Read The New Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women by Boston Women's Health Book Collective Online


The 20th-anniversary edition of the book hailed as the "most important work to come out of the women's movement" (Ellen Frankfurt) contains updated information on breast cancer, AIDS, and other vital contemporary health concerns. Illustrations throughout. Index....

Title : The New Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780671791766
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 751 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The New Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women Reviews

  • Allyson
    2019-04-06 08:22

    Our Bodies, Ourselves by The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, claims to have “served as a way for women, across ethnic, racial, religious and geographical boundaries, to start examining their health from a perspective that will bring about change”. This may ring true through most of the chapters in this text. However, on the topic of abortion, a political firestorm against religious fundamentalists and anti-abortion groups is unleashed. Unplanned pregnancies follow birth control methods, and sexually transmitted diseases, appropriately. Only seven pages are devoted to making a decision. Brief entries on counseling, adoption, abortion and preparing for the birth are the entire contents of this section. The following section on abortion rights and methods covers twenty-nine full pages. The chapter begins, “Unless women can decide whether and when to have children, it is difficult for us to control our lives or to participate fully in society”. The author then states that for this reason, “women have always used abortion as a means of fertility control”. My answer – control your sex drive, practice abstinence. Rather inappropriately, the text finishes up with pregnancy and childbirth, followed by growing older, selected medical procedures and the politics of women’s health and medical care. The text spurs on the politically motivated fight for “choice” (i.e. murder of an infant) through and through. Until mainstream feminism can disengage itself from supporting such a horrid practice and battle cry, many women like me will be left disgusted by the one-sided tirades of so-called feminists. Abortion as birth control should not be so commonplace. It should be a last resort and it should not be taken so lightly. In this “choice”, a human life is destroyed – that is the bottom line. Making abortion rights a rallying cry of the feminist movement is a mistake.

  • Adam
    2019-04-07 02:03

    This book taught me why I have hair in all these new places...*edit*Liz wrote this review for me last night while I was napping on the couch. I think she's trying to teach me some kind of lesson about leaving myself logged in to websites when I use her laptop.I've actually never read Our Bodies, Ourselves.Changing Bodies, Changing Lives was my jam in high school. That was the book that taught me why I had hair in new places. It failed to teach me, however, why I couldn't grow a mustache ... a mystery that has yet to be solved.

  • Joy
    2019-04-15 02:19

    When I first encountered an earlier edition this book at the apartment of a friend I was staying at over break in 1984, it was earth-shattering. Birth control! Lesbians! but most importantly, reinforcement of my nascent notions that I as a woman had worth beyond my womb, and that I deserved to control my own body, my own fate. Now I'm looking to it for information on perimenopause and later-life health issues, and it is still an excellent resource.

  • Carrie O'Dell
    2019-04-09 06:06

    Not exactly something you sit down and read cover to cover, but a vital source of information not just on sexulaity and reproductive rights, but on relationships, nutrition, pregnancy, mental health. All my nieces (current and to come) get a copy on turning 13.

  • Jessica
    2019-04-04 06:30

    I bought my first copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves when I was purchasing the books for my first semester's classes in college, and the then-new edition (ca. 1986) was on display for a women's studies class. Part comprehensive reference manual, part DIY health guide, part feminist manifesto (talk about the personal being political!), the book is loaded with useful information about women's physical, psychological, and emotional health issues, interwoven with personal anecdotes. The writers encourage all women to learn about their bodies, to advocate for themselves, and to realize that they are entitled to health and happiness.The book pays particular attention to the health needs of lesbians, women of color, older women, women with disabilities and poor women. It is illustrated with intimate (and sometimes explicit) photos, including some from the original edition in full 70s hippie splendor. But even for women who don't see themselves as particularly crunchy, this really is an indispensable resource for good health information, and as a source of inspiration.

  • Kath
    2019-04-02 08:06

    When I was in grade school around 5th grade, I was befriended by a very nice woman. I was terribly sad and in turmoil but I couldn't talk about things with my mom or my brothers. I met her after befriending her cat. As she got to know me, she went out of her way to be kind. Among the things we talked about was my lack of knowledge about my own body. She shared this book with me. Thank you, Lynn wherever you are.

