Archive for the ‘Our Bodies Ourselves’ Category

March 7, 2012

Pittsburgh, PA Folks – check out the Women and Girls Health Weekend

If you’ll in or around Pittsburgh, PA this weekend, we’d love to see you at the symposium on “Women, HIV, and the 40th Anniversary of Our Bodies, Ourselves,” featuring OBOS co-founder Judy Norsigian.

The symposium is part of Women and Girls Health Weekend coordinated by Educating Teens about HIV/AIDS, Inc. This Friday, there will be a screening of the breast implant documentary “Absolutely SAFE” with filmaker Carol Ciancutti-Leyva, then Judy will speak on Saturday. Registration is required.

Details on the Saturday event:

Saturday, March 10, 8:45 a.m.-2 p.m.
University Club, 123 University Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

“Women, HIV, and the 40th Anniversary of Our Bodies, Ourselves,” an inter-generational symposium featuring Judy Norsigian, executive director of Our Bodies, Ourselves; in observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the book that inspired the women’s health movement. $35 registration includes luncheon.

Presented by Educating Teens About HIV/AIDS, Inc. Co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and its Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology.

February 8, 2012

Good Vibrations And OBOS = A Perfect Match!

Good Vibrations image

We are delighted and honored that Good Vibrations selected Our Bodies Ourselves as one of  four nonprofit organizations it’s promoting during the months of February and March. That means shoppers can select OBOS during checkout online and in stores and make a donation that goes entirely to the organization.

We’re in excellent company! From the Good Vibrations press release:

Good Vibrations, the trusted San Francisco-based company that takes pride in providing accurate information on sexuality and toys for grown-ups, is delighted to announce a new partnership with four regional non-profits as part of their corporate giving initiative, GiVe. Beneficiary organizations are La Casa de las Madres of San Francisco, AIDS Project of the East Bay in Berkeley, ACCESS Women’s Health Justice in Oakland, and Our Bodies Ourselves in Boston.

From February 1st to March 31st, Good Vibrations’ customers can support these regional nonprofits in Good Vibrations retail locations: San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Boston and online. Shoppers can make a financial gift at the time of their Good Vibrations purchase and 100% of your contribution goes to the nonprofit of your choice. [...]

Staff Sexologist Dr. Carol Queen says, “With people celebrating romance and connectedness during Valentine’s Day, we invite them to experience the pleasure of generosity to these worthwhile organizations that support people through some of the more difficult aspects of relationships and sexuality. We are honored to be able to bring the GiVe program to this remarkable group of non-profits.

And if you’re in the Boston area, you can join Dr. Queen and OBOS’s Judy Norsigian this Sunday, Feb. 12, at a special pre-Valentine’s Day Mixer and Info Tour at Good Vibrations in Brookline!

Photo of Good Vibrations in BrooklineIt’s a free event, and you’ll enjoy a light reception and store tour led by Dr. Queen. This is a great opportunity to learn everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask.

Pease RSVP (office AT or call 617-245-0200) so we can provide Good Vibrations with an accurate number for refreshments. Here are the details:

Sunday, Feb. 12, 3 – 5 p.m.
Good Vibrations Brookline Store
308A Harvard Street Brookline, MA

Hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, stop in at a Good Vibrations store or shop online through March 31!

February 7, 2012

The War on Women’s Health Care: Judy Norsigian Joins Discussion on Influence of Conservative Groups

On Monday night, OBOS Executive Director Judy Norsigian discussed the politicization of women’s health on Al Jazeera with Hadley Heath, a senior policy analyst with the Independent Women’s Forum, and Tara McGuinness, senior vice president for communications at the Center for American Progress.

“Inside Story” host Shihab Rattansi was well prepared for what turned into a very interesting discussion. The questions on the table included: Is women’s health being damaged by politics in the U.S.? Has the controversy over funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening underlined the extent to which conservative groups now influence women’s health access?

On the subject of Komen backpedaling on its controversial decision to stop making grants to Planned Parenthood, Nosigian said: “What we see here is a conservatizing trend in this country that I think has emboldened many … I saw the reversal of the decision simply as damage control. I do not think there has been a profound change in perspective at all.”

