Everything Below the Waist by Jennifer BlockEverything Below the Waist: Why Health Care Needs a Feminist Revolution by Jennifer Block
Narrator: Suehyla El-Attar
Published by Macmillan Audio on July 16, 2019
Source: Purchased
Genres: Non-fiction, Health
Length: 12 hrs 56 mins
Format: Audiobook
Purchase at Bookshop.org or Purchase at Amazon
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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.

Everything Below the Waist by Jennifer Block was eye-opening. In the last few years, I’ve gone out of my way to see women doctors, they make me more comfortable and I feel like they listen better, but to be honest, I hadn’t really thought beyond that. Block’s focus is on women’s reproductive health specifically, but she does talk about how doctors and the medical establishment treat women both now and historically.

Female reproductive health covers a range of sub-topics, and Block laid out the facts thoroughly and specifically, citing studies from numerous medical journals. Covered here is routine gynecologic care, hormonal birth control, infertility treatment, abortion, pregnancy, and childbirth. Most women will find something in these pages they can relate to. Maybe in a good way, a birth that went well or having a skilled surgeon. Maybe it’s being bullied by a doctor or given unnecessary tests. Maybe it’s not being given all the information about whatever the pharmaceutical companies are pushing now. Maybe it’s much worse. Maybe it’s being unable to get an IUD removed because you’re on Medicaid. Maybe it’s being denied treatment at a hospital because you didn’t want a C-section.

Block wants women to be in charge of women’s health. She advocates for midwives and doulas. She wants women to be given all the information they need to make choices and for doctors to respect those choices. She provides a lot of information about various products and procedures, but even more importantly she reminds us that we need to be our own advocates and we may need to ask other women to support us in our choices, or support them in theirs.

Healthcare could do better by women. But it’s up to us to be informed.

I suggested to Amber that this is a good read. I would actually recommend it to most women. You may not agree with everything she believes, but the stories she tells and the lines she draws between companies and organizations and products are fascinating and scary.

This counts as 3 pts in the COYER Treasure Hunt  (book with a ridiculously long (at least 50 characters, including spaces) title—71 characters).

About Jennifer Block

Jennifer Block is an independent journalist who writes frequently about health, gender, and conflict of interest in medicine. Her articles and commentary have appeared in The Washington Post Magazine, Newsweek, The Cut, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Pacific Standard, The Baffler, and many other outlets.

A reporter with Type Investigations (formerly The Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute), Jennifer won several awards for her investigative reporting on the permanent contraceptive implant Essure, which has since been discontinued. For early chapters of Everything Below the Waist, she won a Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant.

Her first book, Pushed, led a wave of attention to the national crisis in maternity care and was named a “Best Book of 2007” by Kirkus Reviews and a “Best Consumer Health Book” by Library Journal.

Jennifer began her journalism career as an intern and then editor at Ms. magazine. She was also a senior editor at the sustainable lifestyle magazine Plenty, and an editor on the 2005 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Since 2012 she has served as a mentor-editor and senior facilitator with The OpEd Project.

She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her son.


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