A Message About the Future of Our Bodies Ourselves
By Bonnie Shepard — April 2, 2018
A letter from Our Bodies Ourselves Board Chair Bonnie Shepard, April 2018
I am writing to you – our longstanding supporters and allies – to let you know about significant changes at Our Bodies Ourselves.
Earlier this year, board members, staff, and founders of the original Boston Women’s Health Book Collective held a retreat to determine the way forward for our historic organization. We took a clear-eyed look at the realities facing nonprofits today, at the changes in the publishing industry, in the ways our audiences seek reliable health information, at the proliferation of new feminist initiatives and organizations, and, most importantly, at our current financial and organizational limitations.
We came to the painful conclusion, after several years of struggling financially, that we don’t have the resources and infrastructure to continue our main programs using paid staff. On Oct. 1, we will transition to a volunteer-led 501(c)3 that will mainly advocate for women’s health and social justice — adding our voices to important political and cultural conversations as we have done throughout our history.
Our retreat resulted in unanimous agreement on a number of difficult decisions. As of Oct. 1, we will stop publishing updated print and digital health information; scale back technical assistance for global translations and adaptations of “Our Bodies, Ourselves”; and transfer ownership of Surrogacy360.org, our website on international commercial surrogacy, to a trusted partner. We have no plans to update our signature book, “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”
Last year, we focused on a new strategy to fulfill our mission in the digital age but did not raise sufficient funds to move beyond building a working model. We are exploring handing over this prototype, and the content completed so far, to another feminist organization.
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.
Following these decisions, we are in the process of reorganization and transfer of leadership, which will be completed by Oct. 1, when a new board of directors is reconstituted. I will step down as chair of the board on June 1, and Judy Norsigian, Our Bodies Ourselves co-founder and former executive director, will succeed me. The board has accepted Julie Childers’s resignation, also as of June 1, with deep gratitude for her executive leadership over the past two years, her strategic vision, and her management of the organization through this transition.
Starting this fall, our volunteer board and founders will focus their advocacy on health policy, in alliance with other organizations, leveraging the trust that Our Bodies Ourselves has earned over almost 50 years of education and activism. We are also committed to providing limited support to organizations that wish to translate or adapt selected content from our books or website. You’ll hear more from Judy Norsigian about our plans going forward, including opportunities to get involved as a volunteer.
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. We thank the foundations, corporations, and, most of all, you — our faithful donors, allies, and volunteers — who have supported us over the years and contributed to these achievements. We hope you’ll join our advocacy efforts in the next iteration of Our Bodies Ourselves.
As you consider this news, we would be glad to speak with you, hear your comments, and answer any questions you may have.
In gratitude and solidarity,
Bonnie L. Shepard, Chair
Our Bodies Ourselves Board of Directors
Postscript — added 4.16.18: Please note that the 2011 edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” is still in print and available for purchase.
Learn more about the current activities of Our Bodies Ourselves.
That’s really sad, and most unfortunate for the millions of women who rely on OBOS for updated information (which often challenges the conventional perspective of doctors, hospitals, and researchers–most of whom are men). OBOS is one of the greatest and most durable achievements of second-wave feminism. Especially now, when giant, profiteering corporations control both media and medicine, OBOS is needed more than ever!
Dear OBOS Board and Founders: I’m sure this was a heart-breaking decision. While I’m gratified that OBOS will continue, I am so sad it will no longer update or publish “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” This is truly the end of an era that was significant for so many of us. And as one of the commentors said, is needed now more than ever.
That said, I feel such love and gratitude for all that OBOS and its amazing book has given us! For me at least, this book was the original roadmap that connected women, health, education and power. It’s been by my side for a very long time, like a good friend.
I am so sad to read this, but understand completely…serving as one of the earlier contributors to OBOS along with Esther Rome changed my life and professional career!..I urge anyone who has benefited from this iconic work to pay it forward as an OBOS volunteer…we changed the world once, and we’re doing it again! Best wishes for your “Next Chapter” in this incredible women’s health resource…Nancy Reame
I write to express my deep gratitude for, and sense of inspiration about, all that OBOS has done and been. OBOS’ contribution to feminism in the US and globally has been powerful, disruptive, and generous. But what is more important, it will endure.
I got one of the first editions in the early 1970’s. Loved seeing a clear, empowered view of women and our health. Thanks so much for all you have accomplished for women
Thank you for your amazing contributions to the women’s health movement and to so many of us. I imagine it must have been a very difficult decision…but we need advocates now more than ever. I’m a member of National Women’s Health Network, and greatly admire their work. How will your advocacy work be similar or different to those issues? All the best,
It is sad to see the realities of this situation, but I am sure you all have done the best you can given the environment today. You can be proud of your history and I hope you will be able to find volunteers to provide whatever level of information is possible. Best of luck to you all.
Thank you so much for your work. My life, and those of many others, was made better by you all. You are an inspiration.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for your tireless efforts to make sure we all had complete and accurate, judgment free information. Thank you for swimming in the same direction whether it was against the tide or not all these many years. Thank you for consistently empowering all of us, and all of our daughters to be our best selves. Thank you for providing materials that I have used in my teaching. Thank you for producing books I could “leave out” for my teens to find. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I go back to the first one, and named my then cats Simon and Schuster (Schuster outlived Simon, and I got lots of chances to say why he was so named) in honor of their willingness to publish OBOS. I’m sad, but understand, the need for this transition, and I hope OBOS will continue a web presence and a loud voice.
My tattered and treasured copy of Our Bodies Ourselves: A Course by and for Women (New Printing of Women & Their Bodies) sits on my bookshelf. Even after almost 50 years the feel it in my hands and the faint odor of newsprint brings a flood of memories and emotions from those critical years and those critical personal connections.
Its pages are newsprint stapled together, copyright 1971 by Boston Women’s Health Course Collective.
The price on the cover: 35¢
My “rap group” out here in San Francisco got together regularly and studied the material. We bought plastic speculums and held up mirrors for ourselves and our friends to help us better understand and accept our so-often-despised bodies.
It was revolutionary enlightenment for us and for so many women as we began the process of shaking off our chains.
I am forever grateful to you.
May the future bring new opportunities and new successes.
How many pages was that small, stapled copy of newsprint pages? I got one at college orientation at SUNY Stony Brook in 1971 but have long lost track of it now although the memory of its powerful content remains.
This makes me sad. I’m 45 years old. Someone gave me an OBOS book back when I was about eight years old. This book was my only source of information about my body, relationships, and social justice! It definitely had a profound affect in the kind of woman I am today! Thank you so much!
While I am saddened by your decision, I have a great deal of trust in your wisdom and the changes you are making.
I bought my first copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” in 1973, my first year of college. I shared it with roommates and friends and it was our inspiration to learn more about our bodies and take control of our lives, healthcare, and relationships. Years later I bought copies for my daughters as they grew into young women.
Thank you for all your dedicated work over the years and good luck as you transition into your new mission!
Dearest Judy, Bonnie, Current Staff and all those from the beginning of time:
I am so grateful for everything you have done and continue to try to do for women & girls around the world. As a 68 year old woman from the USA, I have been a beneficiary of all the teachings, education and resources from the beginning and I thank you. You have so much to be proud of and the world is better because you are in it✨
I have the original version of Our Bodies, Ourselves and plan on giving it to my daughter who is pregnant with her first baby.
Dear Bonnie and Judy, and the whole team,
Thank you for sharing the news, and for the amazing courage and hard work with which you have managed OBOS, helping so many people throughout the world. I am grateful for and proud of your work and legacy. And let’s celebrate as OBOS enters the future.
Thank you for your service through these past 48 years. I would be delighted to volunteer or assist in any way. As a former member of the Women’s Community Health Center in Cambridge MA., i know how important your work was and continues to be. Blessings
“Our Bodies, Ourselves” was the progressive, cutting edge, women’s health bible of earlier decades in this country. I relied on it for information that I wasn’t reading or receiving from doctors and the male dominated media of that time. The publication of the first resource book of “Our Bodies, Ourselves’ was groundbreaking, exhilarating, helpful and empowering in its accurate portrayal and representation of women. Thank you!
As a former nonprofit ED I can only imagine how challenging this process and result has been for you all. Personally, I am very sad about this turn of events especially at a time when our language regarding women’s bodies is under attack and at risk of erasure. I would love to see OBOSbe a voice for women in this regard.
Thank you all, so very much, for all the help you’ve provided to women through the years. I still have my first edition, and many others as well. Feminism owes you a great debt.
Kitty, Hi. Yes They are owed a debt of gratitude from so many of us. Leslie Cragin.
“In America, They Call Us Dykes.” in the library…1972? I rushed home to tell my girlfriend there was a word for it, and when we grew up we could move to Boston, because there were some there. She basically never spoke to me again. 6th grade was hard. But I’ll never forget my gratitude, for the women who gave me the name.
Thank you for your work. We needed you.
I am very grateful for the work you have done thur the years. I found a solution for a health problem I was having using the information from your book I stopped eating soy and all its products. My thyroid was enlarged I began having painful test done to me and was suggested surgery. I stopped soy vitiamins.. soymilk that I loved, and tofu. My knot in my throat went away within a month. Also stopped the supper flourite toothpaste the dentist said I should use and brought a water filter for my kitchen. Again thank you your books are health bibles for me.
Thank you for all you have done. Your book had a helpful impact on my life.
