The Cambridge, MA based Our Bodies, Ourselves organisation is at risk of closing. They cite “onsumers’ shift to the Internet, dwindling grants, and the lack of a long-term financial plan” as the reasons for the potential closure. (Article.)
When Our Bodies, Ourselves was published, public schools didn’t have the comprehensive health classes they do today; the stories many women tell indicate that their biology classes didn’t even cover human reproductive biology; and the topics it discussed (abortion, birth control, etc.) were taboo. Of course grants were readily available and many people purchased the book.
Almost fifty years later, support for abortion is on the decline; innumerable forms of birth control are available over the counter; hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding are given to providing women with birth control; and practically every school in America teaches the basics of human reproductive biology (even if they do not teach ‘comprehensive’ sex ed). The White House was lit up with rainbow lights when the Supreme Court mandated same-sex marriage. It’s hard enough to see how Our Bodies, Ourselves is anything but redundant, let alone why people or the government would prop up a small bureaucracy around it.
If the goal was to change the conversation and the culture, OBS won. The downside of ‘winning,’ however, is that they became irrelevant. In fact, much of the screeching about “infringing on women’s rights” (by, for example, suggesting that women are capable of purchasing their own condoms if they don’t want to be pregnant) has nothing to do with the actual policy, so much as justifying the existence of these grant- and donation-supported groups. The subtext is that this group is only viable so long as it is controversial, ground-breaking, and has something to rebel against.