52 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the facts, not opinions to support Reproductive Health
I first read about this book at RHRealityCHeck.org in an interview of Michelle Goldberg by Mandy Van Deven. I ordered it immediately and had to wait for it to arrive on April 4. This book is landing in our march toward reproductive intelligence, liberty and health at precisely the right moment. While social justice is unfolding; the backlash is mounting, gasping its...
Published on April 5, 2009 by Zoe Ann Nicholson
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Reactionary Malthusian Propaganda
This is a work of clunky and malicious propaganda. Anecdotes and misinformation are slapped together in a crass, manipulative pr style lamenting that Hitler and Sanjay Gandhi's excesses discredited eugenics. Under the flimsy veil of feminist concern for reproductive freedom, Goldberg launches a creepy white supremacist revival of eugenics mythology, bemoaning that there...
Published 10 months ago by Molly
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52 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the facts, not opinions to support Reproductive Health,
I first read about this book at RHRealityCHeck.org in an interview of Michelle Goldberg by Mandy Van Deven. I ordered it immediately and had to wait for it to arrive on April 4. This book is landing in our march toward reproductive intelligence, liberty and health at precisely the right moment. While social justice is unfolding; the backlash is mounting, gasping its last breaths, this book is rich with vision and understanding.
American women need to understand the reach of their influence, their dollars and their personal religion. There are places in the world where pregnancy and childbirth can be punishment, torture and deadly, US policies are contributing through policies and funding certain programs, unfunding others, gag orders and relinquishing responsibility to religious organizations.
Michelle explains all of this and more, making it clear how decisions in Washington DC or a neighborhood clinic end up practiced in Africa or India with no understanding of the cultural consequences.
The Means of Reproduction is brilliant, responsible and approachable. I highly recommend it. Finally a book that makes it clear that American women, with all our freedom, need to commit to provide women world-wide with comprehensive birth control information and methods.
38 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read on radical right and reproduction,
Just read Nick Kristoff's op-ed column in the Sunday Times on the need for more funding for international family planning assistance. The Means of Reproduction is critical to a modern understanding of why something as simple and noncontroversial as family planning has been stalled for the last decade by the US religious right and the Vatican. Solid data, great stories and good analysis.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting & Important,
I highly recommend this book! The book is obviously meticulously researched and there is a lot of factual information, but it is never boring. It is very well written - the author addresses broad, complex issues and provides insightful analysis, but also brings in personal stories and descriptions of characters.
If you are interested in human rights, economic development, international politics or women's issues you will get a lot out of it.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too important to be ignored,
In this powerful book, Goldberg deftly weaves the accounts of individual women against the backdrop of nations, cultures, international law, and US policy as she illustrates the impact of women's rights in general, and reproductive rights in particular, on not only the women themselves, but on our global society. She argues convincingly that providing all women with reproductive freedom--including access to reliable birth control, safe abortion, and educational opportunities that enhance their economic potential and their ability to self-advocate--can be a powerful means for lifting both women and their families out of poverty. This book made me alternately angry and hopeful by outlining the successes and failures of numerous countries, including the United States, in ensuring that women's potential is achieved. Goldberg shows us what has worked, what has failed, what the threats are to continued progress, what the potential outcomes are if those threats are allowed to prevail, and what rewards we can anticipate if all countries would move forward in recognizing the valuable contributions and the basic human rights of women.
30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart and engaging,
Michelle Goldberg brings passion and intelligence to an important global issue--women's health and rights. Her ability to combine political analysis with compelling storytelling makes this an interesting and informative read.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Piece of Work,
Although I, like many other readers, I imagine, picked up this book expecting to hear a good argument in favor of reproductive rights, it is much, much, much more than that. This is not a book about abortion, although it includes abortion as a crucial topic. But rather, this is a book with a simple but somewhat revolutionary premise: that the solution to our most pressing concerns, both individual and societal, is the liberation of women around the world.
Michelle Goldberg makes her case very well- the book is fastidiously annotated and full of relevant statistics, well-researched history, and she strikes the perfect balance between listing the data, extrapolating its meaning, and illustrating it on the personal level with the stories of real-life men and women. Her writing is highly readable; while clearly academically rigorous, it is never too dry, too academic, bogged down in statistics or boring, nor is it overly familiar or reductionist. Or, in plainer words- I loved reading every minute of it, and there were plenty of late nights, reluctant to go to bed before I'd finished out a chapter.
Goldberg also does a tremendous job of addressing criticism- she discusses the overt colonialist nature of population control both in its infancy and in some cases, even today, she reports well on the callousness with which individual women were treated by organizations whose only goal was reducing the number of births. She carefully discusses the debacle of Rosita, wherein the very women seeking to help the young girl and her mother escape and terminate the pregnancy may have inadvertently or even knowingly and complicitly covered up her stepfathers' abuse and involvement. She acknowledges that plenty of feminists and cultural relativists both have rejected support for measures that they saw as colonialist, and have defended acts like female genital cutting. And she cautions against paternalistic measures that impose Western ideology onto foreign cultures, instead championing the support of feminists in their own countries, who are working to change attitudes and policy from within. She walks a fine line in her attempts to respect culture and avoid bias, and ultimately succeeds when she writes that when women are running away of their own volition and sometimes risking death, there is undoubtedly something wrong with that culture.
