8 essential books on the female body that dispel misconceptions

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Women’s bodies have been watched since the dawn of time. Their bodies have been mutilated, terrorized and objectified to fit the male gaze. Scientific facts are often fuzzy and turn into misconceptions. The way we perceive women’s bodies only reflects the truth about them. Contemporary women writers through their works of non-fiction attempt to rectify this situation. Through years of research and drawing inspiration from their personal lives, they shed light on the myths and misconceptions surrounding women and their bodies. Unfounded social and cultural assumptions often find their way into the pages of science, clouding our judgment. Today I’ve curated a list of books where authors have gone to great lengths to debunk stereotypes and portray the female body as it really is.

These books show us how women’s bodies have been the scapegoats of patriarchy in most scenarios. Science, which prides itself on its objective analysis, fails to deliver the justice and dignity that women deserve. But the time has come to expose the myths that can prevent women from being able to take care of their health because of misinformation. These books teach us to be proactive and not to trust the system that benefits from the oppression of women. They educate us not to lose ourselves in a society that has always worked against us.

Editor’s note: Since there is even less research on trans health care than cis women’s health care, this list focuses on books about cis women’s bodies.

Sick Women: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World By Elinor Cleghorn

In this impeccably researched book, Cleghorn looks at how the world of medicine has wronged women. From wandering womb syndrome to the rise of the catch-all term “hysteria,” Cleghorn explains how our lives are based on misconceptions. The field of science has been invaded by socio-cultural stereotypes, and Cleghorn urges her readers to begin to see how women’s medical history is plagued with myths.

Coverage of Period Matters: Menstruation in South Asia

Periods Matter: Menstruation in South Asia By Farah Ahamed (editor)

Menstruation is still a taboo in many communities. It is associated with shame and loathing and its existence is barely recognized in polite society. This book highlights important perspectives on menstruation from voices around the world. It works to remove the superstitious beliefs we have about this extremely normal bodily function. Filled with essays, artwork, stories and poems by policy makers, artists, activists and scholars, this book is an excellent study of how menstruation is experienced in South Asia. South.

Cover of Ask Me About My Womb: A Quest To Make Doctors Believe Women's Pain

Ask Me About My Womb: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe Women’s Pain By Abby Norman

In 2010, the powerful body of Abby Norman’s dancer began to feel excruciating pain. She lost a lot of weight and gray hair started to grow. She had to drop out of school and so started her journey trying to figure out what was wrong. In this book, Norman recounts what it was like to have his pain rejected every day. It wasn’t until she started doing her own research at the medical library that she discovered she had endometriosis. Placing his own battles with medicine in political and historical context, Norman delves into all the ways in which women’s suffering has been invalidated.

Cover of This Is Your Brain on Birth Control: The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences

This is Your Brain on Birth Control: The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences By Sarah E. Hill

This groundbreaking non-fiction explains how hormonal birth control affects women. Women can now control their fertility, which is nothing short of a revolution. Now women are going to college and entering the public realm more than before. But what are the negative impacts of birth control, if any? Does this pill affect who attracts women? How does this change a woman’s brain and therefore the world around us?

fat forever

Fattily Ever After: A Fat Black Girl’s Guide to Living Life Shamelessly By Stephanie Yeboah

Plus-size blogger Stephanie Yeboah has been subject to fatphobia and racism all her life. From bullying to objectification and humiliation in dating, Yeboah has been through the worst. In this book, she attempts to change traditional narratives. Her goal is to alter her own body image, not by appropriating Eurocentric beauty standards, but by accepting and appreciating her body.

Cover of Belabored: A Vindication of the Rights of Pregnant Women

Relentless: A Claim for the Rights of Pregnant Women by Lyz Lenz

Given our current political landscape where unborn fetuses have more rights than women, this is very important and timely reading. Here, Lenz explored the misogynistic logic behind popular cultural narratives. She lays bare how sexism hinders the way we view pregnant women and their bodies. Peppered with snark and wit, Lenz goes on to explain how a woman is either a goddess or a baby-producing vessel, but never herself.

Cover of The Menopause Manifesto: Take charge of your health with facts and feminism

The Menopause Manifesto: Take charge of your health with facts and feminism By Jennifer Gunter

Through scientific facts, biological evidence, and personal anecdotes, this book is a detailed reflection of what women’s bodies experience in midlife. There is widespread misinformation regarding menopause. Added to this are superstitions and lack of research. Menopause is not a disease and just another stage of our life, but we are far from recognizing it. Gunter demystifies this concept and points out our internalized misogyny.

Cover of Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood

Controlling the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood by Michele Goodwin

This book is a chilling study of how women’s wombs are checked daily by state agents. Lawmakers criminalize women for miscarriages and stillbirths. This leads to women giving birth while chained to iron legs. Sometimes births take place in inhumane conditions and inside prison toilets. In some states, prosecutors reduce sentences if women agree to be sterilized. Often the women who bear the brunt of the state are women of color, and Goodwin’s research focuses on the world’s cruel injustice towards them.

These books bring women closer to their bodies. We can certainly hope that we will have more books of this type in the near future and thus take a step towards real parity. If you want to learn more about women’s bodies, please check out this list of non-fiction readings!

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