Women Studies: OBOS
Women Studies: OBOS
Nowadays, there are thousands of organizations throughout the world that focus on various activities and facilitate different changes. Numerous popular international organizations protect human and animal rights around the world as well as the rights of disadvantaged communities, whereas others focus on environmental and health care issues. One of such organizations, Our Bodies, Ourselves (OBOS), has a goal of improving the woman’s health throughout the world. Founded in Boston as a local nonprofit organization, OBOS has gradually expanded its impact throughout the world. One of the primary methods for it to change the world is the publication of books devoted to the contemporary problems of women’s health, rights, and other issues. Being feministic by nature, OBOS has intensified public women’s health movements in the world and improved the health outcomes for women living in different communities. The positive effect of OBOS around the world is associated with multiple sociological concepts, which suggest that the introduction of such issues as sexuality, erotic, gender, and others has contributed to the transformation of a struggle to protect the biological concept of woman’s health into an international socio-political and feministic movement.
The Origin of OBOS
The case of Our Bodies, Ourselves is an example of how a local Boston nonprofit organization has become a voice of women of the world protecting their health. Founded in 1973 as Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, a group comprised 12 women intended to write a book that had to increase the public awareness of the issues related to women’s health (Toussaint). In 1979, the organization transformed into Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS), becoming a major movement struggling for the women’s health in the world (Toussaint). With time, a small nonprofit organization has grown into a powerful movement that strives for numerous health-related outcomes for women in the world. Therefore, different feministic organizations have presumably considered the agenda and experience of OBOS for pursuing its goals not related to the domain of human health.
According to different theories, the evolvement of organizations similar to OBOS has entailed the introduction of such topics as gender and sexuality to the public discourse. For example, it has been a common practice for the society to refer to gender as female on the basis of stereotypes that inborn gender dominates over sexuality, whereas the topic of sexuality has not been addressed (Manalansan). However, in recent decades, scholars have approved that sexuality is disciplined by various social institutions and practices that tend to normalize heterosexuality and other issues related to family, marriage, and biological reproduction of individuals, who deviate from previously adopted norms (Manalansan). The evolvement of OBOS approves this idea, as its founders realize that women in different communities suffer from diverse misjudgments and prejudices that prevent them from accessing adequate health care services. Consequently, they have initiated the movement resisting these adverse impacts at local and global levels of social and political interaction. Some scholars characterize such spread of the impact of sexuality resisting the traditional societies as “sexual migration” that crossed different international borders, expanding the influences related to biological and sexual issues (Manalansan, p. 225). In most cases, this migration has led to initial social and political changes at the local level in different countries, whereas the activists have united in international groups such as OBOS.
Tasks, Goals, and Methods
Nowadays, the actions of OBOS are mainly directed toward the increase of women’s agency regarding their health achieved through information support and education. In order to achieve this goal, the organization sets different tasks related to the creation of education sources, mainly books. So far, OBOS published several books related to different aspects of women’s health and distributed them in different communities of the world. Experts claim that a unique approach of OBOS is that it provides cultural adaptations of its books, which is why every edition of their books is relevant to specific political and social realities (Toussaint). In these adaptations, the organization explains different concepts such as the phenomenon of a woman body and becoming, sex and gender, sexuality, and other issues. By spreading this information in different communities, the organization increases the awareness of the women of the world about their difference from men in different social and biological contexts, their position in the society, and others. As a result, public health issues related to women in different countries have gradually improved, as they have become active facilitators of the change at the local level.
Among other approaches, the main method used by OBOS has been the dissemination of valuable theoretical and practical information related to women health. From the perspective of feminist travelling theory, the methods of OBOS include not simply writing popular books, but a unique knowledge practice that has expanded to transnational cultures and facilitated positive changes (Davis). A specific feature in this process is that OBOS places a human body in the center of public health discourse. Moreover, the activists of OBOS had to adapt not only general terms but also deep philosophical concepts that were often associated with prejudices. Criticizing the ideas of biological determinism, dualistic thinking, and essentialism, the organization broadens the subject of women health by resisting purely biological approach to the difference between men and women (Davis). This shift of the public mind has allowed the organization to change the social opinion regarding the topic of the importance of access of women to health care services that take into account their physiological and mental needs. Consequently, the activity of OBOS have brought different positive changes related to woman health and well-being in local and global communities.
