OBOS Forgotten? Say What?

As BlogHer's own Isabel Anders has been teaching us in the last weeks, age often brings wisdom.

And I welcome the gray hair, like I do the wisdom. It is a badge, a outward sign of an inner triumph, a testament that I'm not making the same goofy mistakes many younger people seem to be making.

But, don't worry. In my new intermittently posted series, "Reliving the 70s, Whether You Want To or Not," Grammy Sunbonnet will be setting everyone straight, providing oceans of practical living enlightenment.

Our Bodies, Ourselves 1973


One of the amazing realizations I've had since I've joined BlogHer, has been the discovery of women's current social awareness. I see opinions and emotions being bandied about, many times without a factual understanding of what has gone before. Why aren't we standing on the shoulders of those women who paved the way for us to be as far along as we are today? Why aren't we researching the history of the issues about which we care so passionately, before we opine on a topic of choice?

Specifically, how in the world can any members of a diverse, brilliant, educated and communicative body of women be without a foundation of feminine health and anatomical information?

In that light, I ask, you how can any young women in this day and age need to be told where her hymen is, or was, located? I am not belittling those who had no idea. Several commented on the post to that effect. The problem I'm having is, it seems, the landmark book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, the definitive work on feminine health knowledge that was commonly espoused, and openly so, for all of my young womanhood, has been lost or inadequately passed on.

Our Bodies, Ourselves 1992


I'm talking about information that was openly provided to any and all during the 1970s, and now seems to belong to the long distance past, waiting for the Rosetta stone of rediscovery. How in the world has this happened? Why isn't this basic knowledge common knowledge?

Didn't the college girls of the 1970s that sat around in group circles of self-exploration with mirrors and copies of the book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, grow up to be pro-active mothers and grandmothers? When their daughters were old enough for THE talk, didn't they reach to the top of the bookshelf, pull down their old copy, blow off the dust and pass it on?

Our Bodies, Ourselves 1998


And how about all of the reprints and updates of the book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, in repeated publication by the non-profit Boston Women’s Health Book Collective since 1970? Haven't all of these copies been read? And what about BlogHer, an Internet woman's forum of Internet woman's blogs, why is there hardly a mention of the book if one does a search, which I did the other day and again this morning?

The only mention I could find was a August 14, 2008 post from "veronicaeye" who, being a professional feminist, espoused the Our Bodies, Ourselves Pregnancy and Birth book. But, rather than basking in grateful attention from BlogHer's millions of readers, "veronicaeye's" post has, as I write, absolutely ZERO comments. I guess the lack of response was overwhelming as that was her last post, although she has a fantastically informative, currently thriving blog, Viva la Feminista."

Our Bodies, Ourselves 2005


The book Our Bodies, Ourselves is a feminist success story. Selling more than four million copies since its debut in 1970, it challenged medical dogmas about women’s bodies and sexuality, shaped health care policies, energized the reproductive rights movement, and stimulated medical research on women’s health. The book has influenced how generations of U.S. women feel about their bodies and health. In addition, Our Bodies, Ourselves, has also had a whole life outside the United States. It has been taken up, translated, and adapted by women across the globe, inspiring more than thirty foreign language editions.

Our Bodies, Ourselves 2011


So, in closing, let Grammy Sunbonnet brew a fresh pot of tea and give you the keys to your feminine kingdom.

From this day forward, if you have questions about your body or yourself, lean on:

  • the extensive Our Bodies, Ourselves web site,
  • the book that started it all, available as a 2011 edition on the publications page, which BTW, has books for every stage of a women's life,
  • the Health Information Center on the top bar of the Home Page to research any health concern, technical approach or organize for change,
  • and, finally, for a calendar of speakers from the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective who will be in your area.


Once you go and peruse the options of the OBOS web site, you will wonder like I do why anyone in this day and age would need a GPS to locate their hymen.


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.

NaBloPoMo February 2012

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