"A devastating read: From mammograms to hysterectomies to miscarriages to ob-gyn’s overreliance on caesarean sections, it’s a book that weighs the real costs of people not receiving the care they deserve." Bitch Media
"Thought-provoking, empowering information that all women should have." Library Journal (Starred)
"A must-read book for any aspiring medical professional." Bustle
"With extensive historical research and personal interviews, Block...demonstrates that women are more vulnerable to overtesting, overdiagnosing, overtreatment, and mistreatment than men...packed with important information, highly recommended for health professionals, classes in women's studies, and any woman who seeks guidance in these issues." Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
"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
"Nearly fifty years ago, the women’s health movement transformed the doctor/patient relationship and empowered women to listen to and believe in their bodies. In Everything Below the Waist, Jennifer Block suggests that perhaps the movement was not quite as transformative as we’d like it to have been. This is a powerful and important book that forces us to face the limitations of medical technology to truly liberate women. It’s also a great read; I couldn’t put it down. It should be required reading of anyone interested in the future of women’s health." Wendy Kline, Professor, Dema G. Seelye Chair in the History of Medicine Department of History, Purdue University
"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
"Attention women: your 'wellness' visits may be unnecessary and may even lead to harm. That's the disturbing fact at the center of Jennifer Block's important expose of a health-care system that is most profoundly failing female patients. Every woman needs to read this book." Pagan Kennedy, New York Times contributing writer and author of Inventology
"This book is brilliant, controversial, exhaustive, funny, and necessary... I cannot wait to buy it for friends wondering how to live feminist lives in the contemporary age." Renée Ann Cramer, Professor of Law, Politics, and Society, Drake University and author of Pregnant with the Stars
A feminist journalist's well-documented broadside against a medical system that is still shaped by its patriarchal origins.
With extensive historical research and personal interviews, Block (Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care, 2007), a former editor at Ms. and editor of the revised Our Bodies, Our Selves, demonstrates that women are more vulnerable to overtesting, overdiagnosing, overtreatment, and mistreatment than men. The three horror stories that open her introduction give a taste of what is to come. "You may already be familiar," she writes, "with a version of this story: Woman needs medical care. Woman is ignored. Woman has to fight." The personal stories are stirring, even anger-arousing, but the author also offers a solid, well-researched history of mistreatment in the medical field as well as countless statistics and a wealth of expert testimony that lend credibility to her story. Calling the present cesarean rate a national health crisis, Block also looks at hysterectomies, annual pelvic exams, Pap tests, and mammograms. She delves into fertility interventions, the close ties between the pharmaceutical industry and the women's health advocacy community, and the growth of underground abortions. This book is a call for "reproductive justice," which Block explains means not just a right to contraception and abortion, but to fertility and sexuality—an area where she faults mainstream organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women for falling short. After pointing out the many ways in which the health care system is failing women, the author proposes that the solution lies in a new feminist health movement, less focused, as it once was, on self-exam. According to Block, we must take a broader, collaborative view, acknowledging that the issues are ideological and cultural rather than just political or economic.
Despite the catchy title, this is a dense and serious work packed with important information, highly recommended for health professionals, classes in women's studies, and any woman who seeks guidance in these issues.
Even though American women visit physicians more frequently and fill more prescriptions than men, their life expectancy rates are declining compared to women in other developed countries. Health journalist Block (Pushed) finds that modern medical interventions play a vital role in this development. Contraception, treatment for infertility, unnecessary Cesarean sections and hysterectomies, and ineffective treatment of pelvic disorders are major factors. Until recently, female subjects were not used in medical research, so it's not surprising that physicians do not completely understand hormonal cycles and the delicate interplay involved in them. That mainstream feminist movements and related organizations such as Planned Parenthood embrace the use of contraceptives with known harmful side effects because they offer women choices is also a problem. They ignore effective older birth control methods and therapies for pelvic pain such as massage and physical therapy because they require more time and effort. Block advocates for access to information about all forms of treatment so that women can make fully informed decisions and take control of their health care. VERDICT Thought-provoking, empowering information that all women should have; essential for public and consumer health libraries.—Barbara Bibel, formerly Oakland P.L.