40 years old! It's hard to believe that 40 years ago, a group of women got together and wrote a small pamphlet which helped alter women's awareness of their bodies.
Titled appropriately Our Bodies, Ourselves, this booklet dealt with subjects that were taboo in the early days of women's liberation. It talked about human sexuality in frank straightforward terms. It gave detailed descriptions of the types of birth control available. And it used rudimentary drawings to show female anatomy.
Hard to believe that such information was revolutionary, but it was. I bought one of the first versions of this booklet--a newsprint paper version that did not hold up well to constant consultation. Then I got an upgraded version with a more substantial cover that helped the book weather all the use.
I soon got one to give to my sister, who is 12 years my junior. As I recall, my sister took her copy and disappeared into her bedroom for hours. Since at that time, she was a teen, no doubt she too was learning things she had not known about her body, herself.
When I had a daughter, and when she was a preteen, I gave her a copy. She too took her copy and disappeared into her bedroom for a time.
One of the things my parents did absolutely right in raising me was to always be very straightforward when it came to talking about human sexuality. This booklet was written in that same vein--straightforward information. Truth is always better than myth.
As our children were growing up, my husband and I likewise were very straightforward with them. Inevitably, both our son and our daughter, as they grew up, asked the inevitable questions: "How did I get to be born?" Many parents have that experience--it is even the subject of comedy. Mothers or fathers tongue-tied, unable to tell their children in direct language about human sexuality.
Well, that was not us. We always used correct terms, completely avoiding euphemisms. I recall one day when a neighbor several houses up the street from us asked me if we had told our son "about sex." Of course, I said, why? Because, she said, their son (about the same age as our son) had asked them something he learned from our son. Well, I said, haven't you talked with him? Oh, no, she said, he's too young. My response--if he's asking his friends, he's not too young.
So, many many thanks to the women of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective. I just hope that we don't lose all the gains of women controlling their bodies, their selves, in the next 40 years.