I shiver when I think about it. When just the suggestion of knowing what one’s own body looked like was enough to send Falwell and his ilk to the airwaves, denouncing the book. And it did too. In one passage the book directed women to place a mirror on the floor, stand over it/ sans panties, and look at themselves. Radical, that women should be encouraged to know what their genitalia looked like. According to the Moral Majority it threatened the very existence of the United States. Funny how anything promoting and encouraging female empowerment is viewed that way.
“Our Bodies, Ourselves” was frank, to the point, and it didn’t mince words. It was ground breaking, radical, hailed and denounced! It was scandalous! Imagine telling a woman that she was in charge of her own body and not to blindly accept what a doctor a pastor etc. told her, but to ask questions. It talked about relationships (straight and lesbian), the here-to fore-only-“bad”-girls-have-one; female orgasm, it encouraged sexual pleasure and sexual health, reproduction education, mental health, to ask questions and to know themselves, both physically and mentally.
Sex wasn’t just to be fun for men it said, it was supposed to be enjoyable for women too. In many places it was a banned book, so naturally I bought one.
It told us that we were not, to use Pseudo-Adrienne's term, “birthing chattel”. We had rights, we had a voice. The Seattle Times notes “under the prevailing medical wisdom in the late 1960s, nurses whisked newborns away from their mothers without giving them a chance to bond and doctors customarily banned fathers from delivery rooms.” Our essence, being and even our medicine was dominated and defined by men.
Unfortunately some things haven’t changed. But the anti-women, forced pregnancy organizations and those who support it, want to not only end abortion, but also end education about our sexual health and contraception, and even contraception all together. (I secretly wonder if they will force me to reverse my tubule legation. )
But while some see this as a war on sex, or even a war on fucking, it’s not. Sure, making contraception illegal removes sex for pleasure, even among married couples, but it does not seek to prohibit a man from enjoying sex. The very same people, churches, sects, organizations that want to end contraception are the very same that tell a woman that she cannot refuse her husband and be a “Godly wife.”
So while the result of this retrograde abomination may make condoms more difficult to get, the end results falls harder and squarely on a woman’s shoulders. Men can always walk away, and without strengthening and aggressively going after dead beat dads, it would seem to encourage this result.
Eve’s curse or man’s folly? Are we going to roll backward even more? With this current crowd in power and our guard let down, the answer may be "yes."
Before that happens we should make sure that every public library has books on women’s health, and that they are not removed by the anti-women abstinence only crowd, we should make sure it is translated in as many languages as are spoken in the United States, and we should educate the younger generation about what it was like way back then, when we were kept from knowledge, from controling our own bodies our own destinies.
For it seems history is want to repeat itself.
- New edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" updates the groundbreaking feminist book
- The War on Contraception and Women's Sexuality -- Pseudo-Adrienne
- The War on Peons Fucking -- Pandragon
I will take issue with the Seattle Times “Still, many pages in "Our Bodies," carry a vestige of its counterculture origin. For instance, the section on menstruation touts old flannel shirts and T-shirts as economical alternatives to tampons and pads” One wonders what the writer, Kyung M. Song, thinks women did at the turn of the last century. My grandmother, like her sisters and mother, used towels. She said it made them “waddle.”