The theoretical basis for OBOS to have the abovementioned goals and methods is associated with the global recognition of such concepts of sexuality, identity, globalization, and other, which led to the formation of the feministic movement and its spread around the world. Experts presume that this process had at least three stages, during which the idea of asexuality transformed into the ideas of feminism and intersexuality and, finally, combined with the sphere of political economy (Gamson & Moon). This idea explains the transformation of OBOS from a small group of women that wanted to improve health outcomes for the women of Boston into a powerful international feministic organization. For example, initially, Boston Women’s Health Book Collective was focused on a concept of health, and it gradually transformed into health-related feminism. Finally, the concept took the form of political feminism that protects women’s rights not only in the health care sector but also in community health and well-being domains.
Finally, experts offer the theoretical explanation of the efficacy of methods selected by OBOS, which is grounded on the impact of the sociology of culture. The activists of OBOS bring a cultural critique to economic metaphors and ideological ideas about sex, monitor the transmission of sexual schemas in the health care sector, and internalize new sexual schemas for the protected ideas to seem natural and intrinsic (Moon). The most important effect of such strategies is that the power of sexuality starts working through the culture, which is possible due to different regional adaptations (Moon). Therefore, the adaptations of the ideas of feminism in health care spheres of different countries by OBOS leads to the fact that some of their ideas have a partially modified look in view of a region where the organization works.
The outcomes of the activity of OBOS are various, but they closely associated with such activities as the popularization of knowledge of a woman’s body and various biological, cultural, social, and political contexts related to it. Nowadays, OBOS is a powerful international group that has support in approximately 29 languages that oppose social and political isolation of women in different communities that adversely impacts woman’s health (Toussaint). Moreover, the organization has improved the aspects related to sexual and reproductive rights of women in different countries, maintaining the social change and opposing the resistance of various social and political forces (Toussaint). Consequently, the methods employed to achieve the tasks set by OBOS can be characterized as effective.
One of the examples of the global impact of OBOS is its effect on women’s health in India. Although the organization was founded in the US, the knowledge spread by it reached India and was a stress to its community due to the fact that OBOS informed it of the issues related to human sexuality and gender. As a result, it became critical for locals to review the clash between the new knowledge and the old system of the power of kinship and casts in order to grant the retention of women’s rights (Bhaskaran). Due to this change, the women of India have experienced a positive change of the community related to such health issues as the problem of HIV/AIDS, the access of women to health care services, and others (Bhaskaran). Finally, observing the positive impact of the activity of OBOS, different people throughout the world started founding their organizations for the protection of the rights of women, animals, and nature among others.
The most powerful facilitators of the change for OBOS were their books that gave the possibility to propagate the ideas of this organization in local and global communities. During the process of “global localization”, the books were translated and adapted to the needs of the local markets located throughout the globe (Davis). This is why the book-related issues for OBOS is the case of how book translation projects became feministic projects on the basis of an international collaboration. Certain experts characterize this effect of the use of erotic as a power, as this concept was mainly a sign of female inferiority, whereas women often suffered due to its existence (Lorde). Therefore, the activity of OBOS led to different positive outcomes in various societies, resolving numerous women’s health issues in the world by feministic agenda setting and dissemination of knowledge.
Founded as a local group that pursued the improvement of women’s health in the US, OBOS has transformed into a global nonprofit agency that facilitates positive changes related to women’s health in different societies. The main goal of the organization is the improvement of women’s health issues by empowering females with critical knowledge of their social, political, and cultural status. In order to achieve this goal, OBOS disseminates knowledge related to gender, sexuality, and health overall by publishing books and adapting them to the cultural and political realities of different countries. As a consequence, the worldwide community of women develops critical agency required for the improvement of its health as well as other issues related to community health overall. Experts argue that the transformation of this organization into a form of a socio-political power has become possible due to the enhancement of the public discourse with the concepts of gender, sexuality, erotic, and others. Their acceptance by the public has helped the activists of OBOS to fight for the rights of women in different countries such as India where the traditional social system has been adversely impacting the health of the female citizens.
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