Posts by Wendy

May 28, 2011

A book of wisdom and self-being

By Inna Hudaya

Quinn fuller, my beloved American friend, is the first who introduce me to OBOS. She and I started a weekly workshop and self-help group in Yogyakarta in 2009.

My work focuses around abortion issues in Indonesia, and as a counsellor I found that less education and information on sexuality and reproductive health leads to unwanted pregnancies that end in abortion. Unsafe abortion is the common option for women in Indonesia, especially for unmarried women, women in rural areas and poor women.

Based on these facts, the Sexuality and Reproductive Health workshop and self-help group is our first step to provide information and education to these women. We use OBOS as the source for the workshop. I never enjoyed reading a book like OBOS. I love the language because it makes me feel like I’m reading a magazine—so fun !

A change starts from an itch to act. Start with workshop in 2009, and a year later, I and two American girls, Quinn Fuller and Jeannie Mc’Intosh were designing curriculum for our first Sexuality and Reproductive Health School in Yogyakarta. This is a 16 day/48 session school for 15 scholars in Yogyakarta. This year, we will invite scholars not only from Yogyakarta but all over Indonesia. Yet again, OBOS has really been helpful and has become my favourite source.

What I like most bout OBOS is it gives women many options, yet lets women decide what is best for them. Not only does it give information, OBOS helps women find wisdom to know what they need.

Before Quinn left Indonesia, she gave me her copy of OBOS. To me it’s more than a gift, it’s a treasure and a blessing. It’s not just a gift for me, this is a gift for every women I work with, for every student of the school. We have only one copy of OBOS, but many students borrow it so they can share it with their communities.

I’m now working as facilitator for SRH, and OBOS is always there on my table whenever I need it.

Thank you OBOS!!

Do you remember when you first read “Our Bodies, Ourselves”? Take part in OBOS’s 40th anniversary by sharing how “Our Bodies, Ourselves” made a difference in your life. View more stories and submit your own.

February 28, 2011

A little girl in the 1970s

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Caitlin Mercer

I feel lucky that I was a little girl in the 1970s.  My mother and her friends had been strongly influence by the movements that spawned the Boston Women’s Health Collective and OBOS.

My mother bought a copy of OBOS and Changing Bodies, Changing Lives in the early 1980s and I kept them both in my room, read them obsessively.  I read about all the mysteries of adult womanhood I was yet to know, and about the concerns that were very present in my life at that age.

The pictures and stories of women who had struggled with illegal abortions informed my political future.  The sex positive, woman positive tenor of the volumes has informed my sense of self.  The language of empowerment is something I have shared with many peers, men and women.

I gave my 1998 era volume to a young friend recently, and have shared a lot with her about how the challenges in women’s health have changed so much.  It saddens me that so many would turn back the clock to the times when the poor and uninformed could more easily be victimized.

February 12, 2011

A gift from my dad

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Anna Hensley

I received my first copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves when I was 12. At the time, I was living with my single father and my younger brother. My dad gave me a copy of OBOS that he had purchased, I believe, as part of a Women’s Studies class he had taken in college. While my father has always been very open about talking about puberty, sexuality, and health with his children, he gave me OBOS in hopes that it might provide me with a richer and more thorough source of information on women’s health.

When he gave me the book, I was embarrassed and threw it under my bed. But shortly after, I pulled it out again and began perusing its pages. By the time I was 15, I had read the book in its entirety and asked my dad for an updated edition for Christmas.

Having a well-researched, expansive, feminist women’s health resource at my disposal—especially one written with a tone of genuine care and respect—made all the difference for me. I credit OBOS as the root of my interest in feminism, health, and the body, and it has had a lasting impact on the work that I continue to do today.

Thank you, OBOS!

February 7, 2011

Raised by OBOS

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Kyra Zola Norsigian

I had the honor of being raised by OBOS—the women, not the book—though the two are inextricably intertwined.

This Collective of amazing women, and the people who supported them, shaped my childhood in ways that words could not describe. I am the person I am today in great part thanks to their role-modeling, advice, support, and knowledge.

Thank you to the women of OBOS for giving yourselves so generously to me and the world!

