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Your Ad Here: Help Our Bodies Ourselves Advertise in The Boston Globe!

By Judy Norsigian |

Can you imagine if Our Bodies Ourselves took out an ad in The Boston Globe? We could announce the launch of our new website (coming soon!) and the important work OBOS is doing to develop and promote accurate information about girls’ and women’s sexual and reproductive health! If you’re a Boston Globe subscriber, print or digital, you can help make that ad a reality — and it won’t cost a thing. Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowAll subscribers are being sent an email or letter — look for the silver envelope — from the Globe about its new GRANT program (Globe Readers and Non-Profits Together), which enables readers to select a group to receive free advertising in the Globe. Please write in the name of Our Bodies Ourselves on the GRANT gift check so we can inform the public about our valuable programs in the United States and abroad. And encourage friends and family members to do the same! Seven-day newspaper subscribers’ vouchers are valued at $100; all other subscribers (including web-only readers) have been sent vouchers valued at $50. Nonprofits will be given free advertising space based on … More

Breast Cancer, Mastectomy and Breast Implants: A 20-Year History of Images and Attitudes

By Rachel Walden |

CBS Sunday Morning this week aired a segment looking at breast cancer and body image, especially women’s choices around reconstructive surgery and implants. Artist and former fashion model Matuschka, whose self-portrait on The New York Times Magazine cover 20 years ago (Aug. 15, 1993) created a shock because it displayed her mastectomy scar where her right breast had been removed, describes her reasons for creating the image — wanting to start a conversation about breast cancer — and the backlash she received from readers who thought she brought shame to women. Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowThe moment was compared to the reaction to Angelina Jolie’s recent decision to undergo prophylactic mastectomy, and current public attitudes about women’s breasts. OBOS Executive Director Judy Norsigian notes how moneyed interests guide what is seen as narrow beauty ideals for women, and how that affects women’s choices about reconstruction after breast cancer surgery. “We live in a culture in which large breasts are almost universally idealized,” said Norsigian. “We’ve had at the same time a huge industry that has burgeoned to promote the idea that women must have implants.” (It was great to … More

Night Sweats: A Memoir on an Unplanned Pregnancy

By Rachel Walden |

Librarian Laura Crossett has just published a memoir of her unplanned pregnancy, “Night Sweats: An Unexpected Pregnancy.” I’d recommend it on the merits alone, but here’s another reason: Laura is donating half of her proceeds from book sales to Our Bodies Ourselves. Crossett describes her experience as a 35-year-old single woman — one month into a relationship and six months into a new job — facing a very unplanned pregnancy. Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowAs the book description notes, her predicament is not uncommon, though her story is: Almost half the pregnancies that occur in the United States each year are unplanned. Some of them happen to married women, some to unmarried; some occur due to failure to use contraception; some due to contraceptive failure. Some happen to women who hope one day to have children; some to women who never wanted children at all. In a political climate that polarizes around issues of sexuality and choice and a popular culture that glamorizes pregnancy and fetishizes motherhood, we rarely hear the stories of women who did not seek to become pregnant. Night Sweats is one of them. Despite … More

Adapting “Our Bodies, Ourselves” for Iranian and Vietnamese Women and Girls

By Ayesha |

The Our Bodies Ourselves Global Network is a dynamic coalition of social change organizations, all of whom talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to the health and human rights of women and girls. This year, OBOS welcomes two new partners into its growing network. The Roshan Institute for Persian Studies, in collaboration with the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, is adapting sections of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” into Farsi. This is a critical effort to reach Iranian women and girls, especially those living in Iran and routinely subjected to oppression and censorship, both by government and other forces. Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowFatemeh Keshavarz, director of the Institute, told OBOS that the Farsi resource, which will be available online, will lead the Institute’s effort to integrate gender into a broader social change framework. “We have so far been an academic institution with a fairly small reach,” said Keshavarz. “I am trying to expand our reach to Persian speakers across the globe, particularly inside Iran, mostly through the internet. I am also adding gender to the range of lenses we have used … More

Supporting Women – At Home and Around the World

By Ayesha |

First in an occasional series by OBOS staff about their work and their lives. I was welcomed into the Our Bodies Ourselves family in January 2006, soon after I moved to Boston from India. As a die-hard reproductive justice advocate (and unabashed “Our Bodies, Ourselves” fan), I was euphoric to join the team. The OBOS Global Initiative, which supports women’s organizations developing and using culturally specific materials based on “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” offered the perfect opportunity to weave together my commitment to women’s rights and cross-cultural movement building. Eight years later, I have helped shepherd the development of resources based on “Our Bodies, Ourselves” in 12 additional languages (with more in development), and coalesced a global network of social change activists. Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowI have been privileged to meet, learn from, and grow to love this group of women, each on the frontline of human rights work in her country. I know that OBOS’s partnerships with these visionary and tenacious leaders represent a community of shared interests that is pivotal to protecting the lives of women and girls on the ground. Beyond OBOS, I nurture my … More

