Sunday, October 2, 2011

Learnin' Stuff

I was at the 40th anniversary party/slash 9th edition book launch for Our Bodies, Ourselves, yesterday. There were a lot of amazing women from all over the world who spoke about their work in women's health as global partners of OBOS.

I was knitting an afghan square, not taking notes, and the event was streamed and will be archived, so I won't say much even though there were many cool moments I could highlight.

One thing that did strike me, and then made me wonder at how striking it was, was Miho Ogino, who edited the Japanese edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves (published in 1988 and now out of print, she said, but not before inspiring many other women's health books), mentioning that, unlike in many countries, there was no religious backlash to the book's content in Japan.

She said this was because Japanese society is not strongly religious, and did mention that there was some cultural resistance, as of course there may be anywhere.

"Imagine no religious backlash!" I thought.

And then I thought how unfortunate it is that the default assumption is that religious figures would naturally object to frank information about women's health and sexuality. Can't have people knowing stuff about stuff.

Speaking of frankness, another recurring theme was how tough it is in some languages and societies to even find words for some of these topics. There might literally not be a word for something, or the one commonly used might be inherently associated with shame or secrecy--obviously not what you're going for when you're trying to present facts about health.

Anyway, a very interesting day.

No comments: