Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight Over Women’s WorkJenny Brown
Feminists generally believe that a prudish religious bloc is responsible for the fight over reproductive freedom in the U.S., but hidden behind this conventional 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. With little access to childcare, family leave, health care, 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 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.
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