Women’s History: The New York Times Reviews “Our Bodies, Ourselves”

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Forty years ago today, The New York Times reviewed “Our Bodies, Ourselves” under the headline “Thinking About the Thinkable.” It’s fascinating to see how the book was received in the mainstream press — and, in this case, how one of the most prominent book reviewers of the late 20th century, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, approached the text. Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowI admit I was surprised to see his byline when I looked up the review, after being alerted to the anniversary on Twitter via @Feministory. Lehmann-Haupt was the senior daily book reviewer for the Times back then, a position he held from 1969 to 2001. But as he acknowledges up front, you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see the first women’s health book of its kind reviewed by a man. He writes that he took on the review “first, because the book looked useful and I wanted an excuse to read it carefully, and second, because those members of the movement I respect have often argued that women’s liberation means men’s liberation, and it is an argument I am willing to try on.” His perspective is laudable, although sometimes Lehmann-Haupt seems to … More

Women’s History Makers: “Our Bodies, Ourselves”

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

“Makers: Women Who Make America,” the PBS/AOL documentary, debuts tonight on PBS at 8 p.m. (check local listings). If you’re on Twitter, join the discussion during the broadcast at #MAKERSchat. Narrated by Meryl Streep, the film covers the last 50 years of the women’s movement — the accomplishments and setbacks that followed the publication of “The Feminine Mystique.” “Most of us have seen the old television commercials before, those 1950s ads that marketed products by telling women how stupid and disappointing they were. So, in the beginning, this program feels like old news (one generation has seen it all before, and the other doesn’t care), but the narrative quickly comes together and still has the power to astound,” writes Anita Gates in The New York Times. Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowExtended Interviews Online “Our Bodies, Ourselves” founders Judy Norsigian and Miriam Hawley were interviewed for Makers about the medical and social conditions that prompted a group of women to research, publish and distribute their own findings on women’s health and sexuality. Their interviews are available online. “You have to understand that back in the late 60s, 98 percent … More

The White Ribbon Campaign: Men Working to End Violence Against Women

By Rachel Walden |

In light of Congress’s recent failure to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, it’s heartening to hear about the ongoing efforts of White Ribbon, a movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls. Here in Boston, the Men’s Initiative Project of Jane Doe Inc., a coalition of community-based sexual assault and domestic violence groups, is gearing up for the sixth annual Massachusetts White Ribbon Day. The event will take place at the State House in Boston on March 7. The event, which is open to all, aims to change societal attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate and make excuses for violence against women, promote safety and respect in all relationships and situations, and promote the safety, liberty and dignity of survivors. Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowMen can sign up online to be an Ambassador for the campaign and to participate in other ways. OBOS Board member and MA White Ribbon Day co-chair Jarrett Barrios spoke about the campaign recently in an interview with New England Cable News’s BroadSide program. Jarrett talks about the negative media imagery about women that young boys receive, and the … More

Some Doctors Use Risky Drug, Aiming to Shape Girls’ Genitals and Behaviors


by Alice Dreger Dr. Mark Sloan, a pediatrician based in northern California, has written a very helpful overview of a controversial fetal engineering intervention: prenatal dexamethasone for pregnant women considered at risk of giving birth to a daughter with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Although CAH is relatively rare, the use of this prenatal intervention should interest and concern all women’s health advocates for two reasons: This fetal intervention has been pushed through the use of highly problematic sexist and heterosexist stereotypes. The unscientific and unethical ways in which the intervention has been deployed send up all sorts of red flags with regard to patient safety and patients’ rights to informed consent. Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowCAH is a serious inborn endocrine disease; newborns are screened for it, and people who have it usually require lifelong hormonal management. One “side effect” of CAH is atypical (different from average) sex development in some females. In an effort to prevent that atypical sex development, some doctors have offered prenatal dexamethasone, a synthetic steroid, to pregnant women identified through genetic analysis as being at risk of having a child with CAH. Giving … More

Lies Straight From the Pit of Hell and Other Comments on Biology and Women’s Health

By Kiki Zeldes |

“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory … all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.” “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowComments like these are what spurred us to create Educate Congress, a campaign to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Because these comments really were spoken by members of Congress. And that’s not the only problem. Misinformation is too often used as the basis for crafting bad policy, which is why we’re working to show how Congress can advance evidence-based reproductive health policy, based on science and fact. Reproductive health policy pertains to issues such as birth control, abortion, breast and ovarian cancers, the effects of environmental toxins on women’s health and fetal development, and more. We’re into our final countdown, with just eight days left to reach our goal of raising $25,000 to deliver books to every member of Congress and key members of the administration and government agencies whose work … More