Date: July 15, 2009
Author: Sarah Selzer
This spring and summer have been remarkable ones for books about sex, gender and reproduction — the avid women’s issues reader has been up to her ears in provocative feminist tomes.
What’s amazing about the books discussed below is not just the powerful arguments they make individually, but the way they together paint a complete picture of our culture wars at home and abroad. That broad picture reveals the ugly truth that women’s bodies remain battlegrounds for ideological struggles all over the world.
But there is something heartening in the lifting of voices both within the books and by the authors themselves. Robust, articulate, and multifaceted critique of patriarchy in its many forms storming bookshelves all at once has to be a good sign….
Front Lines: “Words of Choice” (The New Press)
Writer and RH Reality Check blogger Cindy Cooper’s “Words of Choice” weaves together humor, pathos, and politics to paint a picture of reproductive rights in America. She juxtaposes excerpts from a variety of different sources, personal and political, public and private, that all illustrate the state of reproductive freedom in our country. Some of the most notable moments come right from the Roe vs. Wade decision, congressional testimony about so-called partial birth abortion, an Onion parody, the word of a nurse injured in a clinic bombing, poetry, songs and more. The tapestry woven by these disparate excerpts is surprisingly complete, and may leave the reader or viewer with a good deal of righteous anger towards anyone who would use blanket laws to restrict something so personal and intense as reproduction. In this way, it’s reminiscent of the 2007 anthology Choice, except Cooper’s intentions are more defiantly (and refreshingly) political. “Words of Choice” as worthwhile a play to read as it must be to watch.
“Words of Choice” appears in the anthology Front Lines edited by Alexis Greene, and Shirley Lauro–all of which is worth reading. Front Lines is a group of political plays by American women, many of which got considerable media attention when they were first staged (“The Exonerated” about wrongful imprisonment and “No Child,’ which tackles education in particular). It’s exciting to see so many of these plays together because they do make a powerful point about creative women taking on a whole range of issues, from domestic violence to war to legal injustice. Any lingering stereotypes that political writing is a masculine realm are rendered ridiculous.