Ahem. I haven’t been seen around these parts in a while. For good reasons.
The last year has been one of tremendous change, which culminated in December 2014 with my accepting an offer to become the director of a medical library and biomedical communications shop very close to where I grew up, in east Tennessee just west of the Appalachian mountains.
It’s been a great and wonderful change, but the road to get here was extremely stressful. We had to sell a house, and quickly. We had to find a new place to rent that would allow us to keep our three cats and hundred-pound dog, without really being able to visit to look at places. We packed the entire house in Nashville while sick as dogs with the flu. We unloaded (just two of us) the entire 20+ foot moving truck in the rain, then turned around and drove back to Nashville to do the closing on the house. Then we packed a rental van with the last of the stray belongings and headed back east, and I started the new job just a day later.
There was definitely some crying in my underwear with a bottle of wine during the process.
The new position and new town have presented their own challenges. I resigned from the Our Bodies Ourselves work because I was sure I couldn’t juggle all of this newness while doing a good job for them. I hunkered down, learned the new people and place, and am finally starting to feel like I’m on my feet.
So of course I think I want to write again.
But the thing is, I don’t want to do it here. The world has changed while I’ve been taking a break (I am still bummed about Google Reader…), and I want to write and share information in different ways than I did a decade ago. I briefly experimented with making a “women’s health news” tumblr, but I no longer want to limit my writing to that one specific topic area. So that one’s gone, replaced by a more general site where I can address all of the topics that interest me.
The new, new place is at http://rachelrwalden.tumblr.com/ . This WordPress site will stay up as an archive – there’s a lot of content here I’m proud of, and personal items I don’t want to lose, like posts about my dear, departed cats (yeah, I’m a librarian cat lady, get over it). If you’re still interested in what I have to say about reproductive rights, but also interested in other healthcare, librarian, and social justice topics, please come on over. Here’s the introductory post: Wait, Why Am I Here?
I’m breaking my hiatus to point out that this is exactly what it looks like when states value the fetus’s potential for life over the consent, expressed wishes, and bodily autonomy of women.
In her husband’s words:
Though Mr. Muñoz did not speak at the hearing, he said in court papers that it has been painful to watch his wife deteriorate from the woman he knew to what he described as a corpse being kept alive against his wishes.
“Over these past two months, nothing about my wife indicates she is alive,” he said in an affidavit.
“When I bend down to kiss her forehead, her usual scent is gone, replaced instead with what I can only describe as the smell of death. As a paramedic, I am very familiar with this smell, and I now recognize it when I kiss my wife. In addition, Marlise’s hands no longer naturally grip mine for an embrace. Her limbs have become so stiff and rigid due to her deteriorating condition that now, when I move her hands, her bones crack, and her legs are nothing more than dead weight.”
What Texas is doing to this woman, to her family, in order to forcibly use her body as an incubator for her fetus while denying her wishes about her own death – it’s stomach-turning, cruel, and utterly predictable.
Recent news in the case of Marlise Muñoz, being kept on life support against her and her family’s wishes because she happened to be pregnant: Judge Orders Hospital to Remove Pregnant Woman From Life Support
Just poking my head up to say I’m still here, just swamped. Lots of personal things going on, busy at work (new area of responsibility, new title, and several systematic review projects while my usual partner in crime is on maternity leave), and responsibilities as a section program planner and official blogger for my annual professional conference in medical librarianship.
Sometime soon I’ll be able to breathe, and will start writing here again.
In the meantime, I still have regular posts for Our Bodies Ourselves every week.
This one is for the medlibs and me, some interesting changes in MeSH for 2014:
- The concept (and term for) TEN has been absorbed into Stevens-Johnson Syndrome – makes some sense given the “spectrum of disease” aspect.
- Drug Toxicity has been replaced by Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions, which is much more tedious to type from memory.
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has been replaced by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
- Arachnidism has been changed to the much easier to remember Spider Bites. Tick Bites is new, too.
- Hearing Impaired Persons has been changed to the more person-first Persons with Hearing Impairments.
- Delusional Parasitosis has been added, but it’s been kept separate from (though in the same section as) Morgellons Disease.