McGuinness made this valuable point: “This was an effort to politicize what is not a political thing … I think when it comes to women’s health, there aren’t two sides to this issue.”

Even though Komen executive Karen Handel, who drove the decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, resigned this morning, the controversy is far from being closed.

Watch the discussion below.

January 27, 2012

OBOS 40th Featured in The Women’s Health Activist

We’re delighted to see a piece on our recent 40th anniversary global symposium in The Women’s Health Activist, the newsletter of one of our favorite organizations, the National Women’s Health Network. In The Spiral of Women’s Health Activism, NWHN Program & Policy Director Amy Allina talks a bit about our history and reports on panels and presenters from the day, remarking:

Early in the day, Jaclyn Friedman, the symposium’s mistress of ceremonies, explained her belief that women’s health activism moves in a spiral, not a circle, because while we are connected to our beginnings, we are also continually moving forward. The day’s discussions provided a perfect demonstration of that concept.

If you weren’t able to join us for those discussions, check out video from the event, including presentations from Byllye Avery, Loretta Ross, a welcome message from Governor Patrick Deval, panels with our global partners, and more.

If you haven’t checked out the NWHN site lately, go take a look – it has been redesigned to a spiffy new look, with news and blog posts, connections to social media, and lots of great information about the organization and the health issues they work on.

January 4, 2012

OBOS Global Symposium Spotlights Challenges to Securing Health, Human Rights

This article was recently published in OBOS’s winter newsletter. View the full newsletter.

* * *

“I did training for more than 5,000 women across the country, and all their stories and all their experiences are in Our Bodies, Ourselves. Along with the stories and political activism, we started brokering power at the personal as well as at the political level. As of this moment, we have something to celebrate.”

Those words were spoken by Renu Rajbhandari, a prominent women’s rights activist in Nepal, during our 40th anniversary symposium, Our Bodies, Our Future: Advancing Health and Human Rights for Women and Girls, on Oct. 1. Co-hosted with Boston University, the event marked four decades of activism and celebrated our evolution from a small group around a kitchen table in the United States to a vibrant network of social change activists at the table in countries around the world.

Held in conjunction with the release of the ninth edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” the symposium was also an opportunity to meet 12 of our global partners, including Renu, and listen to their extraordinary journeys of claiming and transforming this landmark book for the women and girls of their countries. Renu referred to the effort as a “transcreation.”

Many women talked about the cultural, political and social challenges to their activism and the relationships and networks they have built in order to effect change. (View videos from symposium, including the global panels.)

The book’s impact and legacy was described by many speakers, including local luminaries. In a video welcome, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick recalled how he was 15 years old when “Our Bodies, Ourselves” was first published; it was considered “racy,” yet filled with information that made him “a better person, and certainly a better partner.”

Robert Meenan, dean of Boston University School of Public Health, offered a formal welcome, followed by an all-star cast of women’s health advocates, including Byllye Avery, founder of the Avery Institute for Social Change and the Black Women’s Health Imperative, and Adrienne Germain, president emerita of the International Women’s Health Coalition. Marie Turley, executive director of the Boston Women’s Commission, brought greetings from Mayor Tom Menino, who had declared Oct. 1 Our Bodies Ourselves Day in the city of Boston.

These terrific presenters, and our energetic emcee, Jaclyn Friedman, executive director of Women, Action and the Media and a contributor to the new edition, spoke about the personal impact “Our Bodies, Ourselves” has had on their lives and the important role played by organizations like OBOS in realizing health equality and human rights, while at the same time reminding the audience of the sizeable challenges ahead.

They symposium paid tribute to the 14 OBOS founders who changed the world of women’s health 40 years ago. Sam Morgan Lilienfeld and Judah Rome, sons of deceased founders Pamela Morgan and Esther Rome, shared memories of their mothers – not only as feminist moms, but as powerful and positive role models.

“My mom viewed birth as an experience that has the power to change and define the life of a woman,” Sam said, “and her spirit of embracing and celebrating these major life events, which we sometimes may welcome and sometimes greet with trepidation, is something I’ve always admired.”

In his remarks about Esther completing the manuscript of “Sacrificing Ourselves for Love” just before her death in 1995, Judah said: “Watching my mom through the final months of her life was very painful for me, but it taught me how to live.” He told the audience he had hoped that her legacy would live on, adding, “I can tell from the energy in the room that it does.”

