For folks who don't know, the LRU is a compilation of items from the past week that may be of interest to VPers and is intended to broaden the kinds of conversations we have here.
To submit articles for next week's round-up, e-mail email@example.com. If you have additional articles you'd like folks to know about this week, feel free to comment directly to this post.
As a reminder, in lieu of trigger warnings, I use keywords describing the themes of the piece. Please skim these before deciding to read the excerpt or click through for the full article. Outside sources are not safe spaces, and mainstream source's comments should almost always be avoided. The links I highlight don't necessarily reflect VP's views, or even my own, for that matter.
This week's round-up includes: maternal deaths and race; a new birth control app; a brief history of the sports bra; hunger, food policing, and "those people;" unpacking some ideas about sex and gender; and trans, intersex, and non-binary characters in science fiction and fantasy.
- Why Don’t More People Care About Black Maternal Deaths? by Cynthia R. Greenlee at RH Reality Check (Keywords: pregnancy, childbirth, maternal death, race, class, reproductive justice)
In the United States, a nation that spends more on health care than its industrialized peers, Black women die from pregnancy-related causes at rates three to four times higher than their white counterparts. Though they generally have less access to prenatal care and health insurance, Black women also have more frequent and longer antenatal hospital stays. They are more likely to experience pregnancy loss or complications when compared with whites and Hispanics.
- Is my birth control safe for me? There’s an app for that by Dr. Jen Gunter (Keywords: birth control, health care, medical eligibility criteria, doctors, technology)
In 2010 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) overhauled their safety recommendations for the all the various methods of birth control, both prescription and non prescription. It’s a great document because there are a variety of recommendations depending on the medical condition, the age of the patient, and other variables. For example, with migraines the recommendations vary both my age and by the presence of aura and after bariatric surgery the recommendations vary by type of procedure.
I keep the PDF on my desk top for handy access at work, but the document is long and a little cumbersome in layout given the amount of data and the extensive detailing of references. However, the data is also available as an app which makes accessingphoto-3 info on contraception that much easier. And it’s free (yeah, CDC).
- A Brief History Of The Sports Bra by Bring Back Anthony Mason at Regressing (Keywords: breasts, bras, sports, body shaming)
Jogging was sweeping the nation in the 1970s, and Title IX's passage was ushering even more women into athletics. These may have been boom times for American fitness, but they were bad ones for American breasts. Undergarment technology hadn't kept up with the brisk pace of exercise fads and social justice, leaving the nation's brassieres woefully unequipped to handle the demands of a new era. We were a sore and unsupported country, chafing beneath the seams, forever adjusting our straps, bouncing uncomfortably into a more equal day. Obviously, there was a demand for something better.
- Those People by Jennifer Ball at Scary Mommy (Keywords: food, hunger, class, food policing)
Dang. We have some swanky grocery shoppers at our school…the bins are filled with “fancy” foodstuff, lots of organic offerings, and some deviations from the standard mac and cheese/boxes of spaghetti. There’s rice pasta, artichoke hearts packed in seasoned oil, gluten-free crackers, olive tapenade….and quinoa. I look at those bins like Sylvester looked at Tweety Bird.
Like I was doing earlier this week. Walking by, checking out the bins. One of the women who helped organize the drive was in the hallway, and I called out to her “Wow! Look at all this awesomeness!” or something similarly enlightening. She beamed and said, “I know! The parents at this school are amazing.”
- Another Sex/Gender Controversy by Will at Skepchick (Keywords: sex, gender, gender roles, trans, intersex, gender essentialism)
The male/female categorical distinction as Gia has defined it is not a distinction that is made universally in all cultures. In fact, to make such a claim is projecting Euroamerican beliefs about sex/gender onto other sex/gender systems while simultaneously making the implicit claim that our way of viewing sex/gender is the “one true way.” Further, this is a perfect example of the social construction of sex, which Gia says later in the post that she does not understand. Sex as a biological category—as all ontological categories—is socially constructed. This is not to deny the materiality and reality of bodies; rather, it is to distinguish the meanings and senses we make of bodies from the bodies themselves.
- Trans, intersex, and non-binary characters in science fiction and fantasy by Luz Delfondo at Disrupting Dinner Parties (Keywords: books, fantasy, gender, intersex, science fiction, trans*)
As I often like to point out, a major appeal of speculative fiction, such as science fiction, fantasy, and alternate history, is that it lets us imagine the world as something other than it is. That allows us to explore the frontiers of gender, and ask serious questions about why our society views gender the way it does. It also lets us imagine worlds in which a diversity of gender expression is accepted and normalized. I find that these correspond to trends in the way trans, intersex, and non-binary characters are represented in speculative fiction: as entry points into deep questions about gender, and as people with the same feelings and concerns as everyone else.
These two trends can contradict one another. The unique concerns of trans* people are interesting, too often ignored, and should be explored in fiction. On the other hand, it can be nice to have trans* characters who don’t lead into a Very Special Lesson about gender, but are just there, because trans* people exist, and lead lives that are mostly the same as anyone else’s.
Thoughts on any of these stories? Also, please don't hesitate to share anything I -- among other VP readers -- may have missed! What have you been reading or writing this week?