Other selected new terms:
- Human Trafficking
- Prisoners of War
- Organ Trafficking
- Workplace Violence
- Social Determinants of Health
- Patient Harm
- Preexisting Condition Coverage
- Dandruff and Dander
- Hand Sanitizers, and Hand Transplantation
- For nursing, we get Cardiovascular Nursing; Critical Care Nursing; Family Nurse Practitioners; Home Health Nursing; Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing; Nephrology Nursing; Nurses, Community Health; Nurses, International; Nurses, Public Health; Parish Nursing; Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; Rural Nursing
- Visual Analog Scale
- Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms
- Medical Marijuana
- And finally, Mobile Applications.
A few things that have caught my eye recently:
- Rape Victims As Criminals: Illegal Abortion after Rape in Ecuador – I haven’t read this report yet, but wanted to pass it along for exploration of how restrictive anti-abortion laws make criminals out of rape victims.
- A reminder about the disproportionate violence experienced by transgender people. Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old black transgender woman, was beaten to death. Someone on Facebook this week mentioned they hope the vitriol directed at Chelsea Manning online was not representative of what people would say in person to a transgender individual; unfortunately I think it very much is.
- Also a good time to remind folks of GLAAD’s Media Guide (particularly sections for reporters and writers covering transgender people and topics), and their guide to Reporting ON Private Chelsea Manning with Consistent Respect for Gender Identity. I’ve had some really positive responses in the past from reporters when writing them about problematic language in their stories, often with a brief explanation of the specific problem in their recent and then linking to a guide like this for more info.
- In which Allie of Hyperbole and a Half is brutally honest about her experience of depression, and probably does it better in a few comic panels than a million textbooks could.
- Feminish on tumblr gets it exactly right on girls, pink, and ultimately how providing extremely limited choices to consumers reinforces extremely narrow and entirely culture-dependent, non-inherent definitions of what children can be and like in a gender-essentialist BS way. Again in two comic panels.
- Racism linked to asthma risk for black women – I haven’t read the study yet; the summary here proposes a link about the stresses of experiencing racism and likelihood of developing asthma. I’d like to know if they managed to control somehow for exposure to shitty living environments, poor occupational health protection, and exposure to human-generated air pollution, but that wouldn’t change the headline – that stuff is still racist and classist.
- I don’t want to wade into the cesspool of Hugo Schwyzer, except that the Twitter hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen is an important read. Feminism doesn’t support all women equally, and this tag shows just a little bit of the how.
- Pics from DC related to the anniversary of the March on Washington. Also here.
- Relatedly, I enjoyed this Sound Opinions segment on music of the Civil Rights movement because they played some songs I really love, but noticed they didn’t really take it forward to talk about music *today.* It’s like civil rights music just stopped in the 1960s, but civil rights problems sure didn’t, so….?
- Incite! with an infographic on childbirth in Palestine – another topic on which I’m woefully underinformed.
- My current overarching institution – Vanderbilt – is dealing with a football player rape case. I have some thoughts about the role of the Coach’s attitudes toward women and how that likely affects his ability to provide any leadership to the team on these matters, but I’m not quite ready to share them yet.
- Also from the larger workplace, an initiative to allow women having c-sections to see more of their babies’ births and have earlier skin-to-skin contact – “Initiative makes cesarean births a family affair.”
- Some recent posts over on Our Bodies Our Blog look at how anti-abortion stigma can contribute to abortion complications, breast cancer, mastectomy, and breast implant safety concerns, and barriers that prevent women from accessing timely abortion.
- You must have seen the Camp Gyno ad for Hello Flo by now. Watch for the Dora appearance – “Menstruation demonstration!” I don’t really get Hello Flo’s product line – it’s not something I would go for – but I love this ad for not having blue water and for actually including young, active girls.
- I haven’t really watched Breaking Bad yet, but was intrigued by this op-ed by the actor who plays Skyler: “My character, to judge from the popularity of Web sites and Facebook pages devoted to hating her, has become a flash point for many people’s feelings about strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated women.”
I’m going to take a bit of an official hiatus here for a bit. As you can see, I haven’t been posting regularly. There are a number of things going on in my work and personal life, and it’s making it hard to enjoy the process of writing a topical blog here. I want to get back to talking in depth about things when I feel like it, and not feeling like making posts here is something I *have* to do.
So officially, I’m giving myself to the end of the calendar year. That doesn’t mean I’ll never post here during that time. I just needed a change in perspective to give me the room I need to just write when I feel like it, when I enjoy it, when I think the information I’m presenting is important. It’s about realigning the way I’m managing my time and priorities, and getting rid of guilt about things I’m not doing.
