Who’s your women’s health hero?
Our Bodies, Ourselves has created the Women's Health HeroesAward and is seeking nominations! I'm so excited about this opportunity tocelebrate the activists I admire and to learn about the women whose work I'mnot yet familiar with.
The original members of the Our Bodies, Ourselves collectivewould be high on my list of nominations. I wrote my dissertation on theAmerican women's health movement and spent many months poring over theirorganizational records, so I feel like I know them all personally, havingdeciphered their handwriting, seen their notes and doodles, and followed theirimpassioned debates as they created this groundbreaking women's health resource.Their work has changed the world to such an extent, enabling girls and womenaround the world to feel at home in their bodies, that it's hard to believeeven they once felt such alienation from their bodies that they titled theiroriginal publication "Women and TheirBodies".
Fwiw, of the twelve incorporating members of Our Bodies,Ourselves, nine were Jewish, including Esther Rome, Paula Doress-Waters, andNancy Miriam Hawley. I've written elsewhere about some of the reasons Jewishwomen were disproportionately represented in Second Wave feminism, and somedayI hope to address this same question about Jewish women's health activism inparticular. I used to muse about this with Barbara Seaman -- another of my otherwomen's health heroes. As a journalist, she took on the medical establishmentand the pharmaceutical industry, demanding that they take women's reports oftheir symptoms seriously and that they provide patients with completeinformation about the risks of estrogenic drugs. Her first book, The Doctors' Case Against the Pill,launched Congressional hearings about the safety of the birth control pill in1970 and ultimately resulted in an FDA warning to users of the Pill -- thefirst warning label for any prescription drug.
From what I can tell, this new award seems geared towardliving activists, so Seaman is sadly not eligible for nomination. Neither isbreast cancer activist Rose Kushner, about whom I've written on this blogbefore. But every woman who speaks out about her disease and demands informedconsent in treatment honors Kushner's legacy.
So who would you like to honor? Share their stories in thecomments section and nominate them for the Women's Health Heroes award!