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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era 4th Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 142 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0743256117
ISBN-10: 0743256115
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The original edition of 1970's now-classic Our Bodies, Ourselves has sold more than three million copies, and the revised and expanded edition will likely prove equally popular among women of all ages. According to the authors, some of them among the original contributors, knowledge is power, but women will make little change in the medical and health-care industries unless they join forces with other women at home and around the world. Like its predecessor, this volume is wide in scope (but lacking in depth), and has a profoundly feminist perspective as it emphasizes sexual health, reproductive rights, community-based organization and the political, economic and social conditions that limit women's access to quality health care. Much of the new information details recent health research on women's needs and inequities in medical care for men and women, and reflects the experiences of different ethnicities, sexual preferences and economic backgrounds. Women are the primary consumers of health care in the U.S., but, the authors say, they are grossly underserved. In addition, the medical community has viewed many life-stage conditions—pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome, menopause—as illnesses rather than natural processes that require teams of supportive practitioners. The book's rousing political orientation may motivate readers to access the numerous resources listed or the companion OBOS Web site. More than a book, OBOS is a health movement and deserves a place on every woman's bookshelf. (May)


The new edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves offers a relatable voice to help make the very confusing reality of health and sexuality as a girl easier to navigate. In a world that doesn't always offer girls such honesty, the new edition of OBOS makes me optimistic about the awareness and attitude of this generation of women and girls. My brain was fist pumping the whole way through. -- Tavi Gevinson, thestylerookie.com and editor-in-chief of Rookie Magazine

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 4 edition (April 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743256115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743256117
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
I believe, rather than making The New Our bodies Ourselves "easier to understand" than previous editions, or "updated," they have taken an almost defeated stance on women's issues, especially healthcare! I am in my mid 20's and have to say I learned about my body and myself from reading the earlier editions when I was a teenager. I came from a strict household that didn't really discuss sexual orientation or feminist issues, and Our Bodies, Ourselves was key in developing who I am today... It taught me to have no shame for my sexual feelings, how to demand the best healtcare possible, even how to eat properly. I was really looking forward to what the Boston Healthcare Collective had to say to a new generation... and saw that they have, in an attempt to stay "up-to-date," taken a much more passive stance on almost all the issues they used to so passionately educate their readers on. I personally became a supporter of the the movement to end the medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth, and the right for women to use midwives. So I was especially disappointed to find the disclaimer at the begining of the chapter on childbirth in this version saying that in the U.S, women are not always allowed to have natural childbirth, but "it is important to know what is possible." Which to me says, there's a good chance you won't have a choice, but, it's possible, maybe we will someday... rather than, Here's how you fight the injustice! And that seems to be the tone of the entire book, rather than taking a "radical" stance (ie, speaking up) they seem to promote dealing with many issues facing woman today with quiet resolve. I got the impression of, "This is unfair, but we're strong women and can deal with it," instead of "This is unfair, but we're strong women and can overcome it!Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This book is by far the best ever. It is the first edition of OBOS which I feel really addresses the equally pressing healthcare needs of myself and younger generations of women.

I had used prior versions of this book, but still had felt that the authors of those versions assumed that the readers had been with them through the 1970's...etc. The tone of this book is very inclusive and non-presuming. Consequently the medical information presented does not get lost in the personal vingettes. Our own generational experiences are just as important.

Also, the authors take an enligthened approach to sexuality instead of segmenting off "LGBT/queer" issues into a couple of areas. This book is further commendable because it made more of an effort to tell the stories (and thus provide culturally sensitive health care) for different women.

Kudos to the people who suggested a redesign and updating of the book layout.
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UPDATE 2013: I've reduced the stars from 5 to 3 because there is a brand new edition now, which is very strong on the sexuality sections and less strong on the menopause and hormone therapy section (the menopause section tries so hard to give space to varying schools of thought that it ends up leaving one perhaps more confused about what to do than ever). However, OBOS is a must-have for any young woman who cares about the functioning of her body and the politics of health. If you're looking for menopause help, look elsewhere-- I'd suggest the much more practical "Perimenopause & Menopause Workbook," or the even shorter and more practical recent book by Dr. Ricki Pollycove.

Original review, 2005:
Wow, this book is great! It's so much better than the previous editions. The previous editions were extremely informative, but they sometimes stuck more to a feminist "party line" than I am comfortable with. This edition really covers both sides (or all sides) of every argument. For example, it covers the pros and cons of postmenopausal hormone therapy, rather than just taking an "estrogen is evil" approach. I was blown away by how good the breast cancer section is, and the birth control chapter is well done too. In addition to the medical information, this book gives you something to think about, by describing the political context that leads to many of our health issues and decisions.

One more note: They finally updated the photos, thank goodness! I've already gotten copies of the book for myself and my mother, and now that the style lives up to the substance, I can feel free to get copies for my nieces as well. Recommended.
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