1. Health
Trisha Torrey

The Original Women's Health Empowerment - 40 Years Later

By October 30, 2011

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For those of us of a certain age, the book Our Bodies, Ourselves, first published 40 years ago, was part eye-opener, part underground, part cheerleader - and all empowerment.

Eye-opener - because prior to the late 1960s, early 1970s, women didn't talk about being strong, or powerful, nor did many of us try to set our own sails. We lived in a world where most women were sheep, just doing what men told us to do. We aspired to be secretaries and teachers - both of whom played important roles, but weren't leadership roles at all.

Underground - because when the book was first published, it was purchased by many women who hid it from the men in their lives. We shared plenty of conversations with other women, but it took another mindset entirely to discuss it openly with men. Some women didn't embrace it either. I think they were mostly afraid the men in their lives would not approve. They read about being confident, but they just didn't have it in themselves.

Cheerleader - because it was among the first books that actually inspired women to step up, to be authentic, to be responsible for their own futures, to master their bodies and their ambitions and to claim their equal place in the world alongside men. It explained to us why different, but equal, was an important point of view, was do-able, and was rightfully ours.

It was more than a health book. It instigated a shift in our society.

Now, these 40 years later, with this newest 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, it is all that - and more. OBOS is no longer just about understanding our mental and physical health like our bodies, childbearing and menopause. This new version includes chapters about domestic violence, relationships, environmental and occupational health, the politics of women's health and health activism. Further, it has expanded globally. The book is in print and available digitally in 25 different languages.

Contributions, writing, editing and conversations, were made by hundreds of men and women. I'm proud to say I'm among them, having contributed to the chapters on navigating the healthcare system and doing Internet health research. Neither topic which was possible or necessary in 1971. (Begging the question - what topics will be necessary in 2051, 40 years from now?)

Read a review and purchase a copy of the newest version of Our Bodies, Ourselves.

See the feature story about OBOS from the NBC Nightly News.

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Book Cover Our Bodies, Ourselves

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