Afternoon Roundup: The Life and Times of Sexologist, Mystic and Madwoman Ida C. Craddock


International Violence Against Women Act moves one step closer to passage; a San Francisco birthing center is owed $20,000 by the state of California; and the utterly compelling life and times of sex activist Ida C. Craddock…what, you’ve never heard of her?

  • Good news today! The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) passed the Senate Foreign Relations Commitee today. It’s unlikely to pass both the Senate and the House before the Lame Duck session ends but it’s a critical step towards passage in the 112th Session. According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the U.N. estimates that one in three women, around the world, will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. The effort has been truly bipartisan with extensive support from Sens. John Kerry and Barbara Boxer for the Democrats, and Repubicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. 
  • Campus Progress has a fascinating piece up today on a relatively “happy accident” so to speak. Massachusetts is reporting a successful outcome from last year’s STD clinic closures due to financial constraints. The closures pushed the state to move towards service integration – in other words – merging sexual health services with primary care. STD testing is up by 12 percent one year later. There are “shortcomings” to this coordinated approach, notes writer Sara Rubin. Read more here
  • A San Francisco birthing center, Sage Femme, run by a Certified Nurse Midife, has been providing free births to their Medi-Cal clients (California’s Medicaid program); but not necessarily by choice. The center is owed $20,000 by the state government for births leading back to early this year. The Mission blog of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that when the state budget was “delayed” for months this summer, physicians continued to get paid under federal law. But the state’s community health centers didn’t. And now they’re owed a whopping $857 million. Sage Femme doens’t think they’ll see their $20,000 any time soon, though. In the meantime, owner Judi Tinkelenberg had to dip into her savings and stop paying staff. 
  • Reason Magazine online’s Damon Root blogs about a new biography of “forgotten sex activist and free speech hero” Ida C. Craddock with the magnetic (at least to me) title, “Heaven’s Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr and Madwoman.” I admit I had never heard of Craddock but after the brief glimpse into her world, this book has risen to the top of my must-read list. Because I want you all to be equally as excited, here’s a taste of the review of her new biography from the Wall Street Journal online of all places:

Daughter of a peddler of quack medicines and the virago he widowed, Ida Craddock floated through the religious and sexual reform movements of the late 19th century. Alternately mocked and censored in her brief life, she has been rescued from obscurity by Mr. Schmidt, who considers her a “distinct American visionary whose story sweeps across a vast cultural and religious terrain.”…

Craddock first irritated the bluenoses with her defense in the New York World of belly-dancing as a “pre-nuptial educator of our young people.” From the danse du ventre, as it was called, she graduated to lectures on the history of “Phallic Worship,” though her amateur studies of this subject were disregarded by the rapidly professionalizing academic world.

Craddock’s spouse was her undoing. He was . . . well, let Ida tell it: “My husband is in the world beyond the grave, and has been for many years previous to our union, which took place in October, 1892.” Soph, as she called him, had wooed her feebly when he had a pulse, but once he passed over his suit became more compelling.

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