National Women’s Liberation, in cooperation with Redstockings, is proud announce the publication of Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight over Women’s Work.
Author Jenny Brown is coming to Gainesville for two official events, on Friday, April 26, there will be a celebration/book launch party at the Civic Media Center from 7:30 to 9:30pm, and then at Third House Books on Friday, May 3, for a talk and signing. Books will be available at both events.
It is conventionally believed that a prudish religious bloc is responsible for the protracted fight over reproductive freedom in the U.S. and that politicians only attack abortion and birth control to appeal to those “values voters.”
But hidden behind this explanation is a dramatic fight over women’s reproductive labor. On one side, elite policymakers want an expanding workforce reared with a minimum of employer spending and a maximum of unpaid women’s work. On the other side, women are refusing to produce children at levels desired by economic planners. By some measures our birth rate is the lowest it has ever been.
With little access to childcare, family leave, healthcare, and with insufficient male participation, U.S. women are conducting a spontaneous birth strike.
In other countries, panic over low birth rates has led governments to underwrite childbearing and childrearing with generous universal programs, but in the U.S., women have not yet realized the potential of our bargaining position. When we do, it will lead to new strategies for winning full access to abortion and birth control, and for improving the difficult working conditions U.S. parents now face when raising children.
There is wide praise for this book:
“Jenny Brown compellingly explains the low U.S. birth rate: those primarily responsible for the labor of bearing and raising children (women) are responding as one should to lousy working conditions — by going on strike! Brown’s bold and brilliant book ventures into terrain that left and feminist thinkers have avoided for far too long. A breathtakingly accessible analysis, supported by riveting and intimate testimonials, it’s also an inspiring call to action.”
—Liza Featherstone, The Nation
“Birth Strike is a well-researched and wide-ranging analysis of how the public responsibilities of pregnancy and parenting have been privatized to benefit a capitalist for-profit system designed to minimize labor costs to produce wealth for the few. Offers fresh insight into how women’s biological power may be harnessed to resist reproductive oppression.”
—Loretta J. Ross, author of Reproductive Justice: An Introduction and editor of Radical Reproductive Justice
“An astute analysis of power relations not only in the sphere of reproduction but also in the worlds of work, immigration, and government policy as they bear on women’s ability to control their bodies. She illuminates the historical context of the writings of Marx and Malthus, the crusades of Comstock, and recurring elite pleas for women to supply more workers and soldiers. Brown lays bare why U.S. women who want to be mothers, and those who don’t, have it far worse here than in Europe. Then she tells us how to change that.”
—Jane Slaughter, Labor Notes
“This book lays bare how U.S. politics around race and immigration are closely connected to the struggle for reproductive freedom, both in the past and today. You will never think about reproductive rights in the same way again.”
—Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be an Antiracist.
“Jenny Brown reveals to us how and why reactionary ruling interests in the United States support heavy birth rates and oppose both abortion and birth control. Also given is a good report of various other countries and their prevailing interests. In all, an excellent read!”
—Michael Parenti, author of The Culture Struggle, Democracy for the Few, and Against Empire
“Birth Strike is an important contribution to the subject of women and our reproductive rights. Unlike much of the literature on contraception and abortion, Jenny Brown situates her analysis within the larger economic context of both labor and human rights.”
—Ti-Grace Atkinson, author of Amazon Odyssey and founder of The Feminists
“Jenny Brown’s book Birth Strike is a game changer and is equal in significance to Betty’s Friedan’s Feminine Mystique in the 1960s, which sparked a movement.”
—Carol Downer, Feminist Women’s Health Centers founder and author of A Woman’s Book of Choices
“Why are we still struggling for childcare and paid leave in the U.S.? Basic rights to birth control and abortion? In Birth Strike, Jenny Brown exposes the economic interests at play and shows the mighty power of women to change the game.”
—Lise Vogel, author of Marxism and the Oppression of Women
Jenny Brown is a National Women’s Liberation organizer and former editor of Labor Notes. She was a leader in the grassroots campaign to have “morning-after pill” contraception available over-the-counter in the U.S. and was a plaintiff in the winning lawsuit. In addition to Labor Notes, her work has appeared in Jacobin, Huffington Post, and Alternet, and she is coauthor of the Redstockings book Women’s Liberation and National Health Care: Confronting the Myth of America. She is the author of Without Apology: The Abortion Struggle Now.
And many of you know she has deep Gainesville roots; she was a cofounder and editor of the Gainesville Iguana (1986-2009), she’s a UF grad, and for decades a mainstay in Gainesville feminist and labor organizing. D