Read more →

Pub Quiz #1: Ye Olde America

By Adam Turner

Welcome to the inaugural Nursing Clio Pub Quiz, the “Ye Olde America” edition. I just finished teaching a four-week summer course on US women’s history to 1870, which left my head buzzing with little facts and historical anecdotes about women in colonial America and the early republic. Being a fan of trivia (and a bit of a nerd) I decided the perfect outlet for these snippets of the past would be a blog version of the venerable pub quiz. Let’s see how you do! (No Wikipedia peeking, folks.) Good luck!

A Doula in Every Birthing Suite

By Paula A. Michaels

The question of the contraceptive mandate has garnered the lion’s share of attention regarding the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on women’s health services, most notably in the recent Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College decisions. As unquestionably important and pressing as these issues are, what has earned virtually no discussion is the opportunity that the ACA offers to improve the quality of care for women who choose to become pregnant. The potential for doulas—trained, experienced labor companions—to significantly improve health outcomes, raise patient satisfaction, and lower costs has not received the consideration it deserves.