Once upon a time, before the advent of Google and WebMD, medical information was dispensed by medical professionals in doctor’s offices. These were dark times, at least if you believe fans of the infamous “women’s health bible,” “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”
The book began life in the late 1960s as a glorified feminist health pamphlet, stapled together and passed around like samizdat by a group of self-described women’s liberation radicals in Boston. The booklet covered topics such as masturbation and postpartum depression as well as read standard fare like the female menstrual cycle. Not surprisingly for a document that emerged out of a consciousness-raising session, the anatomy lessons came with a heavy dose of ideology. The original text begins with an essay on “Women, Medicine, and Capitalism” that quotes Herbert Marcuse—“Health is a state defined by an elite”—and ponders “control and submission” and “alienation” in the doctor’s office.
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