How can HIV-positive women be good mothers?

Sasheenie Moodley // We are told that a “good mother” is the trope of a mother who is loving and nurturing (Chess, 1982; Mercer, 1985). She prioritises and protects her infant. This mother has a good relationship with her “happy” infant (Benedek, 1959). It is a good mother’s job to understand her child’s behaviour and…

Parenting in Public, from Passivity to Peace

Mira Assaf Kafantaris and Alicia Andrzejewski Introduction Is the affective experience of public parenting a health concern, a concern for the medical humanities? Certainly, the constant surveillance of parents, mothers in particular, is born out of care and concern for the well-being of children. This surveillance and the interventions/invasions it inspires, however, result in a…

Mothers, Labor, and Conduct: Then and Now

Alicia Andrzejewski // I am a mother. I am angry and exhausted. Thinking through anger and exhaustion are crucial to medical humanities as a full and robust field. According to early modern conduct books, Robert Cleaver (1598), in particular, I must “stand in a reverent awe” of my husband, even if I have cause for anger:…

Mothers, Memoir, and Medicine

Livia Arndal Woods // It’s Mother’s Day, holiday of breakfast-in-bed and/or reflection on the ways our society fails families. This Mother’s Day, I want to add a thought about how memoirs of motherhood cultivate an insistent thread of anxiety about medicine.

Demonizing Mothers: Psychodramas, Horror Movies, and Hermeneutics of Suspicion

Lauren A. Mitchell//  Fair warning: this post contains some spoilers for Ari Aster’s Hereditary, but you should read it anyway.  Early in Ari Aster’s 2018 Hereditary, family matriarch and film anti-heroine Annie Leigh attends a grief support meeting after the death of her mother. We learn that Annie and her mother, Ellen, had at best a conflicted…

FTM: Arriving, No Arrivals

FTM is an internet acronym that people use to identify themselves as someone who has transitioned, or is transitioning, from female to male, as well as someone who has transitioned, or is transitioning, into a first-time mom. FTM is an identity but it is also a hashtag: a sorting tool that creates a digital community, a grouping mechanism. When the #FemaleToMale and #FirstTimeMom tags collide, an accidental abbreviation of experience is turned into a digital community, and the hashtag becomes an intersection. The personal narratives we articulate below are meant to explore this intersection.

An Elegy to Breastfeeding, from Titus Andronicus to Now

Alicia Andrzejewski // I nurse my daughter for the last time. She is fifteen months old. I hear her sharp cry at 6:10, and, as my partner checks his phone, I rush to grab a glass of water and walk through our five-foot hallway to her. She stands in her crib, expectant, and offers her…