Call for Submissions for My Body, My Health

UPDATE July 1, 2012: We are no longer accepting submissions

My Body, My Health: Women’s Stories

Call for essay, short fiction and poetry submissions
for an edited volume on women and health
Editors: Kit-Bacon Gressitt and Jodie Lawston, PhD


Women’s health became a key issue for the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s as women began to explore every aspect of themselves: their traditional roles, their expanding opportunities, their bodies, even their genitalia. And health continues to be an issue of keen interest for feminists — Third Wave, Second Wave and certainly our surviving Suffragists — as women struggle for proper diagnoses; advocate for their ill children, parents, partners and themselves; address patriarchal attempts to control their health (as exemplified in the recent congressional hearings on birth control); and demand clinical trials that test new drugs on women, not just men.

The way we were

Yet few women’s stories about their experiences with health issues are shared beyond workplace women’s rooms, grocery store checkout lines and kitchen tables. Sorrowful and infuriating, hilarious and humiliating, our stories must be told, because women’s health concerns have been denied, ignored, misdiagnosed, and belittled. Today, as women are taking back control of their health and wresting their bodies away from the medicalization and politicization of what used to be natural and private, our stories — of successes and failures — will help others do the same.

This anthology will serve as a soapbox for women of all sexualities, races, classes, ages, and abilities, from which to tell their tales of health and illness, care giving and receiving, recovery and degeneration, birthing and dying, political advocacy and oppression. It is a soft shoulder and a bullhorn, a cup of chamomile tea and a concoction that will knock your socks off. This volume will allow the reader to take a look at a wide variety of issues pertaining to women’s health, from media influences on women’s body images, to women in sports, to women’s experiences with alternative healthcare practices, to women midwifing their parents to their deaths and helping birth their grandchildren.

We hope you have a feminist story or two you want to share with us in the form of an essay, short fiction piece, or poem. We are particularly interested in creative approaches to the overall theme of women and health. Each woman experiences health in so many ways, from so many perspectives: her own health, a parent’s health, a partner’s, child’s or friend’s health. And women seek better health in myriad ways from a variety of practitioners, including themselves. The topics below are suggestions only. Perhaps you have a story about a topic we haven’t thought of, but one that settles comfortably in our overall theme of women’s health. If so, we would like to see it.

We will be submitting the book proposal concurrent with editing the anthology.

Suggested topics of interest — as they relate to women’s health

Death and Dying
End of life care, hospice and palliative care

Discrimination and Violence
Contending with homophobia, heterosexism, or transphobia
Rape and other sexual assault
Violence against women and girls

Environmental health
Occupational Health

Healthcare and Self Care
Alternative medicine and health practices
Caring for aging parents
Dance and other movement
Home and traditional remedies
Long-term care
Mental health
Preventative care
Sick child care

Historical perspectives
Social changes in how women’s health is understood
Clinical trials, sex, gender and women’s health

Identities, Relationships and Sexuality
Gender identity
Sexual orientation or preference
Sexual pleasure

Illness and Disease
Breast health and breast cancer
Cancer and other diseases, including ovarian cancer and osteoporosis
Chronic illness

Intersections of women and health
Women, health and class
Women, health and disability
Women, health and gender
Women, health and the media
Women, health and politics
Women, health and poverty
Women, health and race
Women loving women

Media influences on women’s body images

Medical Systems
Clinical trials and pharmaceuticals
Healthcare insurance
Medical problems and the healthcare system

Organic living or farming
Weight, eating disorders, etc.

Policy and Politics
Politics surrounding women’s health
Public funding and women’s health
Public policy and women’s health
Legislation and women’s health
Health activism

Reproductive Choice and Health
Birth control and family planning
Childbirth and child rearing
Doulas and midwifery
Pregnancy, birthing and post-partum

Substance abuse
Self harm

Women and sports
…and other sports!

Submission Guidelines

Authors may submit one or two pieces to be considered for inclusion in the anthology.

Previously published works can be submitted, and international contributions with universal health themes are welcome.

Essays and stories may be no more than 15 pages or about 4,000 words.

Submissions must be made electronically.

If you submit two pieces, please include them in ONE Microsoft Word document

Please use the following formatting:

– Double-space prose, single space poetry

– Indent start of paragraphs to the first tab

– Make proper use of italics and quotation marks for titles.

– Include your full name, phone number, email address and street address on the first page of your manuscript, and your full name and page number on each subsequent page.

– Include the title of each piece in the body of the page, at the top of the piece.

– If you use references, please use MLA style. Information can be found here: Please keep references to a minimum (no more than 3 – 5 per submission).

– Please do not use any other formatting.

