In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, we’ve put together a list of six books about women’s rights and reproduction that are necessary reading.
1. This Common Secret by Susan Wicklund
Now retired, Susan Wicklund was an abortion doctor practicing in rural areas in the Rocky Mountains. Her memoir talks about her experiences, and the essential right to choose.
A brave account of the social and political forces that threaten a woman's right to choose, this emotionally affecting memoir from a doctor on the front lines of the abortion debate reveals what's really at stake in the Supreme Court
In America the reproductive justice debate is reaching a new pitch, with the Supreme Court weighted against women's choice and state legislatures passing bills to essentially outlaw the practice of abortion. With This Common Secret, Dr. Susan Wicklund chronicles her twenty-year career in the vanguard of the abortion war. Growing up in working-class rural Wisconsin, Susan made the painful decision to have an abortion at a young age. It was not until she became a doctor that she realized how many women shared her ordeal of an unwanted pregnancy. . . and how hidden this common experience remains.
Now, in this raw and riveting true story, Susan and the patients she's treated share the complex, anguished, and empowering emotions that drove their own choices. Hers is a calling that means sleeping on planes and commuting between clinics in different states -- and that requires her to wear a bulletproof vest and to carry a .38 caliber revolver. This Common Secret reveals the truth about the reproductive health clinics that anti-abortion activists mischaracterize as damaging and unsafe. This intimate memoir explains how social stigma and restrictive legislation can isolate women who are facing difficult personal choices -- and how we as a nation can, and must, support them.
2. Belabored by Lyz Lenz
Journalist Lyz Lenz has written a poignant, funny, and enraging book about the experiences of pregnant people, and how we need to trust women.
In Belabored, Lyz Lenz will "make you cry in one paragraph and snort-laugh in the next" (Chloe Angyal, contributing editor at MarieClaire.com).
Written with a blend of wit, snark, and raw intimacy, Belabored is an impassioned and irreverent defense of the autonomy, rights, and dignity of pregnant people. Lenz shows how religious, historical, and cultural myths about pregnancy have warped the way we treat pregnant people: when our representatives enact laws criminalizing abortion and miscarriage, when doctors prioritize the health of the fetus over the life of the pregnant patient in front of them, when baristas refuse to serve visibly pregnant women caffeine. She also reflects on her own experiences of carrying her two children and seeing how the sacrifices demanded during pregnancy carry over seamlessly into the cult of motherhood, where women are expected to play the narrowly defined roles of "wife" and "mother" rather than be themselves.
Belabored is an urgent call for us to trust women and let them choose what happens to their own bodies, from a writer who "is on a roll" (Bitch Magazine).
3. The Trouble With White Women by Kyla Schuller
Here’s looking at you, Amy Coney Barrett. This is a historical look at self-serving white feminists, and the Black, Indigenous, Latina, poor, queer, and trans women pushing back against them.
Women including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger, and Sheryl Sandberg are commonly celebrated as leaders of feminism. Yet they have fought for the few, not the many. As award-winning scholar Kyla Schuller argues, their white feminist politics dispossess the most marginalized to liberate themselves.
In The Trouble with White Women, Schuller brings to life the two-hundred-year counter history of Black, Indigenous, Latina, poor, queer, and trans women pushing back against white feminists and uniting to dismantle systemic injustice. These feminist heroes such as Frances Harper, Harriet Jacobs, and Pauli Murray have created an anti-racist feminism for all. But we don’t speak their names and we don’t know their legacies. Unaware of these intersectional leaders, feminists have been led down the same dead-end alleys generation after generation, often working within the structures of racism, capitalism, homophobia, and transphobia rather than against them.
Building a more just feminist politics for today requires a reawakening, a return to the movement’s genuine vanguards and visionaries. Their compelling stories, campaigns, and conflicts reveal the true potential of feminist liberation. An Entropy Magazine Best Nonfiction Book of 2020-2021,The Trouble with White Women gives feminists today the tools to fight for the flourishing of all.
