Vasectomy Uptick

There’s an uptick in vasectomies, not only in the number of procedures being done but also in its trending in Google searches. Alexander Pastuszak, assistant professor in the division of urology surgery at the university of Utah says that the most common reason for having a vasectomy used to be “my wife asked me to.” But since the US Supreme Court Dobbs decision it is more along the line of men taking ownership of their reproductive options. Speaking of the men seeking vasectomies, Pastuszak adds, “There’s a sense that, you know, we can’t just have sex  anymore on our terms.” The uptick, while it may have slowed some since the decision was leaked, is being felt in red states like Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and definitely in  states like Texas and Florida. While the political climate in the US does play a role, the whole idea of men taking responsibility for reproduction is being felt in other countries as well, the UK and Australia have shown an increase. In the US added to the Dobbs decision is the fear that contraceptive methods may be declared illegal, and that fear has spurred interest in vasectomies. To many in Academia, the issue of men taking responsibility for their part in the abortion debate is not enough. What we need to do they propose is a change in our thinking, a change recognizing that reproduction is a shared responsibility. How permanent is this uptick is not known or agreed upon, but what is clear is that there is the beginning of a trend recognizing that women have born the burden for reproductive issues and that men must now also  share in it.

Indigenous Slavery Website

When we think about slavery we associate it with African Americans, but that’s an incomplete story. Indigenous populations were held as slaves as well.  The site  “Native Bound-Unbound: Archive of Indigenous Americans Enslaved” will rectify the omission. Through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation a website will be built to digitize and piece together the information behind the lives of the millions of indigenous people whose lives were affected by slavery.  The finished product will be like a database which has assembled information about the lives of enslaved African Americans and their descendants.  The site will contain any document available, baptismal records, letters, oral histories, so that Native Americans can search for any  family members or  descendants who were enslaved. 

 From the 16th century at the time of Columbus to the end of the 19th century, the enslavement of Native Americans coexisted along that of African Americans, not only in the United States but in the whole hemisphere. Apache members were enslaved in the American Southwest and sold to work mines in Mexico. The Reche Mapuche people were enslaved in Chile and sold to work in Peru.  Mormon settlers in Utah purchased Native Americans and converted them. As it was for African Americans, those enslaved were striped of their tribal identities and many descendants do not know the link to their heritage.

It may be a painful story but its being recognized, aired and made available for future generations is something for us all to embrace.

Period Poverty

Scotland has become the first country in the world to offer tampons and pads for free, for anyone, more accurately for anyone who needs them. Seen on a global scale it’s bigger news than it may at first appear.  That is because of what GZERO Media calls period poverty, the lack of being able to afford feminine hygiene products like tampons, pads or even soap. It’s a problem in any number of countries,  where so often girls are not able to go to school when they  are having their periods, and sometimes buying food takes precedence over buying feminine hygiene products. That means that women and girls have to find unhygienic substitutes. In India for example,  poor women and girls use dirty rags, leaves, newspaper, sand and even ashes, anything to absorb the menstrual blood. The lack of sanitation often causes infections and 70% of reproductive diseases in India stem from poor menstrual hygiene. The problem of cost is compounded by people in governments, usually men, who hold on to taboos about women’s periods. In several societies menstruating women are considered unclean, making it difficult for them to even dry their rags openly in the sun, which would be a disinfectant. Even in the US, the UK and Australia,  laws haven’t been able to pass partly because feminine hygiene products are considered non-essentials. Of course that is not only erroneous, it overlooks the fact these products are not cheap.  All of this highlight Scotland as indeed a pioneer. New Zealand  and Kenya offer free products but only in public schools. So hail Scotland for making these products free on a national scale. May they be an example to many others.

LGBT+ Museums

Queer Britain is a new museum in London, as its name lets us know it is a museum about LGBT+. We have museums dedicated to many issues and causes, but this is a first in the UK. Since 1985 the  Schwules Museum in Berlin has  existed and both it and Queer Britain predate the US where the first American LGBT+  Museum will open in New York in 2026. The 50 years it took for Queer Britain to become a reality, since a  march in 1972,  underline the accomplishment of being able to highlight a community which has been marginalized, and one which is still not recognized in at least 70 countries. One exhibit in Queer Britain for example is the door of the writer’s  Oscar Wilde’s cell, a reminder of his having gone to prison for what was called gross indecency, a sentence that destroyed his reputation and maybe his health. He died 2 years after being freed at the age of 46, and for many he has become a symbol of the injustice the LGBT+ community has been subjected to. But this is also a time when in countries like the US rights such as marriage equality which were fought for for generations may well be in jeopardy. And our current discussions reflect questions these museums must address. Are they to speak to the general public, or address their own communities? It’s a line which each addresses in its own way. Queer Britain as it traces the arc of the LGBT+ history is aimed at the larger community, but then neither does it want to forget  the issues affecting LBGT+ people in the present. In Berlin the focus is almost the inverse.

As they work through those issues, the fact remains that those museums exist, and regardless of what the public discourse ends up being, it’s hard to imagine the momentum will cease.