Today all politics are reproductive politics, argues esteemed feminist critic Laura Briggs. From longer work hours to the election of Donald Trump, our current political crisis is above all about reproduction. Households are where we face our economic realities as social safety nets get cut and wages decline. Briggs brilliantly outlines how politicians’ racist accounts of reproduction—stories of Black “welfare queens” and Latina “breeding machines"—were the leading wedge in the government and business disinvestment in families. With decreasing wages, rising McJobs, and no resources for family care, our households have grown ever more precarious over the past forty years in sharply race-and class-stratified ways. This crisis, argues Briggs, fuels all others—from immigration to gay marriage, anti-feminism to the rise of the Tea Party.
1. “Radical Feminism’s Misogynistic Crusade” or the Conservative Tax Revolt?
2. Welfare Reform: The Vicious Campaign to Reform 1 Percent of the Budget
3. Offshoring Reproduction
4. The Politics and Economy of Reproductive Technology and Black Infant Mortality
5. Gay Married, with Children
Epilogue: The Subprime
Laura Briggs is Professor and Chair of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of several books on gender and empire, including Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico and, most recently, Somebody’s Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational Adoption. She also serves as an editor for the University of California Press American Crossroads series.
“This book is a tour de force that highlights the failures of neoliberalism for many American families. With intensity and verve, Laura Briggs reveals the crisscrossing binds that constrain women, particularly women of color, queer women, and poor women. Readers will come away convinced by myriad examples that all politics are reproductive politics.”—Alexandra Minna Stern, author of Eugenic Nation and Telling Genes
“Move over Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter. Here comes Laura Briggs, who shows how questions of care stand at the center of all politics. Whether examining abortion, elder care, gestational surrogacy, or ‘work-family balance,’ Briggs unmasks the racialized, classed, and gendered politics of this neoliberal moment with verve, sophistication, and vision.”—Eileen Boris, coauthor, Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State
“Books that offer a comprehensive intersection of reproductive politics and nonbiological public policies are rare. Laura Briggs offers an extensive examination of how all governments use and misuse reproductive bodies, a critical and timely analysis for all reproductive justice activists and scholars.”—Loretta Ross, coauthor of Reproductive Justice: An Introduction
“In the United States, we talk narrowly around reproduction. This bold book instead pushes us to connect it to a wide range of political issues. Understanding incisively how neoliberalism, culture wars, and race have transformed reproduction, Briggs shows us how we can use reproductive justice seriously to influence policy.”—Dána-Ain Davis, coauthor of Battered Black Women and Welfare Reform
“Laura Briggs is one of our most important thinkers and writers on the subject of reproductive politics. The arena she inscribes is rich, complex, and profoundly consequential, affecting the lives of everybody. In this book, as in her previous work, Briggs offers us startlingly new ways of thinking about fundamental matters, while relying on a logic that makes her arguments feel utterly clear and correct. We are very proud to have How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics in the Reproductive Justice series.”—Rickie Solinger, Senior Editor, Reproductive Justice book series, and coauthor of Reproductive Justice: An Introduction