Our courageous global partners have used “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to develop and bring culturally unique health and sexuality information to their own communities. In addition to the challenges they encounter, they also discussed their success negotiating with power brokers – from men and matriarchs in the family, to religious leaders and heads of institutions.

Their stories of transformation, in Tanzania, Turkey, Japan, Israel, Serbia, India, Nepal, Senegal and Latin America, were reminiscent of the journey taken by OBOS founders 40 years ago. The parallel between the two groups of women was palpable and confirmed that not only has the book gone global, but it continues to inspire movement building by and for women and girls in every region of the world.

Loretta Ross, national coordinator of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, closed the day, firing up the audience by reminding everyone of the very real threats to women’s reproductive and sexual rights in the United States and around the world. Even so, she said the global partners’ activism and their use of the human rights framework made her “excited and optimistic” about the future.

As the day started with reminiscences of the 1960s and 70s, it ended with a freshly-stoked fire in the belly. OBOS is at the forefront of changing the lives of women and girls and will continue this work in the U.S. and around the world — into the next 40 years and beyond.

June Tsang is the program associate for the Our Bodies Ourselves Global Initiative

January 3, 2012

Congratulations to Our Editor, Kiki!

This is a purely congratulatory post, full of love and cheer and good wishes for our OBOS colleague Kiki Zeldes, who got married Dec. 30 to Susan Galereave.

Susan Galereave and Kiki Zeldes Everyone who has ever fallen in love has a story to tell. Kiki and Susan’s just happened to make the Weddings & Celebrations section of The New York Times. Here’s the best part, as written by Leann Wilcox:

The couple first met in the early 1980s, after being introduced by mutual friends. They did not reconnect until spring 2007, when Ms. Galereave’s daughter, Jasmine, then age 7, and Ms. Zeldes’s son, Jesse, then 6, began playing together at a potluck get-together for single lesbian mothers in Northampton. The moms and kids quickly became a foursome, sharing meals, games and adventures, but it was difficult for Ms. Galereave and Ms. Zeldes to find time alone, until the very last day of the year.

The couple had planned a holiday weekend getaway with the children to a friend’s house at Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire. On New Year’s Eve day, they took the children tubing in the snow for hours, with an ulterior motive to wear them out. Once back at their friend’s house for the evening, they set the clocks forward three hours, happily allowing Jasmine and Jesse to stay up until “midnight.”

Once the children fell asleep, Ms. Galereave and Ms. Zeldes celebrated New Year’s Eve with their first kiss.

“This New Year’s they’ll be staying up as late as they want,” Ms. Zeldes said of their children. Then she laughed and added, “We may not make it up till midnight.”

For the record, Kiki and Susan didn’t stay awake to ring in the New Year. And neither did Jesse and Jasmine.

December 7, 2011

A landmark in the history of our country…

by Robert J. Levine, MD

I am very proud and pleased to have a copy of OBOS personally autographed by Judy Norsigian. I see this book as a landmark in the history of our country and its culture. There is, of course, plenty of published support for my perspective.

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.

December 6, 2011

New “Our Bodies, Ourselves” a 2011 Library Journal Best Book!

Our Bodies, Ourselves CoverWe are delighted that Library Journal, a source of book reviews and professional information for librarians, has named the new Our Bodies Ourselves 40th anniversary edition one of its Best Books 2011 in the consumer health category.

Library Journal notes the incorporation of global perspectives and says the updated and revised title is “aging superbly.” Other recent mentions in the journal have called the edition “essential for public and medical libraries,” and “…still the bible for women’s health; an outstanding resource that belongs in all health collections.”

We’re always excited to get some love from the library community. In fact, the chapter on Navigating the Health Care System includes the following mention of librarians and libraries alongside other information about accessing and evaluating health information:

Increasingly, people can obtain access to research studies and other professional publications such as clinical guidelines through open access journals, through public access articles, or by requesting articles from a library. One benefit of using a library is that a trained librarian may be able to search for you or show you how to make the best use of databases. Some hospitals or treatment centers have libraries and services to help patients learn more about their condition. State universities with medical schools are often required to make their medical libraries open to the public, and the medical librarians at those institutions can offer expert assistance.