Thank you for the decades of work and commitment you have all put in to this amazing book and process. You have shared so much of yourselves, so much knowledge and supported so much freedom that the world has been enriched and changed for the better.
I am happy to volunteer in whatever way possible.
Thank you for all you have done for women and girls. You are sheroes one and all.
I adore you. Thank you for all your work.
Our Bodies Ourselves was a fixture in my house growing up and I learned so much from it and leaned so much on its honest information.
This is a difficult time for your organization but I see that you are moving forward as a united front, carefully and after much analysis. Your clear headed decision is brave and I love the idea of a website for this powerful bible of a book. I would also urge you to submit materials to the archives of feminism found through wonderful transmitters of knowledge and history such as the Cengage Learning publishers, offering compilation after compilation of in depth subscription documents to public libraries. Do not let this book disappear completely: it is a testament to our times. Thank you for everything ?
Nooooooooo! And yet there it is. The passing of an era. I still have my newsprint edition. It meant the world to me and I taught my first women’s health class in Manitowoc, WI based on the book. I carried a plastic speculum in my purse after teaching self exams with mirrors as they taught me in the book. Ok so then, like now, I carried a big bag and it got lost in the bottom. So much of who I am was informed by OBOS and Eherenrich/English Witches, Midwives and Nurses.
Glad to see the advocacy work will continue. So very grateful for all your work.
Thank you, Sisters!
OBOS (and Judy Norsigian’s mentorship) have meant so much to me, and to the organization I founded with her encouragement (and OBOS’s support)– but I think this is the right decision.
Though there is much work left to be done, OBOS radically changed the discussion and, I think, planted a million seeds that are continuing to sprout today. Ironically, by making misogyny in women’s health often less glaring and more subtle, it has made it harder to sustain the act of calling it out. Thank you OBOS for forever changing the discourse, and may closing one door open many others, and free up many people’s energy to address a variety of problems in ways we may not have even imagined yet. (Oh, and enjoy a well-deserved rest, too!)
I am 52 years old and grew up in Massachusetts. I probably began reading Our Bodies, Ourselves as one of the first things I could read at all when I was in elementary school and I’ve always considered it a foundational, trusted resources.
I now have a 13 year old daughter, an 80 year old mother and am co-creating an LGBTQ centered family building and reproductive justice center.
I am very grateful for the thousands who made this movement happen…We’ll make sure to have your most recent edition on our resource shelves for generations to come.
Dear OBOS Board and Founders:
I can only imagine that these decisions were hard to make and heartbreaking. Thank you for the important conversation, contribution, and leading perspective on women’s health.
I am truly grateful to have benefited from this important work.
Important to continue!
I got a copy of the original edition back in the seventies. I learned so much. It seems like we’ve grown up and grown old together. Your updates will be missed.
Change is always difficult, I applaud you for redesigning yourselves and prioritizing your mission.
The world is so fortunate you will remain involved in women’s health activism and social justice!
The work you all do is so important, and I thank you…for myself, my 2 daughters, and all women and girls in this world. You are all extraordinary, and I cannot express enough gratitude for all your years of fighting the good fight! Much love and peace as you transition…so glad you’ll still be around.
While I’m saddened to hear this news, I remain grateful for all the hard work you’ve done. OBOS, saved my life as a teen in the “inner city”. It was an invaluable resource during my adolescence and one that I referred many other teens to, when they needed answers that their parents couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give them. Again, thank you.
Thank you for all you have done. I hope you will find organizations you have faith in to partner with and contribute to in the future. Best wishes to you all.
My first girlfriend sat me down with a copy of OBO when we first started dating at 16 to clear up some misconceptions I had and catalyze conversations about consent. While I am a UU and I expect my son will eventually take OWL classes, I am sorry that this candid and woman-centered resource will not be available to him as well: it really helped cut through some of the masculinist baggage I had absorbed as a boy.
Thank you for finding a way to continue. As many have noted, we need the wisdom of OBOS now more than ever to counteract the corporatization of health care. OBOS has always been my trusted go-to for thorny issues. I will rely on your choices of partners in the future to help guide me and my daughters. Long live OBOS.
such sad news. When in Peace Corps Honduras 198t6-88, Our Bodies Ourselves was a huge help when working with women. At that time Peace Corps provided the book. I joined Peace Corps again in 2007, posted in Azerbaijan, Sadly Peace Corps no longer provided the book , but you beautiful people sent two copies to me ! the women i worked with were so eager for any and all information. They had never had the opportunity to discuss or be given any information regarding a woman’s body, sex, reproduction, and on and on. thank you thank you , for all you have contributed.
I know this was a hard decision and salute your efforts to reach consensus and move forward in a treacherous age for feminism and women’s health. Your group has made an enormous difference. Thank you all for all your work. I look forward to what’s next.
