Judy Norsigian, Humanist Heroine Award

Judy Norsigian is Executive Director and a founder, in 1971, of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Forty years does deserve recognition. The BWHBC was responsible for disseminating Our Bodies, Ourselves, a landmark in promoting women’s health, helping women to understand their biology, and liberating them from past cultural norms that were repressive.

Norsigian was introduced by Stephanie Downs Hughes, who said that the book was one of the biggest contributions to the world that the Left has made. I agree that it was a big contribution; but why is this “Left”?

Norsigian’s speech covered a gamut of current issues relevant to women’s health: the increasing role of pharmacology; increasing sexualization of young girls; surrogate motherhood, egg donation, and related issues; and the “medicalization” of female sexuality, including the hunt for a female equivalent of Viagra and the marketing of drugs (which don’t even exist yet) to treat “female sexual dysfunction” (i.e., lower than average libido) as a form of illness. And, she said, the number one health issue for many women in the world is violence.

I mentioned at the outset that not everything said at the conference was to my liking. An example was Ms. Norsigian’s statement that “unlike the U.S.,” Nepal has progressed a lot in women’s health rights. America isn’t perfect, but some on the left seem to wear negativity toward the U.S. as a badge of honor. Nepal has indeed made a lot of progress; but I daresay the average American woman is better off than her Nepali counterpart.



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