February 7, 2011

Finding our own answers

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Danielle Schuman-Olivier

As an ex-nun and priest, my bewildered parents didn’t exactly know how to talk with their four, teenage daughters about things like our changing bodies and our sexual natures. But they were (and still are) very open-minded people and always had strategic reading material lying around the house.

The chapters in our Our Bodies, Ourselves captured my attention and normalized so many of the things I was feeling. Later on in college, I got into the habit of collecting old copies of OBOS at garage sales and used book stores. This collection became my reference material as a women’s studies minor and then in graduate school where I became a nurse-midwife.

The learning in midwifery comes from studying, from being with other women during a birth or first pelvic exam, and from my experiences in my own body. Both studying the menstrual cycle and personally tracking my cervical fluid for years, for example, both taught me how to help someone else prevent/obtain pregnancy. Likewise, it was both school and the experiences of my patients, my sisters, and my friends giving birth that gave me the understanding that my body could also do this.

Recently, our community health center has started a Centering program ( for pregnant women. Here we strive to turnover the medical approach to pregnancy and give true care by way of support and education. I am trying to unlearn the habit of answering all the questions but to instead let women speak to each other and, together, find their own answers and voices.

Empowerment—this is one of the hallmarks of my profession and one that I first learned from Our Bodies, Ourselves. Thank you!

February 7, 2011

A cat named Schuster

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Margie Sved

Happy Anniversary!! Rubies and Red dresses!!

I found my second edition, which I dated as having bought in July 1978. I have no idea what’s happened to my first edition; I thought I had kept it. And, I first saw that first printing, before the first book, sometime around 1972, while in college.

The funny story around when the first edition came out, I got two kittens from the same litter, and wanted to give them “paired” names. I ended up calling them “Simon” and “Schuster,” since they had published OBOS. Simon died young, Schuster lived for
years, and I loved telling the story when people asked me how I chose that name!!

Our Bodies, Ourselves came out about when I came out, so I have always tied the two together. I became involved in the women’s health movement in 1974, when I was one of the founding mothers of the Durham Women’s Health Cooperative (Durham, NC).  And from those women’s health beginnings, I decided to go to medical school (1975-1979). Still seems like just yesterday. And in so many ways OBOS was my guide, and still is!

February 7, 2011

A very cool history teacher

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Debbi Ali

I was 15 in 1970, and I had a very cool history teacher, who was young and interested in the women’s movement and all things associated with it. I remember in particular that we had a formal debate in class on abortion. It was that year and, I believe, through her that I got my first copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves.

It was the one printed on recycled paper and about 50 pages long. I carried it for years; bought copies for everyone I knew, and finally lost it in a fire in 1985. It served as a guidepost for many of my searches into sexuality; birth control and altered the way I looked at the health care system I became a part of as a nurse.

I have given copies and recommended Our Bodies, Ourselves to many young women who have come through my nurses office; to daughters of friends; and friends in general.

It is amazing to see where you have come to from that first printing!

Congratulations and thank you.

February 2, 2011

It makes the cut

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Boston University School of Public Health graduate

I just read the commencement speech [Judy Norsigian's talk to the BUSPH graduates in May 2007] and I actually own the 1976 version of Our Bodies, Ourselves that George contributed to and that she refers to. Yuval bought it for me in a used book store in Israel when we were first together. It is fantastic.

I have moved it from Israel to Utah to Boston to Israel and back to Utah. Not many books made all those cuts.

February 2, 2011

A High Standard

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Warren Bell, M.D.

Our Bodies, Ourselves always occupies a prominent and honoured place in my waiting room! I can’t think of a more reliable source of information about women’s health issues than Our Bodies, Ourselves. It’s set the standard for years, and continues to do so.

And a high standard it is!

February 2, 2011

Always Relevant

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Anonymous

My mother gave me a copy of the second edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves when I was a teenager. She bought it when she was young, probably soon after she got married, and warned me that the medical advice would be almost 20 years out of date. But it was still worth a read.

I have enjoyed comparing new editions over the years. While the facts about what birth control is available might change, the content is always relevant.