Goldberg also does well to describe discrepancies in statistics and trends that others might gloss over- she admits that the legalization and wide availability of birth control can also increase the rate of abortion, rather than depress it, as learning they can control their fertility, women seek to control it even further. She widely discusses the apparent anomaly presented by India, where increased education of women hasn't translated to an elevation in their status. And even after debunking much of the religious right's desperate pleas for population growth via a return to traditional family structures, she doesn't merely sweep away their worries, pointing out that the dwindling ratio of young people to pensioners is a valid concern, one that can and should be remedied. She admits that it may very well be America's religiosity that contributes to our uniquely higher birth rate, and contrasts maternal care between Sweden and Germany to explain the latter's lower birth rate. It is hard to find any bias and holes in her discussion of the research- she has done a phenomenal job of explaining unclear data and admitting when there is ambiguity that cannot easily be explained.
This book does not make any new conclusions- as Goldberg readily acknowledges, pointing out that the UN, UNFPA, IPAS, and other various governments and NGO's have explicitly stated her conclusion decades earlier. For those of us who do not closely follow international summits and are not well-versed in international feminist politics, though, this book is a wealth of information and its conclusion and call to action, I suspect, will be eye-opening to most.
I found it highly readable, well-researched, and immensely logical. The stories within its covers are depressing and sad, infuriating, and horrific, but also inspiring, hopeful, and amazing. This is not a pessimistic book, but an optimistic one that lays out the problem, demonstrates what has and has not been shown to work in the past, and says in no uncertain terms "This is what can make the world a better place." It is vastly important in scope- even if you think you don't care about reproductive rights, you should be reading it. Even if you disagree with the very concept of reproductive rights, you should be reading it. It comes highly, highly recommended . . . before I had even finished my library copy, I went out and purchased one for my own bookshelves- that's how impressed with it I was, and how sure I was that I would want to quote it later and need it handy.
Bravo to Michelle Goldberg- I look forward to reading her other works based on the incredibly favorable impression she has left me with thus far.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, well-argued -- and right,
This is an excellent and important book. When people think grandly about politics, women's rights often get short shrift -- if they get any shrift at all. But Michelle Goldberg argues persuasively, with thorough research and many great anecdotes, that a successful fight for women's reproductive rights would solve both over- and underpopulation -- that, in addition to being the right thing to do, winning that battle is also crucial to humanity's future.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening!,
This review is from: The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World (Paperback)
'The mean's of Reproduction' by Michelle Goldberg is a book I debated a long time about even buying. I am passionate about women's reproductive health issues and usually I leave books like this on the shelf where I found them. I always wind up furious because of the ignorance of religious radicals passing themselves off as intelligent. The dismissive attitude of those who want to control we women's bodies due to their religious beliefs. I was raised in an era where abortion and in too many cases birth control was illegal. If you got pregnant out of wedlock you were just stuck. You either married the guy, hoped your parents didn't kick you out or went to a home for unwed mothers. If you were a woman with complications during pregnancy...you died...especially if you were in a Catholic Hospital. There were no options available. I have no desire to return to that era.
I am often amazed at how religion does not view we women as individuals just as extensions of men, especially the Pope. If I hadn't left the Catholic Church a decade ago over this issue, I would be making my way out the front door with this. We women aren't even deserving of personhood. About all we are is a womb to be controlled. How they have the nerve to even call themselves pro life, when in too many cases they are anything but, is insulting to our intelligence? The misery and human suffering they peddle is infuriating. How they shamelessly insist upon pushing Christian dogma on people who are non-Christian is truly revolting. I am also amazed at the people who imagine we can go on over populating without some day paying an enormous price for our follies. It should be obvious to even the most unobservant we are overpopulating this planet.
I found this book to be tastefully done and not offensive to my senses. In short it was a good read and I didn't start foaming at the mouth once. Thankfully it dealt more with international reproductive rights and some of the champions who have fought for their right to their own body and their own mind. Than it did the ones who insult we women's intelligence in this country. So all told I found it informative and enlightening. Something I plan on my Granddaughters reading just so they are informed. Something even I didn't have a hard time reading.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read!,
The case for giving women equal rights as a solution for global poverty is expertly laid out in this fascinating read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real page turner.,
The Means of Reproduction may strike you at first as an odd name. What does it mean? This book had me from the tagline: Sex, Power and the Future of the World. What could be more epic?
The woman on the cover appears to be something of an Atlas, (from mythology) supporting the weight of the entire planet upon her shoulders. It does feel that way sometimes!
Michelle Goldberg seems to have done magnificent research on the topic of women's reproductive health over the last 50 or so years, over the (whole) planet. When we hear the preachers decrying the disintegration of the 'traditional family unit' as the cause of the problems in our culture/world, we can know that this is absolutely not the case. If the authors hypothesis is true, in fact the opposite has been proven by recent history.
This book in my opinion well represents evidence to the assertion, that if women are given reproductive care lifelong without guilt or societal pressure (judgment), with encouragement and support eventually whole villages will be transformed. Possibly even Nations. Women who choose to have children will have about 2.5 children on average. They will work to see that those children will become educated, freedom may ultimately succeed. It has to be about individual freedom.
Oh how the children benefit from this arrangement. Without siblings to care for because mother has gone septic from multiple pregnancies wracking her body in an already weakened state. Parents are able to care for their own offspring. It seems like it could almost be too good to be true...Mahalo a nui, Michelle Goldberg! You hit it out of the ballpark on this one. Looking forward to your next, meanwhile I read that you have a son, congratulations.
E Malama I ke kai.
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The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World by Michelle Goldberg (Paperback - March 30, 2010)