The Growth of a Book and the Women’s Health Movement

Celebrate Women’s History Month
+ 40 Years

Of Our Bodies Ourselves

We’re celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the publication of this groundbreaking book empowering women with health information about our bodies and our selves.  Since 1971 it has grown in size from the skinny black and white (now yellowed) publication you see on the top of the book pile on the right, to the nearly 2 inch thick publication right below it.  It continues to serve, as The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective says “as a tool which stimulates discussion and action, which allows for new ideas and for change….to change the health care system for women and for all people.” 

Multiple women’s voices make Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS) accessible and representative of many points of view.  It has been translated into 25 Languages—but not just translated linguistically, translated culturally—adapted to the culture of the countries by women in those countries.  For example, for the Serbian edition the “experiences of Bosnian refugees who had been raped during the war shaped their book’s approach to sexual violence and drove home the knowledge that women’s health and lives are tightly linked to the social and political context in which we live.”  The Indian Bengali language version published the first health information in Bengali on safer sex practices in same sex relationship “defying the obliteration of sexuality from the common language.”  The Israeli version brought together Jewish and Arab women to publish 2 books, one in Hebrew and one in Arabic. 

“Each edition more closely mirrored what we teach in Women’s Health Issues” says Robin Roth, longtime City College instructor who chose OBOS as a text book for Health 25 classes because of the comprehensive approach to women’s health and for its progressive feminist perspectives on women’s health issues: reproduction, sexuality, aging, nutrition, exercise, body image, relationships, and gender identification, among many. A quick look at the table of contents for issues over the years shows how the field of women’s health has grown and changed. The first table of contents fills less than a page; more recent editions’ are several pages long. Additional publications on pregnancy and menopause expand women’s access to easily accessible and detailed information on these subjects.

Our Bodies, Ourselves in available in print, Braille, audio, digital and social interactive formats. 

The OBOS  Website:  has great information, check it out! Go to the Resources page for more information on women and health.

Search Our Bodies Ourselves 40th anniversary global symposium on to see inspiring videos.

Special Event: One of OBOS’s authors, Ellen Shaffer, will be speaking at a Women’s History Month event in Roth’s class on April 4th at 2:30 in MUB 361. The topics are Reproductive Justice and also Health Care Reform. You are invited to attend.

Find out more about Women’s Health:
OBOS Book List and Assignment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s