  • Maya
    2019-03-29 08:04

    I read the latest (21st century) edition and that's the one my review is based on.There were some really helpful things in here: women's personal accounts of their relationship experience, a solid background/history of abortion rights in the US, and some wonderful links to activist and media tools that I found particularly useful.Unfortunately:1) There was no chapter on menstruation! There was one on menopause, and some diseases related to menstruation were listed in the part on diseases, but no regular, straight-up explanation of what a healthy cycle is and how it works. I thought that was a weird thing to leave out.2) Close to the beginning, in the chapter on eating disorders, they write that pornography gives teenage girls unrealistic ideas about their bodies and about sex (they even cite Gail Dines, a notable anti-porn feminist). And close to the end, in a chapter on VAW, they list "sex work" as a form of violence, state that poverty and desperation "undeniable" drive women into the sex industry, and mention that women in porn are frequently raped/abused by bosses (directors). But in the middle, in a part on sexuality, they basically shrug their shoulders on the whole porn question, saying straight-up that one woman's degradation is another woman's fantasy (sic). So basically, OBOS admits that porn hurts women inside and outside the industry, but they refuse to take a stand on it overall because some women have masochistic fantasies.There are many things I could call this kind of thinking/approach; "feminist" isn't one of them. I will keep this brief and say that feminism exists to destroy a concrete system of (male) power; not to make every individual woman feel comfortable about her (bargained, at the expense of her human dignity) place within that broken system. I will let one of my favourite feminist bloggers expand on this point: a book like this with new(er) editions is important, for a number of reasons. But I sincerely hope that earlier editions were more honest about sexuality, and I wish that modern/mainstream feminist stopped trying to reassure women that every single thing they like/do/think/get off on is feminist just because. It isn't; get over it.

  • Velma
    2019-04-18 04:02

    I've had this book forever, or at least what feels like it: the mid-'80s, at least. When I pulled it off the shelf today to add it here, I was greatly amused to discover, tucked in the back, the syllabus from my 1988 Human Sexuality class in college. Although I am sure that there are more modern, more up-to-date, references on women's health out there, this title remains for me a (no pun intended) seminal work. Because I discovered it when I was coming of age both sexually and emotionally, and because it is written from such an empowering perspective, it will always be a touchstone and my jumping-off point when looking for knowledge about health.

  • Grumpylibrarian
    2019-04-18 03:03

    This book was my mother's subtle way of letting me know it was ok to ask her questions about my ovaries. And I certainly was obsessed with my ovaries back in the day.The best book for female sexuality and anatomy in print. Period. Our Bodies, Ourselves has a liberal agenda - and one that most feminists, or in the case of my generation, post-feminists, and resonates a political agenda that agrees with the morality and sexual health practices of modern women.Excellent.

  • Janet
    2019-04-13 02:07

    This was a classic reference book among my young adult women friends in the 1970's. When my niece started college in the 1990's, I gave her the revised edition. What was so significant about the book in the 1970's is that it predates the Internet. Back then, the authors' provided current factual information on a range of women's health topics that was not readily available from "mom" or older sisters.

  • Maijabeep
    2019-03-30 08:05

    Best book on women's health that I've read. Great resource to have on hand.

  • Carly
    2019-03-27 01:07

    I actually have no idea when I first read this book--a couple to a few years ago, I guess. And yes, I read it cover to cover. It's a great reference to go back to again and again, and the companion website ( is rather helpful too. It has links to all kinds of resources that might otherwise be hardish to find. The reason I thought to mention and review it now is just that I had a few questions that I just kept googling and re-googling only to find no answers at all. Then I take one quick peek at my copy of Our Bodies Ourselves, and lo and behold, my questions are answered simply and fairly thoroughly and in a voice that is empowering. While sometimes it can be a little distracting, I really love how the writers use the words "we" and "us" rather than "you." The language really helps to make the knowlege offered feel more like options to explore rather than a tirade or even just a nudge. At no point while reading the book does it make me think, "Oh this is what THEY say I should do," or "This is what the EXPERT says, so I'll do that." It's pretty inclusive.

  • Kaethe
    2019-04-23 03:15

    Wow. My copy is nearly 20 years old. I feel ancient. An excellent owner's manual to the body.

  • Megzy
    2019-04-10 01:17

    Another book that faced being banned in the United States this year, 2017. I have a strong feeling, they will try again next year due to abortion topic.

  • Lynn Pribus
    2019-04-19 08:14

    This book was nearly shocking in its day. (Especially, I suspect to men.)Explicit. Suggesting women study themselves with a mirror. Telling women they could ask their doctors questions. Addressing sexuality.Now, of course, all this is available on Facebook or the Internet.

