Our Bodies, Ourselves
& Reproductive Justice
Grade Level: Grades 10-12
Estimated Time: One class period
In the early 1970s, Boston feminists established a collective to teach themselves and other women about their bodies. Their path-breaking book Our Bodies, Ourselves is now published in 30 languages. In the same era, the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade guaranteed a woman’s right to have an abortion. In the early 1990s, Black women health activists began organizing around the concept of Reproductive Justice, which connects reproductive rights and social justice. Reproductive Justice is defined “as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” (http://sistersong.net/reproductive-justice/)
In this lesson, students will trace the history of the women’s health movement to understand how the movement connects health care and social justice issues.
Nancy Hawley reminds us that in the early 1970s, “there were no books written by women about women’s sexual experience.”
Excerpt from “A Moment in Her Story: Stories from the Boston Women’s Movement,” a film by Catherine Russo. (Running time 2:29) Used with permission. The complete film is available from Catherine Russo Documentaries.
Students will be able to differentiate between different activist approaches.
Students will be able to chronologically locate key individuals, organizations, and events.
How are health care resources developed and distributed?
What are the relationships between health care, the law, economics, and social justice?
Warm Up Activity: Mind Map and Discussion
Divide the class into pairs. Hand out two Mind Maps to each pair or each student.
Have the pairs work together to associate words with the term “Justice.”
Then have the pairs work together to associate words with the term “Health.”
Bring the class back together and discuss their word associations.
Tell them that they will be exploring the women’s health movement, which seeks to enhance the economic, social, and political power and resources of women and girls so they can make healthy decisions about their lives.
Main Activity: Research, Chronology Exercise, and Discussion
Divide the class into four groups and have students go to Click.
Tell the students that they are going to create a Timeline of Women’s Health Issues and Activism. As the students adjust to looking at Click, prompt them with the following guiding questions:
How did the women’s health movement develop over time?
Who are the activists?
What was the government’s role?
What are the major events?
Have the students use the search box at the top right of the home page to search for “reproductive justice,” “reproductive health,” and “women’s health.” The results will not be in chronological order (and there will be duplicates). It is their task to create a chronology.
When each group has completed its chronology, bring the class back together. Tell the class that they will now work together to make sure the class has as full of a chronology as they are able to create from the timeline entries.
Have a member from one of the groups read the first two entries. Then have a member from the second group, and so forth, read two more entries. The students should come to an agreement that they have a full chronology.
Have the students return to their groups to read “The Women’s Health Movement” section in the Body & Health chapter.
Have them highlight terms in their chronologies that are discussed in this reading.
Have them discuss the differences between their chronologies and this reading.
If there is time, have them write a summary of what they have learned.
Bring the class back together to answer their questions about the chronologies and the reading.
Return to the guiding questions to focus the discussion.
If there is time, have them discuss what more they would like to know about the women’s health movement.
Extension Activity: Film Viewing and Discussion
Have the class watch the clip from “A Moment in Her Story: Stories from the Boston Women’s Movement” (2:29 min.), also located near the top of this lesson plan.
Common Core Anchor Standards
Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Speaking and Listening
Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
You will find unique content in each chapter’s timeline.
Place the cursor over the timeline to scroll up and down within the timeline itself. If you place the cursor anywhere else on the page, you can scroll up and down in the whole page – but the timeline won’t scroll.
To see what’s in the timeline beyond the top or bottom of the window, use the white “dragger” located on the right edge of the timeline. (It looks like a small white disk with an up-arrow and a down-arrow attached to it.) If you click on the dragger, you can move the whole timeline up or down, so you can see more of it. If the dragger won’t move any further, then you’ve reached one end of the timeline.
Click on one of the timeline entries and it will display a short description of the subject. It may also include an image, a video, or a link to more information within our website or on another website.
Our timelines are also available in our Resource Library in non-interactive format.
Yellow bars mark entries that appear in every chapter
This icon indicates a book
This icon indicates a film
The idea of the “Click! moment” was coined by Jane O’Reilly. “The women in the group looked at her, looked at each other, and ... click! A moment of truth. The shock of recognition. Instant sisterhood... Those clicks are coming faster and faster. They were nearly audible last summer, which was a very angry summer for American women. Not redneck-angry from screaming because we are so frustrated and unfulfilled-angry, but clicking-things-into-place-angry, because we have suddenly and shockingly perceived the basic disorder in what has been believed to be the natural order of things.” Article, “The Housewife's Moment of Truth,” published in the first issue of Ms. Magazine and in New York Magazine. Republished in The Girl I Left Behind, by Jane O'Reilly (Macmillan, 1980). Jane O'Reilly papers, Schlesinger Library.