Honorable Mentions: OBOS in the News

By Christine Cupaiuolo — April 17, 2007

Referencing our most recent book, “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause,” Jane E. Brody of the New York Times explains that age itself is not a barrier to a lively libido:

In fact, it is rarely age per se that accounts for declines in libido among those in the second half-century of life. Rather, it can be any of a dozen or more factors more common in older people that account for the changes. Many of these factors are subject to modification that can restore, if not the sexual energy of youth, at least the desire to seek and the ability to enjoy sex.

Nor is it just hormones. Addressing only the distaff half of the population, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, in its newest work, “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause,” points out: “Our sexual desire and satisfaction may be influenced by our life circumstances, including the quality of our sexual relationships, our emotional and physical health, and our values and thoughts about sexuality, as well as by the aging process and the shifting hormone levels that occur during the menopause transition.”

“The same, of course, is true of men.”

Brody’s story was part of a package on sexual desire published in the NYT’s science section.

From the other side of the world, writing in The Hindu, “India’s National Newspaper,” Kalpana Sharma laments “the recent decision of the Maharashtra government, which follows in the footsteps of several other State governments including Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat and Karnataka, to ban sex education in all schools.”

She then goes on to praise OBOS extensively for being a “path-breaking” book that can act as a “survival tool” for Indian girls caught in this sanctioned silence.

Sharma also mentions “Taking Charge of Our Bodies,” an English, pan-Indian version of a regional Indian text from the Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies in Hyderabad, “A Hundred Thousand Questions About Women’s Health,” which was inspired by OBOS.

Sharma is indignant in describing the consequences of the ban and eloquent in her argument for the need for openness:

Instead of being open about these issues, in this country we would prefer young people not to know. So sex should not be talked about in school, we are told. And at home? As far as girls are concerned, the norm is to teach them through admonition. “Be careful”, “Look how you’re sitting”, “Is this the way to walk?”, “Behave yourself”, “Cover yourself”, “Don’t be so shameless!” — the list is endless. By being reprimanded, girls are supposed to learn how to protect themselves without ever knowing why or from what. As a result, they grow up being ashamed, confused and uninformed about themselves and their bodies. And are also rendered far more vulnerable.

In this age of globalisation and the knowledge economy, we cannot pull down the shutters and believe that people’s access to information on any subject, including matters relating to sex, can be controlled. Would it not be better to teach both boys and girls about these issues in an atmosphere that encourages them to ask questions and to clear their doubts? How can such knowledge be considered obscene or against “Indian values”?

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