This book, OBOS, changed my life when I first read it almost 40+ years ago. I have repeatedly suggested it to mothers with daughters, professing the straight-forward “facts” laid out in its pages instead of the “myths and lies” regurgitated by so many. Agree with previous comment, “needed now more than ever”.
Thank you for all of your dedication to empowering girls and women everywhere.
Thank you so much for all of your revolutionary and groundbreaking work. You have all made a huge difference in the lives of women. However, I’m sorry to hear that Our Bodies, Our Selves will not be updated. I am a therapist/health educator who specializes in women’s issues particularly midlife and menopause. Years ago, I taught a class at a local hospital on menopause. I wanted to use a chapter from Our Bodies, Our Selves as a reading. However, the male gyn. who was coordinating the program censored my reading!! Shocking. Again, thanks for publishing the best resource ever for women’s health issues.
How about a consortium of Ms. Magazine, BUST and other feminist organizations already in the publishing business?
Thank you for your tremendous contribution to the health of women. I still have a copy of the original, and remember how we devoured it – the first publication that addressed the health issues that all women encounter. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back for your groundbreaking work!
I forgot to mention, I caught my sons reading OBOS. I daresay it contributed to helping them be the fine men they are today.
I still have my original copy of our bodies ourselves, purchased in 1979. It was the only information I could get my hands on regarding birth control and how my body worked. I could not get access to the birth control I needed and ended up pregnant at 15 years old that year. Our Bodies, Ourselves provided me with much needed information about my growing baby and the changes within my body and how to prepare for childbirth. While it also provided information on abortion, I choose to continue my pregnancy but I appreciated all the detail information about abortion options as I made my decision. I am so thankful that this information was available to me, resulting in the right choice for me and a very healthy baby. I continued to use it throughout the 80s and 90s and it was a valuable and usually primary source of information. I now get my information from the Internet but still consider my book to be a treasure. Thank you very much for providing so many of us the detailed and unbiased information that was just not available in any other format at that time. You are an amazing group of women and nurtured me and guided me through difficult times without even knowing me. I hope you will find your way through the new communication outlets and continue your impact on young women everywhere.
Your original edition, which I bought early on, was incredibly important to me personally and to many of my friends. Thank you thank you thank you for all your work.
Thanks for being there for me when I was a teenager with version #1 and now for my daughter with the most recent update. Important work I am hopeful of the work continuing with another organizations.
Thank you so much for all you’ve done, especially for creating OBOS. I don’t know how many lives you changed because of your work but know that you changed mine.
I just wanted to acknowlage what an amazing thing this group has done in bringing awareness to people and not just women.
I am shocked by the necessity of your decision. Your works were the basis of the beginning of self discovery used by my mother for her girls, and me for mine.
Thank you for all you have done and all you will do t8 is to do.
As an activist, I wish I’d known about your hardships before.
As a midwife professor and woman I have appreciated the great work you have done for me, my daughters, my students and women everywhere. You will be missed. I am confident your work will again arise in another iteration.
As someone whom has been at the helm of several non-profits, I sympathize with your situation, and you have my thanks for your years o work. I was slightly dismayed by a single phrase in your message, that you were considering turning over some assets to “another feminist organization.” Will we ever reach a universal, “our body”, to teach us all how to truly care for and respect our, and each others’, bodies?
I read my first copy when I was a teenager. It gave me so much that I could not get anywhere else. Over the years it empowered me to understand my body, what was happening at various points to it, and how to better take care of it myself as well as in the face of medical intervention. Also, I introduced the book to both of my daughters.
Our Bodies, Ourselves will live on in the legacy of knowledge and empowerment handed down from generation to generation.
Thank you for your groundbreaking work. You were a light in my life 48 years ago!
You will be missed but not forgotten!
Thank you for the 48 years of educating women and men. As a graduate student in my first real class on human sexuality back in 1980 Our Bodies Ourselves was something of a Bible that I used for the class. As a young guy it was an important primer for me.
Is it too late to organize a fundraiser?
You inspired me early in my life to learn about me. Your vision and your work will continue to inspire and change lives. Thank you for your work and dedication to women’s health. I am tearful as I write this.
I will miss getting copies of your books. It was a life saver for me in my early 20’s. It had pertinent information I need on an unusual medical issue. The only place I found it was your book. Thank You.
Thank you all for your work all these years. You have made a huge difference to women everywhere.
Today I went to the website in order to share information with a young woman in Tanzania. Lucky for me I explored the timeline section noting all the translations and adaptations. I am so very impressed with this organization and the quality of information made available!
Thank you for all the years of dedicated work. I still have my first copy from the early 1970’s and my newer version when I reached my menopausal years. All my siblings received copies as gifts for their children. May this next phase be successful.
