When House Speaker Paul Ryan urged U.S. women to have more children, and Ross Douthat requested “More babies, please,” in a New York Times column, they openly expressed what U.S. policymakers have been discussing for decades with greater discretion. Using technical language like “age structure,” “dependency ratio,” and “entitlement crisis,” establishment think tanks are raising the alarm: if U.S. women don’t get busy having more children, we’ll face an aging workforce, slack consumer demand, and a stagnant economy.
Feminists generally believe that a prudish religious bloc is responsible for the protracted fight over reproductive freedom in the U.S., and that politicians only attack abortion and birth control to appeal to those “values voters.” But hidden behind this conventional explanation is a dramatic fight over women’s reproductive labor. Continue reading “Welcome to the Baby Bust”
Women’s March, NYC, January 2019. Photo: Jenny Brown
“In 2017, the birth rate in the United States reached an all-time low. In her new book Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight Over Women’s Work (PM Press), activist and author Jenny Brown argues that declining birth rates represent a work slowdown, or strike, in the face of the poor conditions for those who do the labor of bearing and raising children.
“Like many of the classic texts of the Second Wave feminist movement, Brown’s book is her own, yet also a collective, intellectual endeavor, growing out of her organizing work with Redstockings and National Women’s Liberation, including those groups’ discussions and consciousness raising sessions.
“Jacobin’s Liza Featherstone spoke with Jenny Brown about the book at New York City’s Strand bookstore earlier this month.
Full article here: https://jacobinmag.com/2019/04/birth-strike-jenny-brown-interview
Mitch Jeserich of KPFA’s Letters and Politics show interviewed me about Birth Strike for this April 3 broadcast, now available for download and on iTunes at this link.
Sasha Lilley of KPFA’s Against the Grain interviewed me about Birth Strike for her March 27 show. Listen here.
Doug Henwood interviewed me about Birth Strike for his radio show Behind the News (March 28). We talk about the history of population panics—both about too much and too little population—and the implications of the U.S.’s record-low birth rate for feminist organizing. I’m the second interviewee in the show. Listen at the link. http://www.leftbusinessobserver.com/Radio.html#S190328
“The US birth rate is at its lowest point in three decades and sliding. The population shrinks daily even as the private sector struggles with a labor shortage and politicians promised GDP growth incompatible with a contracting workforce. Though they rarely get credit for it, parents grow the economy by raising the kids who wind up participating in it. When adults opt out of parenthood en masse — there’s a fine example of this in Japan — economies sputter and stall. So it behooves both policymakers and private sector leaders to consider why Americans in prime child-bearing years are opting out of procreation. And it turns out there are some concrete and fairly obvious answers.”
See the rest at:
Last week I was interviewed by Adam Proctor of Dead Pundits Society about Birth Strike. Listen here:
Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight over Women’s Work comes out March 1, 2019 from PM Press, and we’re planning a book tour, consciousness-raising meetings, a publicity blitz, and creative actions later in the year.
We’ve just launched a Kickstarter to fund our efforts. If you back us, you can get a copy of the book, a study guide, buttons, and more.
The Birth Strike book is one element of a broader campaign to:
- Expose the high birth rate agenda of the power structure (this explains why they’re coming after our reproductive rights!)
- Show how the U.S. economy relies on women’s unpaid work, with employers and the rich benefitting disproportionately.
- Defy the expectation that women will work a “double day”—a full day of work for pay and then eight more hours of unpaid care work and housework at home.
- Use the leverage of our spontaneous “birth strike” to win our immediate demands for paid family leave, childcare (free like the public schools), guaranteed health care, and shorter work hours for all, all of which are in place in so many other countries.
To build momentum, we’re asking for your participation—by hosting a consciousness-raising group or book group, organizing an author event, or reviewing the book. Fill out our volunteer survey, here.
To reach women around the country, we need funds. Check out the video at the Kickstarter, and thanks.