SOCIAL SCIENCES

Belabored: A Vindication of the Rights of Pregnant Women

Bold Type Books. Aug. 2020. 448p. ISBN 9781541762831. $26. SOC SCI
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Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Lenz (God Land) has written a book that lives up to her intention of uncovering idealizations of motherhood and maternal bodies, beginning with her laugh-out-loud dedication to her children. Her visceral writing contains both strength and directness, sounding much like a friend sharing details about everything from blood to breast milk to weight gain as a polemicist, clearly influenced in tone and rhetoric style by Mary Wollstonecraft, whose language she borrows for her subtitle. With attention paid to the racial, socioeconomic, and gendered structures that limit the "rights of pregnant women," Lenz spotlights the ways in which society treats women as disposable, especially when they are taking on the literal and figurative weight of maternity. She also relates topics such as the high number of maternal deaths in the United States and the continued assault on reproductive rights.
VERDICT By using her experiences to explore wide-ranging questions relating to motherhood, Lenz has joined the ranks of Jessica Valenti and others as a reframer (and hopefully reformer) of the politics of motherhood. A strong addition to courses in women's, gender, and sexuality studies.

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