"Our Bodies, Ourselves," the classic book about women's health and sexuality written for women by women, celebrates its 40th anniversary this week. In this excerpt from its new 2011 edition, a look at what has changed since the 1970s.
BOSTON (WOMENSENEWS)--Since its first newsprint edition published in the early 1970s, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" has enabled women to learn about their bodies, gain insight from the experiences of other women and consider how best to achieve political and cultural changes that would improve women’s lives.
This completely revised and updated ninth edition, released on "Our Bodies, Ourselves'" 40th anniversary, covers topics ranging from sexual anatomy, body image and gender identity to pregnancy and birth, perimenopause/menopause and navigating the health care system.
This edition reflects the perspective and voices of a wide range of women, and their stories are told through new formats. At our invitation, more than three dozen women of all ages and identities participated in a month-long online conversation about sexuality and relationships; we found their honesty and forthrightness so compelling that the conversation itself became the foundation of a new “Relationships” chapter.
Other new voices include women’s organizations around the world that have created their own resources adapted from "Our Bodies, Ourselves." Throughout the book, you will meet members of the Our Bodies Ourselves Global Network and read about their work on issues such as abortion, infertility, HIV education and prevention and social activism. From distributing posters via canoes in rural Nigeria to setting up interactive websites in Israel and Turkey and reshaping health policy in Nepal and Armenia, their efforts exemplify movement building and the power of voices raised in action.
Core Issues Highlighted
This edition focuses on the core health issues—reproductive health and sexuality—that first brought the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective together. Some topics added over the years—such as nutrition, emotional health and medical conditions that disproportionately or differently affect women—have been omitted this time, in part because information is now more readily available elsewhere.
This has given us room to expand on issues such as reproductive rights, violence against women and environmental health, which not only are centrally related to women’s sexual health and well-being but also are areas where, despite decades of advocacy and activism, women still face enormous challenges and obstacles that prevent them from leading safe and healthy lives.
As always, we recognize how the personal is often political and thus underscore when individual solutions are not possible or not lasting. Throughout the book, women who have joined with others to bring about change share their stories. The combination of practical information with political critique and women’s lived experiences has long been the hallmark of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" and is one of the reasons the book has remained one of the most enduring legacies of the women’s movements that grew out of the late 1960s and early 1970s.