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Our Bodies, Ourselves Paperback – October 4, 2011


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Our Bodies, Ourselves + Changing Bodies, Changing Lives: Expanded Third Edition: A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships + S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Revised edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439190666
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439190661
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.4 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The Boston Women's Health Book Collective (now known as Our Bodies Ourselves) is a non-profit organization founded in 1969 whose board members include Teresa Heinz Kerry, Susan Love, and Gloria Steinem. Their mission is to empower women by providing information about health, sexuality, and reproduction. Our Bodies, Ourselves is the organization's core vehicle for driving their mission. While OBOS is famous for its voice in policy, advocacy, and educational efforts related to women's health, they see their role as a global content provider as paramount. Judy Norsigian is the Executive Director of Our Bodies Ourselves.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Our Bodies, Ourselves

INTRODUCTION images


We are delighted to present Our Bodies, Ourselves—an in-depth look at women’s sexuality and reproductive health, from the first gynecological exam to sexual health in our later years.

Since its first newsprint edition published in the early 1970s, Our Bodies, Ourselves (OBOS) 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 OBOS’s fortieth 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 monthlong 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.

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.

Our Bodies, Ourselves is both a text dedicated to factual information grounded in the best available evidence and a resource about health-care inequities and the work of those dedicated to ending social injustices. The many contributors to this book did not always agree on how to analyze the social, economic, and political forces that affect women’s health or how to characterize a medical controversy. When a conclusion remains uncertain, we have shared their questions and concerns so readers can make their own decisions in the absence of the kind of evidence we ultimately hope will be available. Our website (ourbodiesourselves.org) contains additional content, references, and useful links on women’s health topics not covered in this book.

OUR BODIES OURSELVES GLOBAL INITIATIVE

Ever since Our Bodies, Ourselves became a best seller in the United States, it has inspired women in other countries to adapt it—in part or as a whole—to their unique cultural needs. Through the our Bodies ourselves Global Initiative, we support more than twenty-two women’s organizations as they develop materials based on Our Bodies, Ourselves and use their resources in wide-scale outreach to advance the health and human rights of women and girls in their countries. Although the earliest projects were located primarily in Europe, we have since collaborated with organizations across Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe to bring culturally meaningful and reliable information to communities where it is most needed. As a result of our partnerships, resources based on the book are now available in more than twenty-five languages and in print, digital, and other socially interactive formats. You will read about our partners in the “In Translation” sidebars and we invite you to visit ourbodiesourselves.org/programs/network to learn more.

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.

Much has changed in the United States since the first edition, when abortion was illegal, birth control was not widely available, and the few available texts on women’s health and sexuality—almost all written by men—discounted women’s experiences and perspectives. Today, information is abundant, but it is still difficult to find reliable information that encompasses the diversity of women’s experiences and teases apart the conflicts of interest inherent in many issues that affect women’s health. Far too often, corporate and pharmaceutical interests influence medical research, information, and care, and contribute to the unnecessary medicalization of women’s bodies and lives. This not only wastes money and poses avoidable risks but also can discourage women from questioning the assumptions underlying the care they receive and from valuing and sharing their own insights and experiences. The need for a book like Our Bodies, Ourselves remains as strong as ever.

Changing the medical system, organizing for better care, and altering the larger social, political, and economic forces that limit women’s lives require creative and concerted efforts over a long period of time. We believe that enhancing reproductive health and sexual pleasure can play a significant positive role in all our lives and strengthen us as we work toward sustaining a vision of a world that will better nurture all women, men, and children. We encourage you to explore this book with curiosity and vision.

OBOS Editorial Team: Kiki Zeldes, Christine Cupaiuolo, Wendy Sanford, Judy Norsigian, Amy Romano, June Tsang, and Ayesha Chatterjee Spring 2011

Customer Reviews

I would recommend this book to any women.
Megan
While those editions were more fun to read, the layout being more informal, this book has a ton of information.
Virginia music lover
I first purchased the original edition, and have kept up with the book when it has been revised.
MARGARET J CLINTON

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Frances M. Edwards on October 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When this book first came out I started giving it as a gift to high school senior girls to take to college with them. First it was my daughters friends and my friends daughters, now it is my grand daughters and my friends grand daughters. This is by far the best reference book on womens bodies that there is available. I am always saddend that there is not one for men. The new edition is up to date but has not lost the emotions of the other editions.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By windborne on November 17, 2012
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I am old enough to own the original version of this book, released in the 1970s. The book was both educational and comforting to me as a young woman looking desperately for information I could trust and understand. So, when one of my favorite nieces became a teenager, I bought the latest version for her. The information, of course, is solid, as we could expect, but the format is so dense, it's unreadable! Instead of the simply written, well laid out book that meant so much to my younger self, this book is more like a textbook to be left on the shelf with all the other texts we tell ourselves we "should read." At a time when women's reproductive rights are under siege, we really need a reliable source of information and support. I wish they offered cliff notes.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Anna Forbes on December 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
I first read Our Bodies, Ourselves when I was in college and urgently needed to know what was going on with my body and what to look out for during the sexual maelstrom of the 1970s. Thirty five years later, I am buying a copy of the latest edition for my college-aged niece for Christmas, and at her request! I imagine she will read it much as I did -- picking it up to look up a specific question here or there and then getting drawn to read adjacent sections just because they are compelling and she is curious about real life and real people.

She has the option of taking her questions to the internet, which is great. But she wants OBOS because she knows that the information she finds there comes from smart, sex-positive, non-judgmental, feminist women like herself. And she values that as much as I do.

Anna Forbes, MSS
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bob D. on December 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have been teaching the previous edition in my undergraduate and graduate women's health classes, and am thrilled to be able to assign this newest edition. I have pored over it since it came out, and can attest to its relevance, accessibility, and accuracy. Students always love this book and say it is one of the few that they will keep instead of selling it back to the bookstore. Even an old feminist like me still learns new things from this new edition. Highly recommended!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alice J. Wolfson on December 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have every issue of Our Bodies Ourselves and each new edition adds more to our health knowledge base. The latest edition is fabulous and whether or not you have the previous editions, the 40th anniversary edition will be an invaluable resource to women seeking accurate information about their own health and the health care system. Buy it for yourselves, buy it for your daughters and, yes, even your sons.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ToDoList on January 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
I have been consulting versions of this book consistently since adolescence and I am so grateful for the knowledge base it has given me about my body and related topics. It is an essential resource for women of all ages and I look forward to its fairly regularly updated versions. A great investment!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Abdul-Aleem on May 31, 2012
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I truly wish that I had owned this book as a younger teen. I took a Women's Studies class and the Women's Studies department at my university requires this book for every class. It is truly a book full of information and unbiased information and is up to date. There are no outdated terms and the information is all very relevant. There are so many different chapters in this book pertaining to the female anatomy, politics of women's health, health problems specific to women, and many other important topics. It is truly an encyclopedia for all women, young and old. The topics discussed are so important and it is insane how uninformed we are about our own bodies. This book is making a real effort to try to enlighten women the whole world over.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Diana Witcher on May 13, 2014
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I had an earlier copy of this book from way back and found it really valuable and interesting. They made a serious error in the design, in that they broke up everyones story into these sections were each woman answers a specific question in 1-2 paragraphs. No continuity or context. Real disappointment.
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