Our Bodies, Ourselves, first published in 1970, prompted dramatic changes in the treatment of women’s health issues. Journalist Lee Cullum will moderate a discussion of the book’s long history and its continuing relevance.
The Library of Congress in 2012 named Our Bodies, Ourselves to its list of 88 books that shaped America. Norsigian was author and editor for each of the nine editions of the landmark book on sexuality and reproductive health. A new and revised edition published by Simon & Schuster in 2011 received critical acclaim, including being named one of the best consumer health books of that year by Library Journal.
Norsigian served from 2001 to 2015 as executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves, a nonprofit, public interest organization that develops and promotes evidence-based information on girls’ and women’s reproductive health and sexuality. She continues to advise the Boston-based organization.
“No American woman has been more persistently involved in making available women’s health information,” says Bonnie Wheeler, SMU professor of English. “For the past 50 years Judy Norsigian has been a powerful advocate for women.”
The first edition of the book, a 195-page book printed on newsprint and bound by staples, was the result of a discussion at a 1969 women’s liberation conference at Emmanuel College in Boston. The book was republished in 1971, becoming an underground success with its radical context challenging the medical community to change and improve women’s health care.
In 1972, the authors incorporated as the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (now called Our Bodies Ourselves) to negotiate the first commercial version, which was published by Simon & Schuster. Since then, nine editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves have been published in 30 languages.
The event is sponsored by the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute and the New Feminist Discourses and Social Change research cluster.
— Written by Nancy George