  • Aimee
    2019-04-15 01:26

    I was pretty disappointed in this book. There was not as much concrete, everyday, factual material as there was a lot of political ... yapping. Whether I agreed with the particular issue being yapped about or not didn't make much difference, I still found it yappy and unnecessary and felt that the book was marketed/titled in a misleading way.And the overall tone was very annoying, very smug, very self-righteous and also very "if you don't think just like this, you're the enemy." Come on, we're all adults here, aren't we past that yet?In some places it felt almost like a parody, like somebody sat down to satirize "a feminist manifesto on health" and this is what they came up with. But it wasn't funny, less so because it was so in earnest. The personal stories scattered throughout the book didn't sound like real people. They sounded like tropes that got spat out of the Great Cardboard Character Machine, and there was actually little diversity in their thoughts as they expressed them. I hate to use the phrase "liberal bias" because it is so tired and so talk-radio, but that's really what it was. Nowhere was it acknowledged or accepted that all women don't have to think alike if they want the right to call themselves feminists, or even that it is possible and okay to not stick that label on yourself and still hold some or even many opinions that, if you're that much into labeling everything, might be called feminist.In short I think the book was full of itself and not nearly as helpful on a practical level as it thinks it is, or should be.In fact, there was NOTHING in there in the way of purely fact-based information or advice that hasn't already been written up in Ladies' Home Journal, Reader's Digest, or any of a big number of other widely-available magazines.This book was a bait-and-switch, is what it was.

  • Erik Graff
    2019-04-17 04:26

    When I entered Grinnell College a copy of the precursor to what became Our Bodies, Ourselves was placed in front of my door in Loose Hall--and in front of every other dormitory door on campus presumably--along with information about services available from the nearest Planned Parenthood and the Dean of Students' Office. Still a virgin and very, very concerned about sex, I read all the material immediately, finding the booklet more informative than anything I'd ever seen before and appreciating its feminist approach.In subsequent years I've purchased every new incarnation of this book, both for my own reference and for the sake of others. It makes a great gift for both females and males--indeed, so inculturated are many women with its values nowadays that it may be particularly helpful for young men.

  • Michelle
    2019-04-01 07:00

    YES! YES! YES! I have to admit that this is honestly one of the very first books I looked at/read when I was a child (yes, I was advanced). And yes, even though my parents were educational, upfront and honest with me about not only the human body, but also "how babies are made", and sexuality, I still would look at this book. My mom had the very first edition in the early 1970's, and when I was in my early twenties I obtained this edition. It has since been revised as the "new century" edition, which I will eventually purchase as well. This book covers so much information that some people may find hard to ask or embarrassing to find out about. I urge ALL teenage girls and ALL women to please check this book out, and of course men as well!!

  • jolszko
    2019-03-27 07:07

    I haven't really read the new version but have the old. some of the people involved in that book came to our college in the 70's to talk with young women about their bodies. They gave out plastic speculums and showed us how to look at our own cervixes (sp). We even looked at one of theirs! Crazy, heady stuff coming out of repression. I can't imagine that happening on a college campus today.It was a useful handbook for my generation. Many of our mothers taught us about menstruation by passing a book through the bathroom door after we just discovered blood coming out of some unfamiliar place with the advice "read this".

  • Alissa
    2019-04-18 04:08

    i have this one out from the library but i think i'm going to have to buy it and then it will stay forever on my currently reading shelf. it's "progressive" and "liberal" and right now, i think that's wonderful. there's a lot of info in it that felt like 9th grade health class, but there's also a lot of commentary on how our society affects women emotionally and spiritually as well as a lot of practical advice and de-mystification of helpful ways to get out from under that influence. and what can it hurt to have a handy reference for all that stuff that i wasn't really listening to in health class?

  • Angela
    2019-04-23 07:00

    I only read the few chapters that I thought would be about fertility. It had textbook information but too much of a liberal slant and not enough information for those who do want children. No mention of the long- or short-term detrimental physical and emotional effects of abortion and birth control either. The general attitude was very selfish and focused only on the woman, not considering the effects her choices have on others.

  • Caitlin
    2019-04-16 07:10

    Best reference book on the female body you can buy. It covers everything you can think of and does it with a strong feminist/pro-woman stance (including a refreshing take on birth control that points out that the Pill and other forms of hormonal birth control are NOT for everyone, which you don't often hear). I've found myself going back to it again and again for specific questions and issues, but also love just flipping through it.

  • Sade
    2019-04-11 08:27

    This book isn't a traditonal book that you read from cover to cover (although if you did, you would be quite knowledgable!) I personally jumped around to find answers to questions that I could never really get straight answers for. It is quite useful

  • Petra X
    2019-04-17 06:19

    Interesting material that could be presented in an equally interesting manner but isn't.

  • Tammy
    2019-04-26 07:10

    I remember when this first came out, I was in college, and the women on my floor in the dorm just loved it, and so did I. It was amazing!!!

  • Vivacia Ahwen
    2019-04-19 00:24

    A classic! But one must read the ORIGINAL to get the full effect.

  • Janet
    2019-04-17 03:18

    This was a bit radical at the time it came out. For years I would use it as a reference book. I only wish I had kept the original copy.

  • Mae
    2019-04-03 00:20

    Ah yes, this book. Over the weekend (October 2017) I picked up this book again and revisited some of the pages as I faced some ghosts of the past and dealt with some inner turmoil post an encounter I had last week. Mind you, I first read this book in the 80s when I was still in high school - so the trip down memory lane and the reaffirmation of my 'personal-is-political' standpoint was, needless to say impactful. As I shuffled through the pages, I remember how deliciously naughty and liberated I felt back then to actually have a copy of this book. Growing up in an Asian country (never ever talk about sex, do not dare explore your body or let alone ask probing questions!!) and having studied within the walls of an exclusive all-girls school run by can imagine the consternation, the judgement and the “evil-eyes” I was met with as I proudly and rebelliously walked along the hallways of our school clutching this book. I was branded - the liberal in the making or perhaps even the hoochie in our midst! Shame on them!I was always known to be the rebel in our class who defied rules and norms that prevented us from seeking the truth and for vocally standing my ground as I promoted and protected our rights (a deadly cocktail as the high school President who led the 4 year levels in high school!). As a teenager growing up in a repressed society of Roman Catholics, I desperately wanted to help myself, my friends and my classmates to understand what-the-hell-is-going-on with our bodies!! I was very determined to understand my body, its physical changes and the inner turmoil felt as hairs, humps and bumps started identify where the excitement was coming from whenever I had some form of physical contact with both sexes and not feel like I was going to burn in hell for feeling flustered with the encounter! I needed to understand female sexuality and the female anatomy without inhibition nor fear as I explored and asked the hard questions. More than anything else, I wanted to break free from the constricted environment of sex(ual) education (or the lack thereof) where it was not possible to explore and understand our bodies, sex and sexuality without feeling shame and condemnation. I needed a book that would safely help me journey through my changing body, to tame my shocking and yet delicious curiosity about intimacy and slowly guide me through a liberal feminist agenda that would, years later, shape me and help me stand my ground about my body and treat it with respect and love. It also helped me to help my fellow sisters in my country to understand their bodies, to never ever be left feeling vulnerable and ignorant of how powerful we were as women as we grew with our bodies, understood it and learned how to protect it like a temple and not have others invade it without consent. It was essential for me, for be proud as women, to be confident and comfortable with our bodies and never let anyone shame us nor make us feel inferior. To never let other's (slanted) definition or view of beauty ever make us believe that we were not beautiful (more so, to feel secure in the knowledge that their lack of appreciation of true beauty is a painful loss they will bear). To stand with many women around the world who continue to fight against body shaming, who are constantly exposed to sexual harassment and rape, who consistently articulate our bodies, ourselves - our decision, our choice.So yes, back then this book provided me with many answers an exclusive all-girls school run by nuns in a repressive Roman Catholic country could not provide. It helped me back then, and now 30some years later (although some information could do some more updating), it still helps me whenever I go through some ups and downs about my body. At 46, I'm entering another phase with my body, and revisiting this book over the weekend reminded me of many things about my body and how not to feel shame nor be afraid of its changing landscape and the internal struggles that go with it.

  • Heta Rae
    2019-04-27 02:03

    I am told the the _Our Bodies, Ourselves_ books were revolutionary when they first came out about being a book by women, for women, all about women's health. The thing that I find most fascinating is how this book has changed across different editions that I have looked at. For example, in early editions, the section about how to prevent getting raped was all diagrams that showed martial arts moves, and came with the assumption that the most likely rapist was some stranger in a dark alley attacking you. As society has changed, and our understanding of human sexuality has changed, these books have grown to match. The last edition of the book I looked at focuses much more on date rape than stranger rape, for example, and the martial arts moves are gone. I've been trying to gather different editions so that I can see how they change over the years, but I haven't read a single edition straight through, thus the lack of rating. I currently own a 1985 and a 1998 edition. It is unfortunate that Goodreads seems to treat the different editions as the exact same book so that it is not possible to distinguish what edition people are rating!

  • Donna Davis
    2019-04-16 01:10

    When this book came out, it was the first book that was widely available that told women about their reproductive body parts, addressed the miracle of menstruation, and spoke about women around the world who loved other women.All of this is of course ancient history to many. There are loads of books now that will tell a female all about her vagina. There are plenty of frank attempts to inform one about types of birth control. But there weren't back then.There is even a section on how to obtain an abortion and what to expect, but relax; it isn't federally funded.When this came out, I bought a copy for myself and another to give to my best friend. It seemed like a miracle book, just as I was turning twenty-one.Whatever you choose to read (if you are female, or care a lot about someone who is), know that these were the pioneers in talking about the things that were, at the time, not spoken of in polite society.