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.
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 Enslave.org 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.
Protactile is a new language used by the deaf blind. I’ve known blind people and I’ve known deaf people, but I’ve never met someone who is deaf and blind. And as we know from the history of Helen Keller, they not only exist, they are able to communicate. How they do that has been an evolution and will no doubt continue. In Helen Keller’s day people could communicate by spelling words in the other’s hands. Then sign language and Braille were developed, and over time deaf blind people realized they were somehow not given the same consideration as others, they had to adapt to others’ way of communicating. For example signing involves the use of the space around the person, certain signs depend on it, not much use to a blind person. The deaf blind then had to depend on interpreters and that made them less independents. In 2005 a group of deaf blind women who were then at the Deaf Blind Service Center in Seattle began to seek another way, for them a better way. They use touch. They sit with knees touching and use touching to communicate. Different gestures have come to mean certain words, usually what the word means or evokes. The word oppression can be expressed by pushing down on the arm or thigh. A large car will be translated with something that means it is heavy such as a weight upon the arm or some other gesture conveying the importance of the car. A pat on the back is a sign that the person is here. As a more formal way of communicating Protactile was developed about 15 years ago by Jelica Nuccio a deaf blind person at the center in Seattle. She is now aided by one of her co-founder Aj Granda and was later joined by John Clark and together they founded the Deafblind Interpreting National Training and Resource Center through which they teach this new language which has attracted the attention of linguists who are beginning to think of it as a language all its own. Having had a sister who was a quadriplegic and could not move at all I am familiar with the handicaps humans can conquer and still thrive. Protactile is not only a reminder it stands as a testament to that conquering and thriving.
The pandemic has accelerated something that began a long while ago, something that could be called the ethos of work. Back in the 50’s and 60’s one did what the employer wanted. Award winning movies of that era like The Man in The Grey Flannel Suit or The Apartment depict the personal sacrifices an employee had to make in order to climb the corporate ladder or even in some instances keep their job. Slowly the balance has shifted and selling out to the corporation or company that employs you in some circles has become a taboo. People want a job that fits within their ethical views, a job that has meaning. The pandemic contributed to a change in the 9 to 5 model being outdated, but it also accelerated the meaning of work. People are earning more and they are demanding more, they want better work conditions, but also they want all this within a job that fits their values and sometimes personalities. Instead of fitting themselves to the demands of the job, they expect the job to fit withing their demands and expectations. This is particularly so of millennials and the younger generation Z. There are no studies as yet that document this, yet researchers are noticing the shift. What I think is relevant is that whereas work was something one had to do and which was usually outside the main of one’s life, work now has to be more a part of oneself, has to reflect who one is. The word passion is used a lot by those describing the change, people want to feel passionate about the job they have. There are exceptions of course, compromises one willingly makes, or perhaps even people who have to accept the work there is whether or not they are passionate about it, but it does not change the trend, the movement forward that equality between employee and employer is gaining momentum.