4. No Choice by Becca Andrews
Coming this October, Becca Andrews’ book is a look at the dismantling of Roe v. Wade and what comes next. Preorder your copy today.
An in-depth look at the legacy of Roe v. Wade, and on-the-ground reporting from the front lines of the battle to protect the right to choose
The pieces started to fall In 2019 when a wave of anti-abortion laws went into effect. Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, while Missouri banned the procedure at eight weeks. Alabama banned all abortions. The die was cast. And on June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and, abortion immediately became illegal in 22 states.
No Choice begins by shining a light on the eerie ways in which life before Roe will be mirrored in life after. The wealthy and privileged will still have access, low-income people will suffer disproportionately, and pregnancy will be heavily policed. Then, Andrews takes us to the states and communities that have been hardest-hit by the erosion of abortion rights in this country, and tells the stories of those who are most at risk from this devastating reversal of settled law. There is a glimmer of faint hope, though.
As the battle moves to state legislatures around the country, the book profiles the people who are doing groundbreaking, inspiring work to ensure safe, legal access to this fundamental part of health care.
5. The H-Spot by Jill Filipovic
Jill Filipovic makes the case for putting women’s happiness at the center of the feminist movement– a shift in focus that would impact everything from from reproductive rights to equal pay to welfare spending.
What do women want? The same thing men were promised in the Declaration of Independence: happiness, or at least the freedom to pursue it.
For women, though, pursuing happiness is a complicated endeavor, and if you head out into America and talk to women one-on-one, as Jill Filipovic has done, you'll see that happiness is indelibly shaped by the constraints of gender, the expectations of feminine sacrifice, and the myriad ways that womanhood itself differs along lines of race, class, location, and identity.
In The H-Spot, Filipovic argues that the main obstacle standing in-between women and happiness is a rigged system. In this world of unfinished feminism, men have long been able to "have it all" because of free female labor, while the bar of achievement for women has only gotten higher. Never before have women at every economic level had to work so much (whether it's to be an accomplished white-collar employee or just make ends meet). Never before have the standards of feminine perfection been so high. And never before have the requirements for being a "good mother" been so extreme. If our laws and policies made women's happiness and fulfillment a goal in and of itself, Filipovic contends, many of our country's most contentious political issues -- from reproductive rights to equal pay to welfare spending -- would swiftly be resolved.
Filipovic argues that it is more important than ever to prioritize women's happiness-and that doing so will make men's lives better, too. Here, she provides an outline for a feminist movement we all need and a blueprint for how policy, laws, and society can deliver on the promise of the pursuit of happiness for all.
6. We Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler
The co-founder of Bitch Media explores the commodification of feminism, and how that impacts issues from abortion to labor to sex.
Feminism has hit the big time. Once a dirty word brushed away with a grimace, "feminist" has been rebranded as a shiny label sported by movie and pop stars, fashion designers, and multi-hyphenate powerhouses like Beyoncé It drives advertising and marketing campaigns for everything from wireless plans to underwear to perfume, presenting what's long been a movement for social justice as just another consumer choice in a vast market. Individual self-actualization is the goal, shopping more often than not the means, and celebrities the mouthpieces.
But what does it mean when social change becomes a brand identity? Feminism's splashy arrival at the center of today's media and pop-culture marketplace, after all, hasn't offered solutions to the movement's unfinished business. Planned Parenthood is under sustained attack, women are still paid 77 percent -- or less -- of the man's dollar, and vicious attacks on women, both on- and offline, are utterly routine.
Andi Zeisler, a founding editor of Bitch Media, draws on more than twenty years' experience interpreting popular culture in this biting history of how feminism has been co-opted, watered down, and turned into a gyratory media trend. Surveying movies, television, advertising, fashion, and more, Zeisler reveals a media landscape brimming with the language of empowerment, but offering little in the way of transformational change. Witty, fearless, and unflinching, We Were Feminists Once is the story of how we let this happen, and how we can amplify feminism's real purpose and power.