Margaret Gullette

Recent Articles

Pause for Concern

In July 2002, the Women's Heath Initiative (WHI) of the National Institutes of Health announced an abrupt end to its study of so-called Hormone "Replacement Therapy" (used to treat symptoms associated with menopause) because the treatment posed risks of cancer and heart disease. Since this was previously considered the gold standard of menopause science, almost 11 million American women -- 46 percent of users -- stopped taking the treatment and sales plummeted. (In France, some gynecologists still prescribing hormones make patients sign waivers of responsibility.) In December 2006, a new survey from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found that the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer had dropped dramatically between August 2002 and December 2003. Scientists link this welcome news in part to the fact that fewer women were taking synthetic estrogen in that time period. Estrogen is a carcinogen. Cancer researchers and French gynecologists understand this even as...

The New Case for Marriage

Marriage is undeniably a changed institution, because wedlock is no longer obligatory on the old patriarchal terms. For women this has been a hard-won, historic victory. Divorce became easier starting with the first wave of feminism in the early 1900s, and the second wave, beginning in the 1960s, obtained for women more kinds of work, better salaries, new legal rights, heightened self-esteem, and the acceptability of sexuality outside of marriage. All this empowered some to leave bad marriages or to never marry at all. It helped inspire a lesbian liberation movement and, for a while, a polemic about the reform or abolition of marriage. Many women I knew in long-term relationships with men refused to marry; if someone mentioned "your husband," they got huffy. Romance was suspect. Breaking the old link between the horse and carriage became a cause. But now that angry polemic seems to have dissipated, like smoke from extinguished flames, very quietly. Yet heterosexual marriage, and the...