Our Bodies, Ourselves is the women's health book that was groundbreaking when it was first published in 1972, and is still revolutionary today. Case in point: its regular presence on banned books lists. It is endlessly fascinating to me how dangerous women's bodies are perceived to be.
From a USA Today profile this week on OBOS:
It not only challenged the medical establishment and its assumptions about women, it also encouraged women to explore their own bodies and provided, in unexpurgated terms, information about sexuality and reproduction that went far beyond the birds and bees. ... It was denounced as "obscene trash" by Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell.
Four decades of the pioneering work of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective -- and the release of the new edition -- will be celebrated at a free public symposium on Saturday at Boston University, featuring Loretta Ross (SisterSong), Jaclyn Friedman (Women, Action & the Media), Bylle Avery (Black Women’s Health Imperative) and Judy Norsigan, a founding OBOS collective member. Panels will look at the global work of OBOS and its partners in twelve countries.
Happily, those of us living elsewhere can watch a live-stream starting at 9 am. It will also be Twitter-streamed under the hashtag #obos40, and there will be a post-event round-up at Our Bodies Our Blog.
Incidentally, the cover of the new edition features photos of readers who submitted their images and reflections on what they've learned from OBOS. "I am shocked by how many women to this day still know so little about their bodies," says one reader who bought her first copy in Greenwich Village in 1992. "I am finally ready to let my body tell me what it needs." See more about the cover stories here. Also, a historian at the University of Cincinnati is surveying about the impact of this book: the survey and some of the responses are available online.
More than 4 million copies of the book have been sold, not including targeted adaptations of the book focusing on, for example, pregnancy, and it has been translated into 20 languages. Gamze Karadağ, age 29, speaks to the impact of the forthcoming Turkish edition here:
When “Bedenlerimiz Biziz” emerges, we believe many women will take steps to improve their lives. We also believe that this book’s arrival will create an opportunity for reform around the politics of women’s health and the feminist movement in Turkey.
OBOS refuses money from pharemecutical companies and any other interests that could compromise its integrity. OBOS also inspired a health guide published by the Gay Men's Health Collective, and the forthcoming Trans Bodies, Trans Selves.