by the Boston Women’s Health Collective
“Our Bodies Ourselves” gave women a new sense of understanding and control over their physical and sexual selves. Its comforting and testimonial approach was the epitome of the modern sex guide. The book incorporates images and quotes representing a variety of viewpoints and several clear depictions of contraceptive methods. The book also contained the first graphic depiction of intercourse in a mainstream sex manual and broke visual barriers by including photographs of gay women in its chapters on love and sex, intentionally integrating homosexuality into its discussion of relationships in general.
In 1980 Ruth Bell adapted “Our Bodies Ourselves” to “Changing Bodies, Changing Lives” in order to address a broader and younger audience. This edition’s chapter progression is highly attuned to the chronology of teens’ sexual discoveries and moves from a discussion of physical changes and feelings to “exploring sex with yourself” and ultimately “exploring sex with someone else.”