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Sat Mar 23, 2013, 07:53 PM

41 years ago...Why it still matters.

Last edited Sat Mar 23, 2013, 11:01 PM - Edit history (1)

Sep 30, 2011

Forty years after the text was first released, Our Bodies, Ourselves has gone through various revamps: nine editions, 25 translations, e-books, education campaigns—even a pink book cover that caused more than a bit of feminist eye-rolling. The latest edition, a whopping 825 pages, will be released next week, with new chapters on date rape, body image and plastic surgery—“a new edition for a new era,” the authors gush. In its honor, Boston University is hosting a public-health symposium; at Harvard, undergraduates can peruse the changing artistry of body hair in a library exhibit of the early editions. With four million copies sold already, the authors hope to reach a new cohort of young women.

But in an age where every 12-year-old girl can learn about the female anatomy on Google, does Our Bodies, Ourselves still matter? In the beginning, the authors of the book were just 12 women, none of them medical experts, who’d met at a Boston women’s conference, bonding over their inability to find a good doctor. They started gathering in the basement of an Armenian church, and—suddenly realizing how little they knew about their own anatomy—decided to write down their thoughts. Abortion, child-bearing, birth control, lesbianism—nothing was off-limits to these women, who believed, rightly, that with better knowledge, women would be better equipped to deal with their own health.

At the time, abortion was illegal. Female doctors were virtually unheard of in many areas. There was little, if any, sex education in schools. So when the group—who’d later call themselves the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective—decided to release a 193-page pamphlet called “Women and Their Bodies” (what would ultimately become Our Bodies, Ourselves) it was nothing short of revolutionary. “Our Bodies, Ourselves transformed people’s understanding,” says historian Wendy Kline, a professor at the University of Cincinnati and the author of “Bodies of Knowledge,” about the book’s influence. “It was revolutionary both because it provided so much information, but also because that information was, for the first time, in lay-people’s terms.”

Our Bodies, Ourselves is still easy to read and simple to understand. But over the years, it’s had to change its tone. (See: 5 Ways the Text Has Changed.) Gone is the anti-patriarchy bent, as well as the iconic raised fist that once graced the title page of the original hand-printed 1970 edition. No longer do the authors proclaim, “We must destroy the myth that we have to be groovy, free chicks.” (Do we even know what that means?) Instead of essays on “capitalism,” there are chapters on changes in the healthcare system, environmental health risks, and how to be an activist in the 21st century (less marches, more Twitter).

“Tell Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and other anti-choice politicians to please read,” quips Erica Jong.


*****Sorry the first link I posted didn't work....click the second one for more*****

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/09/30/our-bodies-ourselves-turns-40-why-the-women-s-
sexual-health-book-still-matters.html
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/09/30/our-bodies-ourselves-turns-40-why-the-women-s-sexual-health-book-still-matters.html

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Reply 41 years ago...Why it still matters. (Original post)
sheshe2 Mar 2013 OP
Cooley Hurd Mar 2013 #1
livetohike Mar 2013 #2
sheshe2 Mar 2013 #3
sufrommich Mar 2013 #4
Egalitarian Thug Mar 2013 #5
sufrommich Mar 2013 #6
MineralMan Mar 2013 #7
sheshe2 Mar 2013 #12
2naSalit Mar 2013 #8
sheshe2 Mar 2013 #15
niyad Mar 2013 #9
sheshe2 Mar 2013 #11
ancianita Mar 2013 #10
hfojvt Mar 2013 #13
tblue Mar 2013 #14
Curmudgeoness Mar 2013 #16
sheshe2 Mar 2013 #17
Curmudgeoness Mar 2013 #18
GeoWilliam750 Mar 2013 #19
sheshe2 Mar 2013 #20
GeoWilliam750 Mar 2013 #21
no_hypocrisy Mar 2013 #22

Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:03 PM

1. Recommended. 40 years is within my scope of existence...

 

... and 43 years of awarewness (sorry, can't remmeber shit past 1969) has brought me to the cusp of confusion regarding this topic.

<=HERO!

REALLY??? We're still here????

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:12 PM

2. I still have my copy from the 70's...not sure the year

I will have to look .

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Response to livetohike (Reply #2)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:18 PM

3. Sigh~

I don't have mine anymore.

However in the age of the internet, I can download it!

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Response to sheshe2 (Reply #3)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:28 PM

4. I bought a 1972 edition on ebay years ago.

I don't remember the cost but it was inexpensive. I've bought a lot of the old Ms. magazines on Ebay too. For awhile,you could find some really classic 2nd wave relics for pretty cheap and without much competition,I notice now that 2nd wave feminist stuff is going up in price.