Thank you so much for your contribution to and advocacy for women’s health.
This breaks my heart AND my soul. When I was 17, in 1976 a high school friend gave mecopy of the original book. It served me well in an age when mothers rarely spoke to daughters of such things. I have given copies as gifts myself and have been grateful all of these 42 years for the knowledge I gained from that book. Thank you.
Sisters, You have touched, educated, supported and inspired countless women here in Boston and across the globe. We are forever grateful for what your hard work and wisdom has produced. OBOS was transformational for those of us lucky to get our hands on it in the 70s and I’ve witnessed its same impact on others ever since.
You have been a transformative publication and organization. That will never change. Thank you.
Edition 1 was revolutionary for me and my friends – thank you .
As hard as this must have been, I think the digital world and other factors probably make this the right decision. OBOS was a huge-impact publication then and now. Changed so many women’s lives. Thank you for all you have done and will do.
Aloha. Please contact me after you have established your new 501(c)3. The Sidney Stern Memorial Trust would be proud and honored to provide a grant of $5,000 for your refocused and still vital efforts. Thank you.
OUR BODIES changed our lives. My copy (bought in01973 for the considerable sum of $2.95) remains on my bookshelf. My sons learned lots of things from “the book,” and I plan to share it with my granddaughter when the time is right. She’s 3; we have a little time yet, but this copy is going nowhere. Thank you for being there for me!
Thank you for your many years of advocacy, education, and encouragement. As this process plays out, may we all go from strength to strength.
Thank you so much for your invaluable contributions to feminism and women’s health. I have benefited personally and as a sex educator and a sex therapist, your influence and resources have been of immense value.
My deepest thanks.
This is so sad. I found out so many things the first I read a copy. It sad to think other women and girls won’t have this resource any more.
Bonnie, I wish to express my deeply felt gratitude for your work and esp. for the books I got to know in my early twenties. I was then studying at the University of Göttingen, Germany. My girlfriends and me started a women’s group to explore our bodies and ourselves and have been friends ever since. This year marks the 36th year of that friendship. Thank you for an inspiring and truly live changing book.
This is a sad post. Your work has helped legions of women.
Condolences on these forced changes and congratulations on Decades of brilliant work. I’m happy to say I was just one of many contributors to the second volume. Knowing Paula and Wendy at that time are great memories for me.
there’s a difficult and even dangerous question for you if you have time to answer and it’s okay if you don’t.
Our bodies ourselves: the current question of who has these bodies and who constitutes “ourselves is a bizarre and troubling one for me these days. Do you all have a position or a policy for the publication itself regarding, for instance, whether a penis may be female, and a vagina and reproductive organs do not constitute a woman?
Just to be clear, I wish all safety and well-being for males who want to present to the world as stereotypical women. However , I do not want to see actual females erased, in terms of protections and rights that we have gained over the decades, and most obviously in the area of Sports competitions in which females are losing places and opportunities to males who have co-opted literally what it means to be female.
I’m gently, politely, non argumentatively asking what position you’re taking on whether biology is bigotry.
As we used to say,
In Sisterhood, all best wishes
Thanks for your kind words about OBOS and your comment. Our Bodies Ourselves has long supported the rights of trans and gender queer people to identify as they wish, to receive appropriate and supportive health care, and to be free from discrimination.
We’re proud that the authors of “Trans Bodies, Trans Lives” who, inspired by “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” invited OBOS founders to write the preface to their book. You can read the preface here.
Thank you OBOS for your boldness and bravery from the beginning and every step along the way. In this unbearably challenging cultural moment, your thoughtful decision gives the rest of the change-making world a model for adaptation and conservation while honoring a legacy of phenomenal impact and without abandoning the hope, chutzpah, and knowledge accumulated over decades. To the future with deepest gratitude!
I still have the original OBOS — it was required reading for my son! Thank you for all you’ve done over the years.
This is a sad day. I remember having been given a copy of this book in the late 80s and from then on always got a new edition and also making sure my daughter had one. I am sad for those women and girls who can no longer get one. Thank you for all the work and I do hope something will happen that will enable the book to still be updated and printed.
Thank you so very, very, very much for your work. Generations of women have benefitted from your generosity and expertise.
The war on women’s health is far from over. With the current administration, having access to the wealth of practical, factual information that OBOS has provided for decades is critical. This is such a sad evolution.
Too bad you can’t reach out and generate enough enthusiasm for one last blow out volume. I’d pre-order it.
As one of the editors of the U.K. edition can I thank you all for initiating a genuinely international conversation about health and women’s rights. I am proud of my connection to OBOS and glad that we were able reach so many women with information about their bodies which they could use to empower themselves and to challenge male authority. In sisterhood.
