April 9, 2018
Our Bodies, Ourselves will cease updates after forty years of educating us about women’s health
by Stephanie DeLuca
Our Bodies, Ourselves, the pioneering book about women’s health and sexuality originally published in 1973 and modernized continuously throughout the years, will no longer be published in updated versions, according to an announcement from Bonnie Shepard, the board chair of Our Bodies Ourselves.
In her letter, Shepard explains that the the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, the organization behind the book, has come to a unanimous decision to transition to an all-volunteer leadership and will no longer employ a paid staff. As a result, Our Bodies, Ourselves will remain in its current 2011 format for now and forever.
Published after the birth of second-wave feminism and the sexual revolution of the 1960s, Our Bodies, Ourselves was one of the first sources of honest information for women about their bodies. It answers questions about every aspect of what it is to inhabit a woman’s body — sexual health, birth control, abortion, pregnancy, childbirth, body image, sexual orientation, gender identity, menopause, sexual abuse and violence, and much more. As the years passed, the book was republished in updated formats with new information learned from research.
Not only has this book served as a source of information for women, but it has empowered generations of women as well, arming them with knowledge about their bodies and sexuality. It’s given women and girls a safe place to find out information that they may be too shy or embarrassed to ask for elsewhere, and it provides an alternative to the often sad state of sexual education found in US schools.
But with the advent of the internet, the access to information has grown. And while a wealth of information is a positive, Our Bodies, Ourselves provided accurate information that’s not always guaranteed elsewhere.
Thankfully, the Our Bodies, Ourselves website will remain a source of valuable information on the internet. Shepard writes, “Our website will transition from publishing updated health information to showcasing ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ excerpts, including adaptations in 31 languages produced by our global partners, and an archived blog covering more than a dozen years of reporting and analysis. The website will also celebrate the history of the organization, document the work we have done for the past 48 years, and chronicle our ongoing advocacy efforts and impact.”
Our Bodies, Ourselves may be ceasing to receive updates, but it will never be forgotten for its seminal role in educating us about issues related to women’s health. As Shepard writes, “We take great pride in the transformative impact that our publications and advocacy have had in the lives of millions of girls, women, and their families in the United States and around the world.”
Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.