NEOTB: New Eugenics On The Block


Obligatory New Kids on the Block reference? Check. Within the article, “Cultures of Eugenics,” subRosa argues for the resurgence of eugenic thinking. Presenting a historical primer on ‘old style eugenics,’ the article contends that the term was derived from the Greek word meaning “true breed.” Moreover, eugenics is defined as “a science that deals with the improvement-as by control of human mating- of hereditary qualities of a race or breed. However, although many believe the use of eugenics has been expunged, subRosa argues that it has been re-appropriated, “this time in the guise of genetic engineering” (subRosa 4). Prior to reading this article, I wasn’t aware of the connection between eugenics and certain medical procedures that are commonly utilized. For instance, the use of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and cloning could be observed as a form of eugenic activity, in that it is “an improvement of human characteristics through scientifically controlled reproduction” (subRosa 8). Interestingly enough, subRosa brings up a valid point when they as if “our fears of eugenics’ bad history hold us back from pursing theses seemingly beneficial new developments” (subRosa 9)? Personally, although I’ve always associated the practice/term of eugenics with something negative, I do believe that its transformation into beneficial technology should be grounds for endorsement.

-Ro Weissberg


Since I wrote my short assignment on something else, but showed this video in class, I thought I would blog post about it.

The Funny or Die “Rick Santorum Aborts Presidential Campaign” cleverly jokes at his ridiculous policies and his ruined reputation.  By playing at the way in which clinics try to talk many out of the abortion procedure and have the patient go through numerous guilt-giving processes, Funny or Die takes Santorum’s anti-abortion, anti-female policies and throws them back in his face.  As the ladies point out the facts that nobody would want him as a running mate and his political career might as well be over, the falsely sympathetic tone of the video also shows the fragility of female-friendly abortion clinics.

-Elizabeth Nash


Just realized I need one more post! I just wanted to say it was a great semester and I loved being in this class. The discussions and content were fantastic. Thank you Hillary for a great class! I obviously have nothing else to write about and I’m kind of delusional right now because I’m writing my final paper for cognitive psych. I’m sure you don’t want to hear about cognitive emotional processes so I won’t bore you. Some points is better than no points right?

Thanks again Hillary!


-Sara Asher

Something other than bell hooks

Seeing as how everyone did their video on some concept from bell hooks (including me), I’m going to re-do our little assignment and NOT about hooks. Instead, I want to talk about the video for “Somebody I Used to Know” by Gotye. I saw the video and was absolutely stumped. I love figuring out the meaning of videos by artists and it’s kind of a ridiculous obsession of mine (especially with Gaga!), so of course I went online and found some interesting interpretations to add to what I had made of the video. The lyrics are pretty straightforward. Gotye and Kimbre broke up and he doesn’t understand what he did wrong, and doesn’t recognize who Kimbre has become or why she cut him out of her life. She talks about how shitty the relationship was. The bad break up in a nutshell. I didn’t really understand their bodies being colored in triangles. This is where I did a little digging. The interpretation I liked the best is one where Gotye is trying to make Kimbre fit into his mold (the color scheme of the triangles) but she just doesn’t fit and is tired of trying to. She thought the problems in the relationship we her fault, but realized it was his expectations of her. In the end Kimbre has no paint on her, and it represents the breakup and her taking over her identity as her own person and not what Gotye wants her to be. I related this to Butler’s view on torture. She says that all bodies are vulnerable and marking the body is torture. The more marks you make, the more torture you inflict and the more dominant you become. In this case, Gotye trying to fit Kimbre in his mold is represented by the paint and shapes, which for Butler would represent the torturous marking of the body. In the end, Kimbre breaks the mold and releases herself from the torture Gotye is placing on her by removing the marks. It could also be said that Gotye is torturing himself by marking her with his expectations. Butler also says that bodies are reliant on one another, and no body is singular. Gotye and Kimbre’s bodies become disconnected with her removing all the marks, and him still standing there with marks.

This is just the interpretation I liked the best and I thought it went well Butler. I hope you like it!