Thanks for your thoughtful deliberation and advocacy for women over the years. You have been a mainstay in my library.
OBO will remain a stalwart icon in the historical twentieth century reclamation of women’s health in women’s hands. There will never be enough ways to thank you for all the foundarional work you planted. thanks for all the love.
I have only recently discovered OBOS & as an Australia found it filled so many gaps in the way our systems distribute knowledge.
OBOS gave me the push I needed to branch out from clinical practice into creating a resource dense project for Australian women with experiences of early pregnancy loss. Your resources taught me that health illiteracy is not okay, never has been, and that we all have a responsibility to ensure the democratisation of health resources & knowledge is a priority in any feminist space.
This book was revolutionary and much appreciated as a resource for myself and my three daughters, who are in in their 30’s now:)
With gratitude to all who have given so much over the years with this incredible work. And appreciation for the thoughtful note. The work will continue in so many ways far into the future from all the amazing work.
My college boyfriend gave me a copy our sophomore year, in the early 1970s. We both learned a lot, and I thank you.
Ever since, however, I have wondered about this bit of advice given in the book: “Don’t point the breasts.” I know it’s ridiculous but those four words find their way into my consciousness every few years and I still don’t know what they mean. Anyone?
You changed the world for the better, and you kept doing it over, and over again. Your contributions have been life-saving and continuous. Congratulations. Don’t worry about the future. You have created a pathway for everyone to follow.
Dear Ms Cassidy, Shepard, Norsigian, Childers, whomever else this may concerns, everyone both on/ff of here:.,
I am back again because I thought of some thing since my reply to this comment.
Have you guys ever thought about going from women’s health/sexuality to including beyond as well. Especially, how much changed from a half a century (in couple/few yrs from now). At the same time also going from catering to just one of the aisle to both sides of the aisle.
I mean that I have been in the middle of road with OBOS for a better of half a decade/dozen yrs now. Exactly, it also goes beyond you guys to the organizations in the majority vs minority.
This also applies to the future as well. Think thats it for now.
Thank you, again, in advance.
Jessica A Bruno (waybeyondfedup)
I’m sad to hear that you will no longer be publishing updated versions of the book, though I understand why. That book saved me in college and, even without updates, I will always recommend it to any young woman in need of good, reliable, empathetic information. Thank you for everything you’ve done and everything you’ve been.
Thank you so much for enlightening me with your very first and second editions. They are a hallmark of the Women’s Movement and belong in our Hall of Fame, should we ever get one.
Thank you so much for your dedication and support for women’s health. Forever grateful.. Keeping up with the times, I look forward to the ( next) online chapter of OBOS. Onwards and upwards!!
While I understand the realities of life in 2018 which make this decision necessary, it is very sad nonetheless. OBOS was the first book I ever saw which actually explained our bodies in a clear and straightforward way and connected us to health education and awareness. I used the original book for many, many years in programming with teenagers and it never failed to be the best resource available.
You are legendary, and have done such important work, for millions of women, for generations of us. I have owned three different editions of OBOS, and am looking at the one on my shelf now, to which I still regularly refer. Thank you so much for all you have done, for showing healthy and diverse women’s sexuality, and for informing and empowering us in our sexuality, our health, and our encounters with medical professionals and systems. Organizations, like the humans who start and run them, have life cycles, and yours has been long, purposeful, and very important. Thank you and best wishes to all of you in your new, changed role. Any ongoing role that you can continue to play will be a valuable one. Bravi!
I am very sad to know OBOS is over. It was a life saver for me when I was young and in need of help understanding the world of (young and older) womanhood, as well as, informed and safe sex. It has also been a training tool for me when I tell young women about birth control and beyond.
Thank you to all of the people who have kept this publication going on for as many years as they have. Truly a labor of love! Please know that it is greatly appreciated.
This is terrible news. As a publishing professional (25 years in university press publishing) I am sorely disheartened with the idea of not updating your book. Print book sales are up, ebooks are down. That’s first. Second, in the face of an anti-education and anti-female administration, public school health programs, women’s health initiatives, and reproductive rights in general are shrinking rapidly, your advocacy initiatives included, and the need for educated scholarship and plain-talk for our under-served populations is CRUCIAL, your book among them. In Texas for instance, the only reproductive health issue addressed in public high schools is abstinence, really. My daughter was educated there and the UU church, thank goodness. Rather than go completely digital, a huge mistake by the way, digital files can be hacked at any time . . . a book’s content is unchanged over time, why not update content every 5-6 years and partner with Planned Parenthood perhaps? There are MANY of us who relied on your book, gave it to our children, and will continue to support you. A digital platform is not sustainable over time and I mourn this decision.
You have all made a priceless contribution to the women of America and helped change medical practice and a generation’s view of women’s bodies. Thank you so much!
