Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning independent journalist JENNIFER BLOCK for a discussion of her latest book, Everything Below the Waist: Why Health Care Needs a Feminist Revolution. She will be joined in conversation by writer, performer, and activist JACYLN FRIEDMAN.
American women visit more doctors, have more surgery, and fill more prescriptions than men. In Everything Below the Waist, Jennifer Block asks: Why is the life expectancy of women today declining relative to women in other high-income countries, and even relative to the generation before them? Block examines several staples of modern women’s health care, from fertility technology to contraception to pelvic surgery to miscarriage treatment, and finds that while overdiagnosis and overtreatment persist in medicine writ large, they are particularly acute for women. One third of mothers give birth by major surgery; roughly half of women lose their uterus to hysterectomy.
Feminism turned the world upside down, yet to a large extent the doctors’ office has remained stuck in time. Block returns to the 1970s women’s health movement to understand how in today’s supposed age of empowerment, women’s bodies are still so vulnerable to medical control―particularly their sex organs, and as result, their sex lives.
In this urgent book, Block tells the stories of patients, clinicians, and reformers, uncovering history and science that could revolutionize the standard of care, and change the way women think about their health. Everything Below the Waist challenges all people to take back control of their bodies.
“Block’s journalistic standards are impeccable. From the first sentence, she draws you in, evoking every emotion, with the book often reading more like a novel than an exposé on the complicated world of women’s medicine.” ―Toni Weschler, author of Taking Charge of Your Fertility and Cycle Savvy
“Amazing. This book is full of information new to me even as a long-time activist. Block shows how what we don’t know is making us sick, even if we are healthy. A challenge to feminist orthodoxy and, in some cases, feminist naivete, at its center is a critique of the use of technological fixes to solve social injustices.” ―Loretta Ross, cofounder of SisterSong and coauthor of Reproductive Justice
“Here, at last, is the comprehensive feminist medical examination we’ve been waiting for. Jennifer Block methodically, skillfully, and compassionately dismantles standard practices that continue to do so much harm to women. Buy one copy for yourself and a second copy for a friend, sister, aunt, mother, cousin, daughter, neighbor. Block is a national treasure, and this is her most ambitious work yet.” ―Elisa Albert, author of After Birth
Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.