Still need to buy a copy of the new edition for yourself, a gift, or your library? Check out our information about online ordering and clinic discounts!

November 28, 2011

Don’t Miss: Videos and Stories from OBOS’s 40th Anniversary Global Women’s Health Symposium

Did you miss the 40th Anniversary global women’s health symposium at Boston University back in October? If so — or if you just want to relive the day (yes, it was that awesome) — we’ve edited and posted videos from the symposium on YouTube. Take a look and feel free to post and share these presentations.

The list of speakers includes:

  • Byllye Avery, founder of the Avery Institute for Social Change and the National Black Women’s Health Project, on the impact of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”
  • Adrienne Germain, president emerita of the International Women’s Health Coalition, on the challenges and opportunities for our health and human rights.
  • Sam Morgan Lilienfeld and Judah Rome, sons of OBOS founders Pamela Morgan and Esther Rome, on growing up with feminist mothers.
  • Sally Whelan, program director for the OBOS Global Initiative, discusses the efforts involved working with groups around the world that are adapting “Our Bodies, Ourselves” for their own communities.
  • Ayesha Chatterjee, program manager for the OBOS Global Initiative, introduces the organization’s global partners.
  • Loretta Ross, founder and national coordinator of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, delivers a rousing closing keynote filled with personal stories and political wisdom. Don’t miss this.

Plus there are welcomes by Massachusetts Gov. Patrick Deval, Robert Meenan, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, and Judy Norsigian and Zobeida Bonilla, OBOS executive director and OBOS Latina health initiative coordinator. And it’s emceed by the one and only Jaclyn Friedman.

And, of course, there are the stories from OBOS’s global partners — women from Tanzania, Israel, Turkey, Senegal, Nepal, Japan, Puerto Rico, India, Bulgaria, Serbia and Armenia who shared their extraordinary journeys transforming “Our Bodies, Ourselves” into different texts and languages, sparking movements and change in their own countries. Along with U.S. participants — including myself and SPARK’s Dana Edell, they address the successes and challenges of the global women’s health movement in three panel discussions on YouTube.

Learn more about the symposium, which also celebrated the launch of the brand new edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” Even those of us who expected great things came away more emotionally overwhelmed (in a good way) than we could have imagined. Hearing how groups literally created words for women’s bodies that didn’t exist, or how they dealt with harassment, threats and other obstacles to sharing accurate information about women’s reproductive health and sexuality, are stories that stay with you. We hope these videos can be used to educate and inspire.

Here’s Byllye Avery on women’s health and self-knowledge before the publication of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” It sets the stage for everything that happened (and will happen) as a result.

November 22, 2011

OBOS Seeks Motivated, Awesome Fundraiser

Have fundraising skills and a passion for women’s health? Consider applying for our new, half-time fundraising position!

We’re looking for someone to develop fundraising materials, master the use of fundraising databases, identify and cultivate individual donors, and pursue new sources of foundation funding.  Help Our Bodies Ourselves maintain our legacy of education, activism and empowerment.

Find out more here. Feel free to share and re-post. Thanks!

November 9, 2011

Helping women then and now

by Jayne Marchesi

Oh my gosh! Congratulations on 40 years!

I received my first “Our Bodies, Ourselves” when I was starting college back in 1978. Then I gave a newer edition to my daughter when she was in high school. The information in this book was so invaluable to me. Having so many questions and not knowing who to talk to back then made me feel
empowered in my young years.

Having just seen your commentary on the Evening News made me stop in
my tracks and smile and feel so grateful to you for helping women then
and now.


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.

October 27, 2011

Judy Norsigian on “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” Past, Present and Future

NBC Nightly News, which broadcast a great report this week on the 40th anniversary of “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” has posted an exclusive web-only interview with Judy Norsigian, OBOS co-founder and executive director, that is well worth viewing and sharing. (Also see the equally impressive interview with Dr. Susan Love.)

Norsigian talks about how the earlier “Our Bodies, Ourselves” editions demystified health and medical care, helping women to feel entitled about their right to ask questions — and get answers — from a paternalistic medical system. The book “changed the basic discourse” around women’s bodies and health, while also offering explicit information about access to birth control and abortion.

