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Our Bodies, Ourselves is 40 and I'm Not Wearing Pants

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By Jill Arnold

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Naturally when asked to submit a picture to Our Bodies, Ourselves last year for this sidebar, I took a picture of myself standing on a mirror wearing only a speculum. Imagine how furious I am that the editors cropped the picture!* OBOS has gone soft since the 1984 version I first read in college which shocked me a bit at the time but which I can partially credit as how I got here.

The first version I readIn all seriousness, there really aren’t any words to express what it feels like to post this today, October 1, 2011, which was declared Our Bodies, Ourselves Day in Boston. Please share your OBOS story in the comments.


More information: 

Watch the symposium live today (October 1)

Twitter hashtag #obos40

Our Bodies, Ourselves Celebrates 40 Years: Global symposium at BU honors women’s health pioneers (BU Today, September 30, 2011)

Buy the book on Amazon: Our Bodies, Ourselves (October 4, 2011)





*Yeah, I am full of shit.


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Reader Comments (10)

I'm going to have to go totally honest and embarrassing here and admit I've never read it. That sort of thing was Not Acceptable when I was living with my parents, and I guess it never crossed my mind after. This edition, though, I've pre-ordered. Sorry to hear about the cropping; it's always a buzzkill when your artistic expression is squashed.

October 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterANaturalAdvocate

You rock, Jill!

October 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkg

I got my copy of OBOS in a used bookstore on an 8th grade trip to Boston. From that moment forward I was not only the go to person in my school about anything involving sex and reproduction but I grew up to become a doula, childbirth and sexuality educator who works with teens and other at risk populations. Had I not got my hands on that book 22 years ago I know my life would have taken a different, less empowered path.

October 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAelphaba

Big congrats, Jill! That is so awesome that you're a part of the new addition.

I can't remember when I first saw OBOS. I remember being mind-blown and thinking that I wish I knew about it as a much younger woman. It's pretty incredible. And now you're in it. Hooray!

October 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnother Rachel

Oh, how I vividly recall that shot. SO glad to hear you're paying homage!

October 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDou-la-la

I am so happy to have the first edition copy that my mom (a hippie) gave her mom (a military wife). The inscription (in my younger mom's CRAZY handwriting!):

Mom -- Please read this. It is a truly excellent book. Not the usual hysterical, shrieking Women's Lib rag; but instead THE collection of facts we should have been taught long ago and no doubt never were.

I think the comment about shrieking was a 'please read this' attempt between two women who were pretty distant from each other. I can't imagine my grandmother ever reading this, but i'm so thrilled to have it. If/when I pass it on to a daughter, I'll have to make sure she knows the section on being able to reuse condoms( 'a high-quality condom can be used five or six times if properly cared for -- put it in a bedside glass of water temporarily, then wash it, dust with cornstarch, and reroll.') has been updated.

Did I mention that at some point my father, by then divorced from my mother) bought an updated version for me and my sister? I love this book... not so much for its info (which is readily available at this point, from a variety of sources) but for its history.

October 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterP

I started reading my mother's copy when I was about 10 - mostly the parts about sex and masturbating, but also the parts about pregnancy and labor! I also remember flipping through it one new years eve (ok, we lived on a farm in the boonies with no television, life was pretty slow) and was traumatized by the picture of the woman who had died from a botched abortion. She looked like my mom.

October 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

I first encountered OBOSm freshman year in college, on a dorm mate's book shelf. I remember seeing the diagram of a fully dilated cervix for the first time, and shrieking over it with a bunch of friends. It seemed crazy that my body could do that. And that a baby could fit through it.

October 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVW

I love OBOS. :) I remember my first copy in the mid 80s and I recently bought a newer copy from a secondhand bookshop. Inspiring stuff!

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

Awesome, Jill! I remember reading through OBOS at my reproductive health internship in college...I spent a long time on the pregnancy & birth sections even though I wasn't a doula yet...

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