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The Top 10 Things I've Learned as an Intern at Our Bodies Ourselves

By Alyssa Tartaglione

This summer as an Our Bodies Ourselves intern I have learned:

  1. Everything I ever wanted to know about emergency contraception.  My main project this summer was to develop a workshop for college-aged women on a topic of my choice.  After creating this workshop, I am an emergency contraception encyclopedia.  Emergency contraception, although known as the “morning-after pill,” can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex has occurred.  It has recently been made available without a prescription in the Untied States by the FDA, but only to women over the age of 18.  Emergency contraception has been so politicized that easy access to obtaining it has been delayed for far too long.

  2. Any computer software can be conquered with a little time and patience.  Another project I got to work on this summer was watching and editing 35 years of media coverage of Our Bodies, Ourselves.  In the process of watching the clips, I learned how to use a Mac and digital editing software.  Having no previous experience with video editing, it was a challenge -- but there was always the “help search.” 

  3. How the book has evolved since it was first published.  As I edited the video clips, it was interesting to see media coverage of the book in interviews and the news, how the book has been used as a pop culture reference on TV shows, and how it has changed through the years. 

  4. The South End of Boston is a great neighborhood.  Every day on my walk from Back Bay to the office, I enjoyed taking in the atmosphere filled with beautiful brownstone homes, fun outdoor restaurants, and the sounds of Spanish in the air.
  5. Judy Norsigian, executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves, knows everything there is to know about anything related to the women’s health field.  Whether I was watching a video clip of her on CNN talking about cloning or taking a phone message from a reporter writing about oral sex classes for women in New York City, I saw that Judy had an answer.

  6. Egg donation is really unhealthy.  I got to write a radio public service announcement for college radio stations.  As I started to do the research for my 30-second blurb, I became more and more aware of how important it is for more women to become informed about the dangers of this process.  The process is often marketed as a quick and easy way for young women to make a lot of money, but it can create serious health complications.

  7. Many aspects go into creating OBOS books.  From the personal stories that women contribute to the quotes that will help publicize the book when it is published, every detail is part of a process that results in a book created by many women.

  8. Our Bodies, Ourselves is known by almost everyone above the age of 30 and few younger people.  When I would tell my peers I am working at the organization that publishes the book Our Bodies, Ourselves, I would occasionally get the response “My mom gave me that book” or “I read about that book in my history class in high school.”  But more often than not, I would get a blank stare.  When I would tell my friends’ parents where I was working, they usually knew the book well.  It was interesting to see this generation gap.

  9. Things about women’s health I did not know before.  The OBOS office has no walls. So as I sat at my desk every day, I could hear almost everything else going on in the office. Topics ranged from illustrations of different positions to breast-feed your baby to more things about menopause than I would ever need to know at my age.

  10. Even though the first edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves came out in the 1970s there is still a great need for the book in today’s world.  The book has changed a great deal since it was first published.  The politics of women’s health have changed, there are new contraceptive technologies, and the women’s movement is different now.  Nowadays with so many sources of information available, the search for accurate health information can be overwhelming.  Our Bodies, Ourselves remains a reliable source for women of all ages to be able to turn to when they need information about any topic related to women’s health.  After working for a summer at Our Bodies Ourselves, I learned that every woman needs a copy of this book on her shelf.






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