Thank you for all of your work over the years. I was honored to be a Women’s Health Hero in 2010 and appreciate all the commitment of staff, board, and volunteers over the years.
Hi, This is sad news.
I wonder- do you think there could be found interest in producing a narrative film about the historical origins of the movement of OBOS?
I am a feminist narrative filmmaker.
Thank You thank you all of you. A truely life changing book.You lifted the accumulated wieght of anxiety from the sholders of women who discovered that they could find answers, that they could understand, and that the ignorance that governed the lives of their mothers and foremothers could be removed by collective effort and self education.
I still have somewhere the original newsprint version that preceded the earliest version pictured here. I bought it with me from Boston to New Zealand in late 1972 and gave it to the university reference libarians who placed it next to them in the library where they could share its information with the women staff and students who so desparately needed answers to their questions. This was before the ‘laity’ where allowed into the medical school libary and at a time when ‘books like that’ where held in special locked cabinets in the public libarary. These messh boxes looked like, and were refered to, as ‘cages’.
You gave us the key to the cage. It was the beginning of a revoution…..
I have learned so much from the amazing people of Our Bodies Ourselves. From interning as an undergraduate to co-editing the 2011 edition to the global program, I personally and professionally grew to become a passionate women’s rights advocate. I am continuing the fight, and I am forever grateful to OBOS for the solid foundation you built for me. Big hugs to you all!
I credit your organization for informing thousands of women in my area with important information denied to us by other sources. I credit your organization with helping me stay healthy concerning women’s issues when I was just a teenager. I referred many of my female students to read your books to find the answers that they needed answering when n mothers refused to teach important stuff. (I am a retired educator of 27 years.)
I still have my original and yes also learned about using a speculum on the living room floor from a male PA and his wife who had read the book. Later became a midwife. I believe the young women of the world will continue in their own way. We have always succeeded to thrive in the grass roots
Thanks to the OBOS founders for publishing the first book I found as a teen that showed lesbians in a positive light. Even if, at the time, the 1970s photos seemed a little dated in the 1980s, it meant a lot to me to discover I was not the only one!
Our Bodies Our Selves has been such an important part of my life through the years….like a friend who was always there to provide wisdom and a sense of perspective. Wishing the publication and collective were to continue to survive in some form.
I had had the original paper version for years..and so treasured it.
With love,and gratitude
I am truly sad to hear; OBOS has had such impact on so many. And I can imagine how difficult this decision was. I had the pleasure of contributing a piece on forced sterilization of disabled women to a NWHN book many years ago. The experience of meeting and learning from Dr Helen Rodriguez-Trias and Judy Norsigian and others shaped my personal and professional life. Thank you.
A trusted female friend of 50 yrs/ posted your plight. Sounds so sad – you folks also , about 50 yrs . Just too many charities and the like . Groups should combine with each other . So , each wouldn’t need all those paid jobs . What a waste or gold mine – redundant.
Please reconsider! It’s not too late! I can well understand how you’ve gotten to this point of closure, but we’re at a flash point in the recognized need for this book, the stance you take toward bodies, sexualities, healthy relationships – in schools especially. I work as the Exec Director of a nonprofit that supports opportunities at our local 2000-student public high school and I believe there’s a deep need for not only the OBOS learning space but in the parent, middle school, and high school communities all over the place, regarless of race, ethnicity, gender identities. Everywhere I’ve been recently women, from current college students, to we older folk, to educators, are bemoaning the loss of Our Bodies, especially because yes, there’s stuff out there, but nothing quite like Our Bodies to take your place. Please contact me, anyone reading this, about any kind of discussion that looks at next steps for those of us who want to continue all you’ve given us and take things further.
Your book(s) have meant the world to me. Wish this didn’t have to end. THANK YOU
As you have ceased publication, would you consider making the contents available to the Gutenberg Project? This would help ensure it’s continued availability.
Wow. As a young woman in the 70s, this book was my Bible, as it was for my whole generation. It taught me what I could not find out anywhere else. It helped me become a better advocate for my health. Thank you for all you have done. I’m sorry you have to take these steps because if still believe your work is as needed as ever.
The contributions that “Our Bodies, Ourselves” has made to millions of women are simply invaluable. You have revolutionized women’s health care in the U.S. by encouraging women to take charge of their own health care decisions, to advocate for themselves and to educate themselves! I cannot praise your work highly enough and as a women’s historian, I have used it in my teaching as well as a reference for my family. The Boston Women’s Health Collective deserves all of our gratitude. Thank you, too for sticking with the project and updating your work in such a timely fashion.
I am so sorry to see that it is time to stop publishing Our Bodies Ourselves. I purchased MANY copies over the years for myself, my two daughters, and their friends. Copies kept “disappearing” from my bookshelf :>)
Thanks for all you have done for women my age (70) and younger. It made a world of difference and will continue to do so.
