This year The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective celebrated the publication of its seminal book “Our Bodies, Ourselves” 40 years ago. This book ignited changes in health care delivery in the US and worldwide. In the early 1970’s women knew very little about our bodies. Doctors had all of the information and told patients what they wanted them to know. We did not have access to our medical records and there was almost no health information available. Doctors were in charge of our health mad no attempts to share information with us which made them function like gods among us. One woman reported that her physician told her that her pregnancy was none of her business. Don’t worry about it leave it up to him. So you can see, the publication of this book that provided us with valuable, never before heard of health information was manna for our hungry souls.
OBOS came at the beginning of the Women’s Health Movement and became our Bible and still is today. We applauded the questioning of medical authority; we welcomed the opportunity to become active knowledgeable health care users and quickly moved from being passive receivers. We were hungry for knowledge and OBOS provided us information on just about every health topic women needed. Its information presented in a straightforward manner became our trusted word. This book alone has done more to transform our health care delivery that any other publication. Many women still consult OBOS to get information about recent diagnosis and treatment courses.
The further brilliance of the BWHC is shown in its sharing of its information and process with women world-wide. The organization has over 22 national partners and assisted women in the publication of book in more than 25 languages. Miho Ogino of Japan voiced the sentiment of women world wide when she stated “their publication in the early 80’s changed the way Japanese women talked and felt about their bodies.”
The publications of Our Bodies, Ourselves continue to inform us, unite us with women around the world and demonstrate the powerfulness of sharing information. It’s exciting to speculate what he next 40 years of publications will bring.
We can hardly wait.
Byllye Y. Avery is the founder of the Black Women’s Health Imperative and co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices
This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.