For a number of reasons, I have long had a copy of the book Our Bodies, Ourselves on my bookshelf. It was a bible of women’s health at a time – the early 1970s – when there was a lot of misinformation about the same. I had a lot of women friends who might use it as reference material.
From this PBS story from December 2012 entitled American Voices: Judy Norsigian-
The Library of Congress recently named Our Bodies, Ourselves as one of 88 books that shaped America. It’s had a profound impact on our consciousness, on the ability of women to see the importance of asking questions, not to just take whatever a doctor says.
Back in the late ’60s and early ’70s…there was so little information, even college-educated women knew very little about our bodies, about pregnancy, about birth, about birth control.
And it was out of that dire need to educate ourselves that we created what was a wonderful self-help project. It was simply women coming together, acknowledging our ignorance, and saying, “We’re gonna do something about this.”
As the book evolved over the years, it began to tackle other areas of women’s health. If you’ve ever read medical studies from the 1950s or before, you would notice that most were done on men, and assumed to also apply equally to women. We know now that it often isn’t the case.
In the past year or so, there has been a move to send copies of Our Bodies, Ourselves to members of the United States Congress. Obviously, there is STILL a bunch of misinformation, or disinformation, out there. The prime, but hardly only, example was when then-Representative, and Senate candidate, Todd Akin of Missouri proclaimed on August 19, 2012: “From what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape is] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
From Wikipedia: “Our Bodies, Ourselves was also listed on the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s ’50 Worst Books of the Twentieth Century’. The book’s website saw this as newsworthy and accepted the designation gracefully, even posting the text of the review.”
The 2005 edition, I believe, is the ninth iteration of the book, and there is now a 2011 version; don’t know if there was a version in the interim.
This was, BTW, the book my wife bought for herself last fall, after hinting around about me getting it for her, much to my chagrin. Since I had already purchased it, I gave it to one of my colleagues for Christmas instead, and it was well-received.