Please attach your submission, in MSWord, to an email and send it to both:

Jodie Lawston:  and  Kit-Bacon Gressitt:

Deadline for submissions: June 28, 2012

Questions? Email Kit-Bacon ( or Jodie (

Editors’ bios

Jodie M. Lawston is Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at California State University San Marcos. She is the author of Sisters Outside: Radical Activists Working for Women Prisoners and co-editor of Razor Wire Women: Prisoners, Activists, Scholars, and Artists. Her other scholarly publications include articles in the anthologies (Re) Interpretations: The Shapes of Justice in Women’s Experience; Milestones for American Women: Our Defining Passages; Beyond Cages and Walls: Bridging Prison Abolition and Immigrant Justice Movements; and Women, Punishment, and Community Sanctions: Human Rights and Social Justice.  She has peer-reviewed articles published in Gender & Society, Sociological Focus, Social Justice, Sage Open, and the National Women’s Studies Association Journal. She has edited several additional projects, including a special issue of the National Women’s Studies Association Journal entitled “Women and Criminal Justice: Policing, Prosecution, and Incarceration” (with Ashley Lucas), and with Martha Escobar a special issue of Social Justice entitled “Policing, Detention, Deportation, and Resistance: Situating Immigrant Justice and Carcerality in the 21st Century.”  She was recently appointed to the editorial board of Gender & Society, and is currently co-editing a book with Mary Romero, entitled In Between the Shadows of Citizenship: Mixed Status Families.

Kit-Bacon Gressitt is a former editorial board member and feminist political columnist for the San Diego North County Times. Her Pulitzer Prize-submitted commentary received first place awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the San Diego Society of Professional Journalists. She now writes book reviews for the newspaper, and her feminist commentary is published by the Ocean Beach Rag, the Progressive Post, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News and on her blog, She is also founding editor of IG Living, a healthcare magazine for patients and providers; co-founder and editor of The Bridge, an erstwhile literary journal; and her work has been published in the 2006, 2011 and 2012 editions of the San Diego Poetry Annual.

Comments (13)

Pam BarnettMarch 10th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I am so excited about this. I will be writing about medical systems. Started writing a book about healthcare 7 yr ago. Have had 16 surgeries mostly because of medical mistakes. Have visited London, johns Hopkins and Boston for care that was missing in Nashville, TN. I look forward to sending you my submission.
Pam Barnett

kbgressittMarch 10th, 2012 at 3:48 pm

We look forward to reading your submission, Pam!

Bella Mahaya CarterMarch 10th, 2012 at 5:05 pm

This sounds great. Will Seal Press be publishing this anthology?

kbgressittMarch 10th, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Seal Press is on our list of hopefuls!

Pamela Morgan RedelaMarch 16th, 2012 at 8:45 pm

I would love to submit an essay piece on birth experiences in a research hospital vs. an HMO, if that sounds appropriate. Exciting collection!

kbgressittMarch 16th, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Sounds perfect!

Atara SchimmelMarch 21st, 2012 at 7:03 am

This is wonderful! I suffer from pudendal neuralgia which means that the my pudendal nerve, the nerve that enervates our pelvis and our vagina has suffered damage. Damage to the pudendal nerve causes excruciating and life-threatening pain (PN leads many sufferers to suicide). I went to over twenty-five doctors before I recieved a diagnosis. By the time I found a doctor that could diagnose me I was suicidal, emaciated and completely disabled by the torturous pain. I am doing better now with the help of Lyrica and Cymbalta and a female doctor who understands the severity and high-risk of suicide pertaining to this type of nerve damage. PN is caused by childbirth, hysterectomys, exercise and weightlifting, bicycling and prolonged sitting. 90% of those suffering from PN are female. PN can also be caused by rape and sexual abuse due to the protective tightening of the pelvic muscles. The muscles become permanently tight and short. Over time they begin to compress and injure the pudendal nerve and its many branches and lead to severe and excruciating pain. It is the norm as opposed to the exception that women searching for a diagnosis are told that their pain is in their head. Women are being abused and mistreated by the patriarchal medical sysytem. Our desperate cries for help are being ignored. There is very little research done on pudendal neuralgia and many women are severely undermedicated. Women struggle to not put an end to their lives because they want to live. They are being denied their right to life. We desparately need help. So many of us are bedridden and our voices are not being heard. Gynecologists are oblivious to the existence of this condition as are PCPs though they are the first practitioners that women go to for help. This condition and other genital pain conditions such a vulvodynia and vestibulitis are excluded from the required medical school curriculum. We have so much advocacy, outreach and awareness work that we need to do. The prevalence of genital pain conditions is enormous. Women are still embarassed to talk about their vaginas and many remain isolated in their pain. I will definitely send you an essay and a poem.

kbgressittMarch 21st, 2012 at 7:42 am

Thanks for the information, Atara!

MargaretMarch 28th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I love this! I have been working a narrative RE my experiences (i.e., obstacles) as (at the time, untenured) lesbian humanities professor with IUI and subsequent miscarriages. In the rural Midwest. With a quack OBGYN.

MegApril 18th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Hello, this sounds great. Will you consider submissions from outside the US? And (question two!) would you consider a short story in the genre of specular fiction?

kbgressittApril 18th, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Indeed we will, on both counts!

BethApril 24th, 2012 at 7:53 am

I’d like to write an essay about my mom’s experience as a in the Detroit Feminist Women’s Health Collective and as a midwife in the 70s, and then as an ob/gyn nurse at a hospital. It would be a personal essay, adding in my own experience. I can see this fitting into a few of your suggested categories, like “historical perspectives” and “activism” and “reproductive choice and health”. Would you consider it?

Linda LichtmanApril 24th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Spectacular! I’ve been working on 2 essays – “The Sunshine in a Wounded Heart” about my experience as an abused child which led to a more lovng heart and “Dobn’t Lose Your Marbles in LA” about the shabby mental health system in Los Angeles. You guys are forcing me to write. Thank you!

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