-Sara Asher

The Business of Being Born

The Business of Being Born was a very interesting documentary, which discussed the differences between hospital birth by doctors, and home birth usually with the help of midwives.  It covers some interesting topics about the drugs involved in hospitals, and how they go about the process of giving birth.  The movie is opinionated and favors house births over hospital births.  It claims, that hospitals approach birth as a business, and take the quickest time possible to give birth so they can ‘clear up beds.’  It also brought up some interesting points about how home births produce better birth rates.  This point was interesting because with all the professional doctors and equipment, one would think that this would provide a better birth rate.  The home birth also offers a better attention to the person giving birth and it focuses on how midwives play a part in home birth.  They are much more attentive, and are there for the birth, unlike many doctors.  Although this movie brought up some interesting points, I think it could include more scientific evidence on how home birth is/ is not healthier.  The movie was highly opinionated, so it would not cover the positive sides of hospitals, but I believe it would be interesting to also get that point of view. 



Jake Woodring

In “The Busin…



In “The Business of Being Born” Michel Odent brought up the crucial question of “What are the basic needs of a woman in labor.” The hospitals today are so concerned with the business side of delivering babies that they no longer base their actions on either the wellbeing of the mother or the baby. It is all about getting the mother in and out of the hospital bed as quickly as they can to free up space for the next paying customer. But in their rush to move the birth along they actually put the mother and baby at an even greater risk, using drugs that cause problems. But most mothers don’t know that before going in to the hospital or during prenatal care. It seems that if more women were aware of how a hospital birth worked and that the care was centered around the convenience of the doctor then they might go the midwife route. I know that after watching that video I thought more seriously about how I want to give birth. The fact that almost all other countries, if not all, use midwives should be a testament to the benefits and reliability of that practice. Midwives promote a style of birth that makes the most physical sense for the ease of both the mother and the baby. Squatting when giving birth makes it easier for the baby’s body to spin around through the pelvis and uses gravity to help push. Doctors don’t put this into practice because it is not comfortable for them, no matter if it can make the birth more comfortable for the new mother.

-Annie Grant


Even in celebrity culture, where women can be afforded some sort of agency as ‘independent women,’ there’s no denying “the reproducing woman is no longer cast as a potentially productive citizen, except insofar as she procreates: her capacity for other kinds of creative agency has become an obstacle to national reproduction” (Berlant 153). Otherwise, how could you explain the craze around celebrity mothers?

Beyonce was always marketed as a strong, autonomous woman. The gradual creep of compulsory heterosexuality, then matrimony, then maternity into her music was expected – and if it produced songs like “Countdown,” who could complain? What I didn’t quite expect was how quickly she became and remained Beyonce: Mother. Thanks to Berlant, we can easily read this transformation as a testament to the national fascination with fetal citizenship and gradual submersion of the mother beneath the celebrity fetus/baby.

Even before she was born, Blue Ivy Carter became a gross domestic product and vessel for the dominant public imagination. Following the advent of in utero photography, wherein the fetus can be imagined individually, “the baby circulates as the tabula rasa of consumer nationalism” (Berlant 166). The medico-scientific establishment has done it again! For the kids! Now, fetuses and infants have become “human in an unprecedented way” (Berlant 167). Tell me about it. The newborn Blue Ivy is already featured on a track with Jay-Z. It took Kanye 25 years to do that!

Sure, Berlant didn’t have celebrity babies in mind when she wrote “the celebrity fetus is among us now,”  but the logic of the celebrity fetus translates to superstar babies (178). The Carter family must’ve consulted Berlant’s piece when they set up a tumblr for Baby Blue pictures. Jigga remains in focus with his obscured daughter, while Queen B is transformed into the blurry foreground of Blue Ivy’s portrait. I can’t imagine a better representation of hegemonic American investment in fetus-as-citizen/celebrity.

While we’re thinking about celebrity babies, it’s hard for me to avoid the connection to our other reading this week. What better popular image of “‘positive’ eugenics” and “genetic essentialism” can we find than the celebrity baby? America’s greatest celebrities merge their sexy genes and produce superstars!

I’ll close this argument with my favorite Übermensch:

⊗ Patrick beane ⊗