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:28 PM

5. K&R Wonderful book. Never been widely read enough IMO. Of course Mother Thug gave it to all the

 

little Thugs back in the day and ever since I've been consistently astonished at how many women are still so profoundly ignorant of their own bodies. I'm always like, how can you not know that? You live in one of them!

Insufficient circulation of this work is one of the chief causes of the resurgence in feminine repression.

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:32 PM

6. It brings back so many great memories.

What a shock it was back in the 1970s when first opening this book and every dog earred copy was passed around. Thank you for posting this.

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:33 PM

7. I am a man.

When the first edition was published, I bought a copy and read it cover to cover. I learned a great deal from that book and recommend it to all men.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #7)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:46 PM

12. +1

and thank you, MineralMan!

You are a wise man.

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:34 PM

8. I found that book

in a PP clinic in 1972 and it was a real eye opener for me. The one quote I remember from it has been like a mantra whenever I had to argue about abortion and pregnancy issues with others...

(paraphrasing but the point is clear and exactly what I repeat year after year) "... when a woman is pregnant and she wants a child, it's a baby; when she is not wanting a child, it's a medical issue that needs attention."

Never forgot that description of a reality that was of concern to every sexually active person I knew during the pre-Roe years and even well afterward.

And bravo to these brave women for producing this book and keeping it alive. I have seen it in PP lobbies throughout the country over the years and champion all who advocate for it and make it available to all women and men.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #8)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 09:32 PM

15. That was a great quote!

Thank you so much for you insight, 2naSalit.

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:35 PM

9. still have one or two of the later versions, and "ourselves, growing older"

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Response to niyad (Reply #9)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:44 PM

11. To Boston, Ma.

To the brave women of Massachusetts that made this book happen.

For women everywhere, Our Bodies and Ourselves!

Thanks, niyad.

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:42 PM

10. Like MineralMan, I recommend it to all men.

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:47 PM

13. interesting

makes me regret never having had a copy of it in my bookstore.

I did have a book called "The Male sex machine: an owner's manual" (not sure about the title except for the owner's manual part, but it was about the male body). I think I got it from overstock. At some point, after it didn't sell, I gave it as a gag gift to one of the bartenders where I worked, having gotten her name in a drawing.

She was not amused.

Well, it was supposed to be a gag gift, otherwise I might have given her a copy of "Herland".

Anyway, one of the male bartenders was skimming through the book and said something like "this is really interesting". That apparently there were many things he was learning about the male body from that book.

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 09:25 PM

14. My mom bought me that instead of telling me the facts of life.

Never did have 'the talk.' Wonder if it's too late.

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 09:46 PM

16. I remember how completely shocking this book was

when it first came out. OMG, you would think that they were telling women to kill all men, just because it was so explicit---for the time. Women were not supposed to think about their bodies, except to know how to fix their hair and makeup.

I am sorry to hear that the book has dropped the feminist leanings.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #16)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 09:59 PM

17. Sad isn't it...

after all these years, we still are not to think about our bodies. The GOP menz seem to think that it is their god given right to make our decisions for us.

Thank you, Curmudgeoness.

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Response to sheshe2 (Reply #17)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 10:13 PM

18. Men do think it is their right to make our decisions,

and there are setbacks, but I do think that women know much more today, and are more open in talking about it, than in 1970. I didn't know anyone who would openly discuss orgasms. And few of us knew the proper names of our body parts. Today, you will hear these terms on the nightly news.

Now if we could just get those conservative men to get out of our reproductive choices and learn what rape is, we will be making progress....even if we never get as far as we should.

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 10:59 PM

19. As a father

I bought this for my daughter - who very much identifies as a feminist.

I have mostly found that ensuring women access to knowledge/information and the choice of what to do with their bodies and their lives more commonly leads to the happiest families.

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Reply #19)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 11:03 PM

20. Thank you, it is great that you bought this for your daughter!

GeoWilliam, Welcome to DU!

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Response to sheshe2 (Reply #20)

Sat Mar 23, 2013, 11:25 PM

21. It is a pleasure to be here

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Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 08:06 AM

22. Coming of age during that era, I started with "Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex"

which I stole from my parents' bedroom, and went to "Our Bodies Ourselves" which really was a textbook for girls. It explained so much that wasn't covered in sex ed (if you had the program). And it was an owner's manual. It empowered. I took responsibility for monthly breast exams, had a dozen questions for my GYN for my annual exam, and gave me the "balls" to retort to a condescending middle aged male physician who demanded how I got cystitis. (I answered, "How to do you THINK I got it????"

OBO is one of those seminal books that changes your life.

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