One of the ongoing health challenges, she notes, is the rate of sexually transmitted infections; women around the globe still struggle to have sex that doesn’t put their health at risk.

The video includes footage of a recent book signing for the brand new 2011 edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” held at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass., and references the work of women’s groups in other countries that have adapted “Our Bodies, Ourselves” for their own communities.

In under 3 minutes, this interview provides one of the best historical and forward-looking assessments of the impact of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” around the world.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

October 27, 2011

Susan Love on the Impact of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and Why Breast Cancer Should Focus on Breasts

Susan Love, the well-known breast cancer researcher and women’s health advocate, was a 23-year-old medical student when the first edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” was published, but the book’s impact was instant and permanent.

“It completely revolutionized how I and really the whole world looked at women’s health,” she said during an exclusive web-only interview with NBC Nightly News, which earlier this week broadcast a report on the 40th anniversary of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and the new 2011 edition. (Also see the web-only interview with OBOS co-founder Judy Norsigian.)

Women were treated as “small men who have babies,” says Love, noting there was no effort made to understand how women’s bodies or brains might be different than men’s. “Men were the model, and women were sort of this extra thing.”

“Our Bodies, Ourselves” put forth the radical notion that women are worthy of study. Love recalls seeing the map of the cervix in the first edition of and thinking, “It was amazing, it was a miraculous thing! Who knew what was in there?”

Fast forward 40 years, and Love is still considering the differences between women and men in her medical research. While most of the medical community studying breast cancer is focused on cancer cells, Love focuses on the breast itself.

“Believe it or not, all these years after ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves,’ we know all the molecular biology of breast cancer. But we still don’t know how many holes are in the nipple that milk comes out of,” said Love. “We still don’t know the anatomy of the breast. We still don’t know what the breast is doing when it’s not making milk. So we still need ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ in our lives.”

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

October 25, 2011

The Legacy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves”: Sex, Plumbing and Menopause

Great segment on “Our Bodies, Ourselves” on NBC Nightly News! We’re delighted they featured some of the original authors and women talking about what the book has meant to them. And the camera shots provided good context, showing the many different editions over the years. We’ll post video here once it’s available. (see below!)

A few quick observations:

- Didn’t know Mona Charen was taking part, or that she’s still angry “Our Bodies, Ourselves” separated sex from marriage.

- We need to see and hear more younger women activists like Veronica Arreola, and Veronica’s daughter is super adorable.

- NBC censors must be ridiculously tough these days. From Brian Williams’ introduction:

“Our Bodies, Ourselves” was ground-breaker, a game-changer. It got its start in life as a short pamphlet 40 years ago this month. Then, it became a book and started arriving in American homes. And it was a revelation for women for what it talked about, like sex and plumbing and menopause, information a lot of women at the time weren’t getting from their mostly male doctors. For some it quickly became a kind of bible for the female body in terms of health and empowerment. …”

My partner asked me if the 1971 edition included home improvement advice. For the record, the book did not.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

October 25, 2011

Watch Tonight!: NBC Nightly News Featuring “Our Bodies, Ourselves”

Our Bodies, Ourselves CoverThe new edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” has been picking up some great press from coast to coast, and tonight we’re going national!

NBC Nightly News is doing a segment on the book and its 40th anniversary featuring OBOS co-founder and executive director Judy Norsigian as well as Susan Love, Nora Ephron, Faye Wattleton and book contributor Veronica Arreola, an all-around awesome feminist and women’s health advocate.

NBC also filmed a book discussion and signing held last week at Porter Square Books in Cambridge and may include some of that footage.

NBC Nightly News is on from 6:30-7 p.m. EST. We hope you’ll watch!
UPDATE: OBOS will be featured in a 2.5-minute report at the end of the show.

Plus: If you haven’t bought your copy yet, you can learn more about the book and order it up here.  Also check out of the amazing coverage it’s received so far.

And did you know that “Our Bodies, Ourselves” is available at a 70 percent discount to health clinics and certain other nonprofit organizations? Seriously. That means it’s only $7.80 per copy. Check out the clinic discounts page for more details.