I’ll still be blogging regularly for Our Bodies Ourselves, which I really enjoy. If when you think of OBOS you think of a book from the 1970s, you should really check us out – we’re continuing to build on that legacy of informing women about important health issues, but using newer, faster media alongside updated and topical editions of the landmark book.
I’m also serving as Lead Blogger for the Medical Library Association’s 2014 annual meeting. If you’re attending MLA and interested in applying to be a correspondent for the blog, the call has just gone out – applications are due by the end of September.
Random junk when I feel like it linking but not commenting is on tumblr, although in general the hiatus stands.
North Carolina is one of *many* states that for decades forcibly sterilized people it considered “undesirable,” without their consent and sometimes even without their knowledge.
It sounds like a horrifying practice that must have been a long time ago, but there are people still alive who were violated in this way.
Now, North Carolina is set to become the first state to compensate victims, setting aside $10 million to pay off about 1,500 people estimated to still be alive (the practice supposedly stopped in 1974). They estimate something like 7,600 people were forcibly sterilized on that state.
They sure didn’t hurry, though. Most states seem to be simply avoiding this gross violation of human rights and dignity until everyone they victimized dies off and can’t complain. And hey, the state effectively limited their having m/any children who could take up their cause afterward.
Dear More Than Half the States Remaining – step up. Do it now.
- Women Make Movies: New Releases Include Films on Virginity, Women in Prison and Body Image
- State by State: Laws Restricting Abortion and Family Planning as of Mid-2013
- CIR Prison Investigation Opens Another Chapter on Sterilization of Women in U.S.
- Keeping Up With Anti-Abortion Attacks in the States
- Ask the FDA to Approve *All* Emergency Contraception Pills for OTC Access
And some guest blogger posts at OBOS:
- Lessons Learned: Why Midwives Should Matter to Everyone
- Egg Donation is Made to Look Easy, but Questions and Health Risks Remain
- Emergency Contraception Can Be Free, But it Takes Planning – And a Prescription
Also of interest:
- Forced Sterilizations and the Future of the Women’s Movement – Salamishah Tillet at The Nation. “the victims of forced sterilization as integral to the future of the women’s movement as the fight over choice” – because when *to* have a child, and having control over that yourself, *is* a matter of choice.
- In the New York Times: American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World. Honestly, when you figure that the majority of women who have abortions are *already* mothers, healthcare costs are something anti-abortion “pro-life” folks should really look at.
- Tampons as a feminist issue, via GenderFocus. And not just in a “confiscated by the government from women trying to exercise their civic duty” sort of way. Honestly, tampons lack sufficient mass to be good thrown weapons, Texas.
- Found via Racialicious, to read up on later: Harvard and Slavery: Seeking a Forgotten History
- At Shakesville, Calling all Pro-Choice Men. “Make as much noise, MAKE MORE NOISE, than anti-choice men!” Do it. Now.
- The Nerdy Feminist talks intersectionalism in feminist/pro-choice communities, from the vantage point of the Texas rallies.
- Because positive stereotypes are bullshit, too. Like when anyone responds to my mixed heritage with statements like, “mutts are the smartest dogs.” Dueling Stereotypes: Bad Asian Drivers, Good At Everything.
A reminder: I’m playing around with a tumblr companion to this blog. I’ll link things there that don’t quite fit here or that I don’t have time to really write up separately, like quick news things, or this cool resource from the Wisconsin Historical Society – an online collection of photos and documents from Freedom Summer. I’m still messing around with the template – I don’t like how the current one deals with link posts.
On a medical librarian note, I volunteered to moderate last Thursday’s #medlibs chat on Twitter. Here’s the archive! Contact @eagledawg if you’d like to volunteer for a specific week.
And a final reminder, to the medical librarians among the audience. I’ve started investigating and applying to positions at the assistant/associate director level in medical libraries. If you know of something I should keep an eye out for, I’d really appreciate hearing about it!
Unrelated to anything, but cool: Animal Rescue: Caring for Animals During Emergencies
And, to end things on a bit of silliness: True Blood Sims is one of my favorite tumblrs, and makes me giggle on a regular basis. If you’re a fan of True Blood *or* the Southern Vampire Mysteries books (or if you have a love/hate relationship with either…), you will like it.
While you’re at it, Birthing Beautiful Ideas is blogging a Pie a Week. Dean Winchester fans, take note.