No please! This book is so very important. This book was critical for me in teen yrs, as a young mother and now even to my teen sons who’ve read it. Until womens bodies, sexuality and struggles are no longer whispered in hushed tones, regulated and restricted by governments, this book may be the only source young womem have. It was for me. I didnt even know about my body or why I had a period till I read this book.
The legacy of Our Bodies Ourselves will live on forever. Think how you changed the world! Congratulations to all who took such risks over the years and always trusted women.
I am now 50 but OBOS was so important to me as my primary resource in my teens and early 20s. It influenced many of my decisions personally and politically. When my mom was 50, I gave her Ourselves growing Older. Thank you!
I am one of the readers of the 1st edition. A small group of us lesbian feminists in Lexington KY even offered a workshop. To our relief I think, no one new came.
Thank you for the years of sharing information and awareness.
I am so sad to hear that “Our Bodies Ourselves” will no longer be updated. This was such a fantastic resource for me, from my teens and now into my 40s. Even though much of the info was US-based, there was enough for me to get the information I needed. You are a reliable, consistent, relevant, and valid resource for women, compared to some sources for women’s health information, and an empowering feminist voice. It’s disappointing that future generations won’t have the up-to-date information that this book has provided, and the support and voice it also gave to so many.
I will miss Our Bodies Ourselves.
Nova Scotia, Canada
Upon hearing this news I immediately went out and bought the newest edition as well as the oldest one I could find. I gave my first copy away to a friend years ago as I had read it cover to cover several times and knew it would be useful to her. As I read my newer copy today I was moved to tears by how inspired I feel by this radical creation of connection and empowerment. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the invaluable and nonjudgmental information you provided for generations of women.
We love you. We’re very grateful. And we will never, ever forget you, not as long as we live.
Understandable that you are changing your focus. Education and advocacy are desperately needed these days. Five years ago, I founded Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights, nicknamed, GRR, with a group of women who remember those days when abortion was illegal and access to contraception restricted or even illegal for unmarried women. We have made an impact in our home state, Maine, and have requests from other states to join us. We are united in our determination NOT to go back, and to fight forward so that all women and men will be able to exercise their right to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion. We can be contacted at email@example.com.
Times change. I trust that the women close to the decision did the right thing. Advocacy focused on medical education and training and research is much needed.
My early 70’s OBOS edition answered questions I didn’t even know enough to ask. It was my companion as I shared information with college roommates and taught run-away teens. My sister asked me to answer her children’s questions and I shared it with them. I just ordered three copies for my great nieces. You know your work has changed expectations and lives. It will continue to do that. Thank you for an incredible gift. Be well and soak up the love. sent your way.
I read OBOS in 1976 and it inspired me to become part of the women’s health movement. I went on to establish the North Florida Women’s Health and Counseling services in 1981 in Tallahassee, Florida. Please continue to inspire others to act!
I understand your decision. Thank you for what has been a huge contribution to the lives of millions of women, and best wishes to you all.
When I was young, I learned an enormous amount from Our Bodies, Ourselves, but as I got old I needed a version to help me through the senior years, and there wasn’t one. I’m sad about that.
I am a 34-year-old woman who has relied deeply on your wisdom and expertise for 15 years. Thank you for shepherding generations of women through difficult health journeys. I am deeply saddened that you have had to make this difficult decision. What a loss. Thank you again for all that you have done.
This was a book that shaped my life, and that of my daughters. Surviving an abusive relationship and cancer, I returned to your book time and again for strength, support and solidarity. In the last 15 years that I have rebuilt my life to peace, your book has been of immense support. The proposed change is unfortunate indeed, but I hope it will give rise to new ways of reaching and supporting women and men who want to change.
I would like to be able to volunteer in anyway possible for the group. If there is a relevant person to connect with, I can share my experience of 25 years of working in rural development projects and women’s issues in South Asia and East Africa.
you have been an incredible resource and feminist light for for so many decades. !!!!
[…] efforts, has curtailed any plans for a new edition. Instead, the Our Bodies Ourselves Board plans to work with other organisations that focus on advocacy efforts for health […]
YOU ALL are the best. I have enduring memories of working with you, in the late 70s. I facilitated conversations with women who lived in supported housing in Providence. The basic information was critical BUT most importantly, the trust and shared conversations built connections and confidence.
You have made an extraordinary contribution to women’s health and happiness. I worked with you in the ‘70s, facilitating conversations with women who lived in the housing projects in So Providence. We agreed to host small meetings, with their neighbors, encouraging people to talk about WHAT ever was on their minds. The intimacy was extraordinary. Many sighs, some tears as well as laughter. I bought snacks.