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‘Between The Bills’ Episode Six: A Pandemic, The Body, And You

“We emotionally anthropomorphize the disease, we take it personally. We’re suddenly at war and the body count rises.”

April 1, 2020

Emily Rose Thorne
Syaibatul Hamdi

elcome back to another episode of Between The Bills: For Bodies Out Of Control, a podcast brought to you by PULP Magazine and Georgia-based journalist Emily Rose Thorne.

BTB usually tells stories of reproductive rights activism from the U.S. South. But we’re in unprecedented times right now, so we’re expanding our scope today. We’re talking about COVID-19.

We won’t be staying in the South for this episode because, well — the coronavirus isn’t, either.

Get ready to dive into the psychological impact of quarantine, who will be most affected by the economic fallout, and the perception of bodies as vessels for disease rather than as fellow humans.

Our wonderful co-founder and editor, Katie Tandy, will read from her recent article, A Bodily Reckoning Amidst Coronavirus, here on PULP.

We’ll also hear from , an NYU writing professor and author of essay collection Sixteen Pills and young adult novel The Stalker Chronicles. Her most recent novel, The Not Wives, was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in bisexual fiction.

I spoke to Aubrey Wallace, clinical herbalist and Dandelion Branding owner living in between Michigan and the Netherlands, and, a writer, activist, sex worker, and writing instructor. Crane is the founder and director of Soldiers of Pole, a labor union by and for strippers based in California.

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Like it or not, for better or for worse, COVID-19 has launched the world into a pivotal moment. We’re starting to see how the healthcare system, the economic system and the political system we’ve utilized for so long have been stretched to their breaking points; we’re beginning to question whether those systems should be reinstated or revolutionized once this is over.

From a healthcare standpoint, Moore expressed frustrations with the way the federal government has responded to the crisis:

I think $1200 one time is a joke for people. I think that’s a slap in the face, and I think it speaks to the structural, institutional racism and classism and sexism of this country that that’s what we would come up with to help people through this. I think there should be massive strikes.

And Crane says that the American workforce is due for a reckoning:

I think that it’s an opportunity, actually, for strippers as a workforce to band together and come up with a plan. I think that we need a health and safety plan in order to look out for ourselves because club owners and managers have never looked out for us and they do not care. And so I think we need a list of demands and we need to refuse to work. We need to organize nationally…

We’ll also hear from Moore about how disabled bodies may be more prepared for self-isolating measures than abled bodies in the face of this public health crisis; from Wallace about the benefits of moving your body to restore a sense of calm during tumultuous times; and from Crane about the potential implications of COVID-19 on the sex work industry moving forward.

Hit that play button — let’s talk.

If you enjoy Between The Bills, make sure to give PULP a follow here on Medium and on our social media! All your love helps us keep the lights on!

And if you have ideas or feedback for the show, a story you want to share, or questions about our coverage, reach out to me at

// support the speakers //

For those of you who are in a position to help others during this time, you can start by supporting the folks who helped bring you this podcast episode.

Aubrey’s small business, Dandelion Branding, is offering free consultations for other companies who want or need to expand online operations during this time. You can connect with them here.

Carley’s published work is available for sale with links on her website, and you can follow her @fragmentedsky on Instagram. (Try to buy from an independent bookseller if possible!)

You can donate to or otherwise engage with Soldiers of Pole on their website and Instagram.

// go deeper //

Most of the sources I used to inform Episode Six were news articles. Keep in mind that the news is changing every hour of every day, so there’s a chance the current numbers and statistics may have been updated from the time this episode airs to the time you click these links.

CNN’s live coverage mapping COVID-19 cases in the US by Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley, and Henrik Pettersson

“Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should I call the doctor?” — Sarah Boseley, Hannah Devlin, and Martin Belam (The Guardian, 2020)

Exercising to relax: How does exercise reduce stress?” — Harvard Medical School, 2018

NY National Guard doubles down on COVID-19 response” — Col. Richard Goldenberg, U.S. Army, 2020

Coronavirus News: Rhode Island National Guard goes door-to-door to find New Yorkers fleeing COVID-19 hotspots” — Associated Press, ABC7NY

Record 3.3m Americans file for unemployment as the US tries to contain COVID-19” — Dominic Rushe and Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian, 2020

FAQ on Stimulus Checks, Unemployment and the Coronavirus Plan” — Tara Siegel Bernard and Rob Lieber, The New York Times, 2020

Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic” — Prison Policy Initiative

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