Don’t Fence Me In: Reproductive Freedom and Women Workers

For centuries under common law, a daughter or a wife was the property of the family father or husband or, upon his death, the closest relative with a penis. Whatever was theirs was his, but most importantly the family patriarch oversaw her most valuable asset: her womb. In earliest medical thought, a womb was fertile ground in need of guarding and fences to make property rights clearer, and she to be plowed and planted with seed, quite literally semen.

We thought such laws and cultural metaphors were behind us. But now the cowboys of Texas have put a bounty on women’s wombs. The stakes are women’s civil rights as citizens, surely, but also financial ones.

The U.S. Is in Urgent Need of Childcare Solutions. Build Back Better Would Be a Game-Changer

The U.S. has not prioritized childcare. Even before the pandemic, many families could not find childcare when and where they needed it. More than half of all families lived in childcare deserts, and those who didn’t faced exorbitant prices. That’s gotten even worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who can afford childcare, extremely high prices take a toll—many families pay more than mortgage payments or rent for care. It’s unacceptable.

The Build Back Better Act will be a game-changer for parents across the nation, lowering prices and increasing the supply of high-quality care at the same time.

Dr. Mom: Female Physicians Need Support in Their Roles

It’s clear the medical profession needs women. Patient mortality and hospital readmission rates decrease when women physicians care for them, compared to their male counterparts.

But women in medicine need support, especially as they embark on parenting. Among physician parents, women are more likely to be responsible for household tasks and schooling or childcare compared to men during the pandemic. The women also experienced greater depressive and anxiety symptoms.

Front and Center: Two Years After Receiving Guaranteed Income, This Family Is Still Feeling the Benefits

Front and Center highlights the success of Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which this year will give $1,000 per month for 12 months to 100 families headed by Black women living in federally subsidized housing.

“I was in the very first round of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which started three years ago. So it’s been about two years since I stopped getting the guaranteed income payments, but the program allowed me to do so much that’s still benefiting me now. I was able to move out of subsidized housing and into my own place, I was able to get a more reliable car, I did a little traveling with my kids—it allowed me to be able to provide better for them.”

In an Era of Unrealistic Expectations on Moms, Product Safety Is a Feminist Issue

In the midst of the holiday season, the pressure on parents to select the perfect gift for every member of their family can feel overwhelming. What’s harder is when companies have developed a tendency of blaming accidents of shocking children’s deaths on parents, even if their unsafe products are the real culprits.

This is a feminist issue. The more the government encourages industry self-monitoring and consumer educational campaigns over regulation and federal oversight, the more the management of risk is transferred to individual families, and the gendered labor of mothers in particular.

Build Back Better Is in Peril. Low-income Families Can’t Afford To Lose It

As families hope Democratic leadership will find a different path to pass Build Back Better policies like childcare or paid leave, another revolutionary policy is just beginning to enter mainstream awareness: guaranteed income.

Guaranteed income involves regular payments directed to specific marginalized groups, as a way to address economic inequities caused by systemic racism and sexism. Economic justice organizations like the Magnolia Mother’s Trust argue that a federal guaranteed income program would not just help low-income families pay their bills, but also reduce financial stress and set their families up for long-term success. 

Reads for the Rest of Us: 2021 Best of the Rest

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

You’ve read the other “Best of” lists—now read the other one. You know, for the rest of us. Each year, I review my monthly Reads for the Rest of Us lists and choose my favorite books of the year. It was such a wonderful challenge to review all the lists and choose my top 50, but here they are.