Weekly Reading from 16.05.2019
Healthcare. Although human life expectancy has increased dramatically, and we are able to appear more youthful, aesthetically speaking, nothing—not even diet and exercise—can prevent adecline in mobility. Technology is being developed to assist the elderly; however, many are refusing to use it, not wanting to feel old. Instead, many engineers and entrepreneurs are creating technology and services for older people in need of care, which are then masked as products for millennials. In other health news, CBD seems to be everywhere, but what does it treat, and does it really work? The New York Times traces CBD’s current uses back to its history, examining the dangers of THC by comparison, how marijuana has changed over time, and the true intentions behind its criminalisation.
– The New Yorker | The New York Times
Primates. It is surprising how much can be learned about humans by studying our closest relatives. A group of monkeys living on Cayo Santiago, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico,survived Hurricane Maria. Because scientists have been studying the population for almost a century, they understand more about these monkeys than any other storm-surviving animals. Thus, their post-storm lives prove to be extremely insightful in terms of understanding how trauma affects people. In Tanzania, scientists have observed chimpanzees using tools to bury and then dig up their food, a method which was previously thought to be uniquely human.
– The New York Times | Newsweek
Abortion. On Tuesday night, Alabama voted to outlaw abortion with no exception for rape and/or incest victims. These lawmakers, who claim to value “life”, have cut services for poor children, medical care for pregnant women, and affordable contraception for women who are trying to plan their pregnancies. Their goal is to overturn Roe v Wade, and given today’s radical, activist, rightwing supreme court, the anti-abortion campaigners may succeed. Interestingly, states like Alabama, with strict abortion laws, have the highest maternal mortality rates. Pregnant women remain in danger still: the state of Georgia passed a new law stating that women can be criminally punished if something happens to their foetus, such as a miscarriage. In short, the unexpected loss of a wanted child could result in the grieving mother going to jail.
– The Guardian | Harper’s Bazaar
Feminism. In the academic world, certain figures rise like celebrities, getting invited to the biggest conferences, publishing popular mass-market books, and reaching name recognition—but what happens when their politics shift? Nina Power, known for being a feminist and Marxist, is being called out for moving towards or, at the very least, sympathising with the alt-right. An open letter by the Anti-Reaction Research Group (ARRG) calls Power out for befriending (and making videos with) neo-reactionary and fascist figures, claiming that men are the real victims of capitalism, referencing neo-Nazi groups, and more. Following the publication of this letter, Linda Stupart, an artist and academic who studied with Power, expanded their claims, also highlighting Power’s transphobia, in an op-ed published by the White Pube.
– ARRG | The White Pube
In 2011, the surrogacy industry began booming globally. New-born babies swap hands across the globe—in California, Ukraine, Russia, Israel, Guatemala, Iran, Mexico, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Laos, and Kenya, notably. In an excerpt from her forthcoming book Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family, Sophie Lewis argues against the bourgeois (and heterosexual) model for surrogacy, connecting it to twentieth-century eugenics. She concludes by calling for what she terms “full surrogacy”, a utopian notion in which babies are cared for not by single sets of parents but by communities at large.
– Sophie Lewis