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3/11 Dr. Samira Mehta presents, “The Diaphragm Debates: Protestants, Jews, Catholics, and a Changing Culture of Contraception”

Posted by on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 in Events.

The Program in Jewish Studies is pleased to partner with the Departments of Religious Studies & Medicine, Health and Society in welcoming Samira Mehta to Vanderbilt main campus on March 11, 2020 (Stevenson 1 room 206, 4:10pm).

Samira K. Mehta is an Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies and of Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research and teaching focus on the intersections religion, culture, and gender, including the politics of family life and reproduction in the United States. Her first book, Beyond Chrismukkah: The Christian-Jewish Blended Family in America (University of North Carolina Press, 2018) was a National Jewish book award finalist. Mehta’s current project, God Bless the Pill: Sexuality and Contraception in Tri-Faith America examines the role of Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant voices in competing moral logics of contraception, population control, and eugenics from the mid-twentieth century to the present.

Description of lecture:

“The Diaphragm Debates: Protestants, Jews, Catholics, and a Changing Culture of Contraception”

On the eve of the 1960 FDA approval of the birth control pill, debates about how American should understand contraception raged. Using fictional depictions of unmarried women seeking diaphragms and a debate about whether diaphragms should be available in public hospitals, Professor Mehta explains how society understood contraception in the late 1950s. Taken together, these depictions allow us to delve into a network of complicated issues including religious freedom; interfaith approaches to contraception; the surveillance of women, their bodies, and the sexuality; and the implications of that surveillance for women’s access to and feelings about contraception.

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