February 2, 2011

OBOS influenced by career choice

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Marjorie Greenfield

I am thrilled to be one of the chapter reviewers for the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. The more I read it, the more I realize how influenced I was by this book when I was in high school and college. I am sure it played a role in my interest in ob-gyn. And I can see the ways that it influenced how I write. Thanks for this opportunity.

February 2, 2011

Small Treasures

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Diane Clapp

I wrote the chapter on Infertility and Pregnancy Loss in the 1984, 1992 and 1998 editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Working closely with Norma Swenson and later with Jane Pincus on these chapters was exciting.

In the 1990′s, infertility finally got defined as a disease by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This classification allowed women, men and couples suffering from infertility to get some tests and treatments covered by insurance.
I spent 29 years working as the medical information director at RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association.  From my role there and in my private practice, I know how isolated and out of control women feel when they can not get pregnant or cannot have a successful pregnancy.  Our Bodies, Ourselves offered support and information to those all over the world struggling with this problem.

I will always remember receiving a small package from a woman in Poland who included a letter and a small, wooden, carved box.  She wrote that she had tried to have a baby for years and thanked me for writing about infertility in Our Bodies, Ourselves. She said it made her feel less lonely and more informed.

The box she sent is one of my treasures.

The other memory I have is when my teenage daughter, who at the time often felt that I could do nothing right, saw my picture inside the cover of Our Bodies, Ourselves said, “ Mom I can’t believe you wrote for this book!”

This truly is the “go to” book for women of all ages and it is clear than the knowledge that fills the pages of Our Bodies, Ourselves helps us move through all the stages in our lives.

February 2, 2011

It never occured to me

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Anonymous

I was blessed-gifted-chanced with the most beautiful, most kind and most loving parents. They taught me to love learning; reading; experiencing. I can tell them everything. My mother, when I was 9 and three quarters, bought me yet another book to quench my thirst for knowledge. This book was Our Bodies, Ourselves.

The first thing I noticed was the size, a several hundred page paperback. The second, the fact that it was nonfiction. Third, the pink on it’s cover. I did not like pink. I still do not like pink, not for it’s connotations, or that fact that it is the only shade of a  color to have a name-I digress. I poured through Our Bodies, Ourselves. I learned so much I did not ask my mother about. Not because I was embarrassed to ask her, but because it would never to occurred to me that that goes there…

February 2, 2011

I learned to accept myself

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Tamara Safford

I was never a star in being a feminist, although it is my lifestyle. I read many feminist books in the 1970s, and followed the trend by living in a commune of women only in New Haven.

The book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, impacted my life as a book that overcomes fear to admit you are a woman alone, with many morale and ethical family values that confine us and can impair health rights.

It is a book that gave me an approach to health rights and how to feel well and accept myself.

February 2, 2011

“The Book”

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Tamara

I recently connected with a couple of high school friends through Facebook, and asked them about THE BOOK that I had bought for one of them nearly 30 years ago. My friend was getting married, but was confused about some of the most basic aspects of sex and sexuality. She asked me questions that I thought any young woman should know, and so I made a trip up to Littleton, NH one day and bought her a book.

The high school friends did remember the book, the giggles, blushing, and also scandal that it caused, and confirmed that yes, indeed, it was your group’s book. I still feel strongly that buying that book for my friend who had had NO sex education from school or home was a wise idea. It caused a scandal at the time, and I’m quite sure that it was no small event in the small-town lives we lived (and I think that at least one mother is still upset with me!).

I like to think that maybe my small act impacted the lives of a half-dozen or so young women–and maybe some young men–who would otherwise have started their sexual experiences with little more information than rumors. It amuses me that while other parents were upset, my own parents (yes, the minister and his wife!) offered no apology for my behavior and likely thought it was a timely bit of education.

So, please let your group know [Our Bodies Ourselves] that in one small town, one small girl bought your book so many years ago, and the scandal it caused served only to make more people interested in getting their hands on THE BOOK. Which, of course, meant that more young women got information that they desperately needed.

I’m sure that similar stories played out in many small and large towns, which means that the impact of the book has, no doubt, been huge. Somewhere in northern Vermont there is a very dog-eared copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves!