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Boston Women's Health Book Collective BWHC

Our Bodies, Ourselves

In this video

Judy Norsigian & Miriam Hawley on the revolutionary women's health tome, Our Bodies, Ourselves.
The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (now known as Our Bodies Ourselves) is the non-profit responsible for Our Bodies, Ourselves, the revolutionary women's health and sexuality bestseller. The book’s first edition was a 35-cent, 196-page newsprint booklet called Women and Their Bodies, written by twelve feminist activists who met at a women’s lib conference health seminar in 1969. The stapled booklet compiled their research and personal experiences of childbirth, violence against women, sexuality, doctors, and more. It sold 200,000 copies by word-of-mouth alone. Three years later, it became the 276-page Our Bodies, Ourselves, published by Simon & Schuster, and has since sold almost five million copies worldwide, with 26 foreign editions as well as one in braille. The New York Times has called the book, now in its ninth addition, "America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health" and a "feminist classic." And the small, grassroots collective behind it has grown into a strong women’s health education, advocacy, and consulting organization.   MAKERS interviewed Boston Women’s Health Book Collective members Miriam Hawley and Judy Norsigian as representatives of the groundbreaking organization.   Miriam Hawley, organized the original 1969 health seminar that spurred the collective, and became one of the organizations founders and long-standing board members. Hawley is an author, speaker, clinical social worker, group therapist, and organizational consultant. She is currently the CEO of Enlignment®, Inc., a business coaching and consulting company.   Judy Norsigian, also a founder and board member, is currently the Executive Director of Our Bodies Ourselves. She is an internationally renowned speaker and writer on a wide range of women's health concerns, including abortion and contraception, sexually transmitted disease, genetics, and reproductive technologies. She has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs, has an honorary doctorate degree from Boston University, and was selected by Women’s eNews as one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century.”

More From Boston Women's Health Book Collective

Hysterectomies & Twilight Sleep
Before the women's movement, healthcare for women often meant routine hysterecomies, twilight sleep births, and overmedication.

Airbrushed
Judy Norsigian on what the age of cosmetic surgery and airbrushing has done to women.

“Designing a Life”
Miriam Hawley offers her advice on making a meaningful life, finding purpose, and connecting to community.

The Flexible Workplace
Miriam Hawley points to the practical things companies and society can do to make it possible for women, and men, to balance.

Finding Support
Judy Norsigian expounds on the importance of having a community of support as a parent.

The Porn Effect
Judy Norsigian voices her concern that increased exposure to pornography is causing us to slip backwards in relationships.

Ambitious Girls
Miriam Hawley sees in her young granddaughters that ambition is alive and well in girls today.

Critics of Our Bodies, Ourselves
Judy Norsigian describes the religious backlash to Our Bodies, Ourselves and its spectacular success nonetheless.

The Courage to Stand Up
The inspring courage, and frustrating sexism, of the Civil Rights & anti-war movements led Miriam Hawley to women's rights.

Childbirth in the 60s
Miriam Hawley recounts her experience giving birth in 1966, when lamaze was a novelty and women had little control.

Enlightened Dad
Judy Norsigian remembers her progressive father, an Armenian immigrant.

Suburban Silence
Miriam Hawley on keeping quiet about sexism and racism to fit in in her suburban high school, and the political release of college.