Ina Park, MD, has been pushing boundaries to empower and inform others about sexual health for decades. With Strange Bedfellows, she ventures far beyond the bedroom to examine the hidden role and influence of these widely misunderstood infections and share their untold stories.
MD Park creates an engrossing, fun, and frank discussion of the science and history behind sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and calls for us to have sex safely. Through Park’s engaging writing, readers are brought into a scientific arena filled with safe-sex proponents, women’s reproductive rights advocates, and LBGTQ+ and anti-racist allies, all seeking to overturn centuries of systemic discrimination inherent in sexual and reproductive health sciences. The strength of this book lies in Park’s presentation of personal stories and the removal of the morality often tied to the topic of STDs, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as they are sometimes known...With sensitivity, she also addresses the history of diseases among people who are currently in jail or prison ... A thoughtful, informative account for readers interested in public health and sexual health as well as those with an interest in the history of medicine. Park brings the right amount of care to an often-stigmatized subject.
Strange Bedfellows is, of course, timely, not least because more people are thinking about infectious disease and contact tracing now than at perhaps any time in history. This is the year to consider more clearly and compassionately humans’ coexistence with transmissible critters ... But Strange Bedfellows is so much more than a fresh take on the biggest issues of 2021. It’s joyful and funny — concerned, for example, with the habitat loss of crabs in the face of pubic hair deforestation. Park ends most chapters with groan-worthy puns and quirkily practical guidance for parents and comedians alike. Chlamydia is funnier than herpes. Crabs, as Park proves in the pubic lice chapter, are hilarious ... And humor is essential to her goal. Compassion, science and a loving playfulness are the ultimate recipe for defusing stigma. As Park shows in the chapter on PrEP (H.I.V. pre-exposure prophylaxis, for those not in the know), stigma can reduce people’s willingness to take preventive medications or use preventive strategies; in this way, stigma literally increases risk of infection.
Park’s professional credentials are obvious and extensive, but it’s her easy, cheery writing style that carries the book. She makes the smart decision to ground virtually all of the enormous amount of information she wants to convey in the form of individual people - friends, patients, family members; this book is every bit as informative as a diagnostic overview would be, but it couldn’t be more different as a reading experience ... the book probes into every cranny of its many subjects, and Park writes about all of it with a commonizing touch that’s wonderfully inviting, even in the frequent instances where her mom-humor verges on the wince-worthy.