Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Rite of OBOS

Last night one of the co-founders of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective visited campus and I went to hear her presentation. On my way in, I bought the most recent copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves (I already own three other editions, including two from the 1970s). Judy Norsigian's talk romped through a host of women's health issues -- troubling practices that persist despite ample research to the contrary, the power of drug companies, global issues, cultural issues... It was a powerful testament to the continuing need for advocacy work around women's health -- the impetus for the creation of the Boston Women's Health Collective in the first place.

After the talk, I asked Norsigian to sign the book for E. When E found the book on her bed tonight, she was initially deeply skeptical based on its pink cover (as was I, I must admit). Then I told her the story of how this book came to be and how it has been updated, translated, and disseminated around the world. She got much more interested. I told her that this book was political, that it represented important advocacy work that had drastically changed women's relationship to the health system in this country and was continuing to do that even today. She thanked me for the book -- and really seemed to mean it. I told her that her grandmother had given me an earlier copy of the book many years ago, but this one was hers...and I showed her the inscription. "She signed this for me?" she said excitedly. She loved it.

Then I told her that some of the book would probably not be of much interest to her right now -- like the section on menopause. At the mention of menopause, she told me to leave but I kept going and told her there were other sections that would be much more relevant... just then I leafed past the "teens and birth control" section, which I mentioned might be of more interest. She did not tell me to leave then, but I left anyway. I had said what I wanted to say. And when I peeked in later, she was contentedly curled up on her bed with her dog, reading away.

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