A View from Inside the Suburban Mom Movement

Before 2016, conversations at school pickup time in my affluent suburb nearly always revolved around kids’ activities and home remodeling. We stayed away from political topics mostly; it seemed impolite to provoke a fellow PTO member.1 If anyone temporarily put up something as unaesthetic as a lawn sign amongst their manicured shrubs, it said something like, “Chatham Lacrosse,” or “Congratulations Logan! Rutgers Class of 2020.”

But during the week of the 2016 presidential election, new lawn signs suddenly sprouted along our sleepy one-road, four-block “downtown.” “Chatham Moms for Hillary” faced off against “Chatham Moms for Trump.”…

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Are Our Smart Devices Turning Us into Dumb Humans?

Are all of our “smart” devices training us to be “dumb” humans, too-often indistinguishable from mere machines? As click-through contracts and “like” buttons increasingly channel our social and personal relationships into algorithm-guided paths, are we losing something crucial about ourselves and our relationships? Is our very humanity at stake? In their new book, Re-Engineering Humanity, law scholar Brett Frischmann and philosopher Evan Selinger sound the alarm. I share their concern, so I am glad to see them taking on the problem in a rigorous and thoughtful way.

Full disclosure: Brett and I are friends, and we have discussed these ideas periodically since he first started research for the book. Brett knows that he can count on me to give him a hard time from a feminist perspective, for the good of the work. So here goes…

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When Did We Get So Hormonal? An Interview with Randi Hutter Epstein

Randi Hutter Epstein’s new book, Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything, traces the development of our scientific and medical understanding of hormones from the late nineteenth century to the present. Each chapter focuses on a different hormone, linking the science of endocrinology to fascinating details about the social context that shaped the science.

Randi is a historian, science journalist, and medical doctor, and she’s also the author of Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank. We recently sat down for a great conversation about Aroused

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The Obstetrician Who Cried “White Privilege”

In December of 2016, I wrote an essay for Nursing Clio called Nurse-Midwives are With Women, Walking a Middle Path to a Safe and Rewarding Birth. In the piece, I advocated that all women be given the option of delivering with hospital-based nurse-midwives, whose evidence-based practice results in safe births and, in some settings, significantly lower rates of interventions such as cesarean section. I only recently, quite belatedly, realized that OB-GYN Amy Tuteur had responded on her blog to my essay. She offered a belittling (and inaccurate) representation of my position on hospital-based nurse-midwifery, specifically invoking the specter of “white privilege.” Why? …

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Let’s Say “Happy Holidays” and Share Hope, Joy, and Light in the Darkness

“Merry Christmas!” It was the standard December greeting in the New Jersey town where I was raised. New Jersey is diverse as a whole, but it is made up of a patchwork of small towns, many of which have historically been ethnic enclaves. I took for granted that dried pasta had its own aisle at the grocery store, and when I moved to the Boston area as a young adult, I was shocked to have to hunt down spaghetti in the “ethnic” section. My classmates in the New Jersey public schools were mostly Catholic and mainline Protestant. Perhaps three-quarters were observant, and the rest were like me, Santa-and-Easter-Bunny secular Christians. There was one Jewish student in my grade, and during grade school each December her teacher invited her mother to our classroom to give a fun lesson about Chanukah and hand out dreidels and chocolate coins.

The first time I heard someone suggest that it was not polite to say “Merry Christmas” indiscriminately because not everyone celebrates Christmas, it was a revelation…

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Let’s Question All Versions of the Myth of Perfect Motherhood

I would call it a “pet peeve,” but the stakes are higher: I can’t stand policy arguments based on inaccurate or misrepresented historical facts. My latest peeve-trigger? Claire Howorth’s cover essay in Time magazine, critiquing “The Goddess Myth: How a Vision of Perfect Motherhood Hurts Moms.”

Now, I agree with much of Howorth’s criticism of the unrealistic standards of contemporary motherhood. It’s a main theme of my forthcoming book, Miscarriage and the Quest for the Perfect Pregnancy. But she and I part ways over the role of medicine and public health in our current conundrum…

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