I spent most of today reading “Woman and the New Race” (1920), by Margaret Sanger. I’ve carried with me certain memories from studying her work in high school and college. I remembered all she did with regards to birth control, but I’d forgotten the magnitude of it upon society in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
I did not remember the squalor that families lived due to having more children than they could feed. Women were subservient to the wishes of her husband; they were the unwilling slaves to sex because they had no say in the matter. The role of the woman was to be the weaker sex; she had no voice in the dynamics of her marriage; she kept the home, satisfied the man, bore children, and “remained a dominated weakling in a society controlled by men (Woman and the New Race, Sanger, M., 1920).”
What ever your thoughts on this matter, in the early days of this century, Margaret Sanger did her utmost to help women break the bonds of excessive child births to become owners of her mind and their bodies at long last.
Women were repressed – they were no more than brood mares. There were so many cases of infanticide. It was constant, tragic, unbearable…. those accused of infanticide were given harsh sentences.
The woman’s suffrage movement had just given women voting rights; she could also now own property and work outside the home, but she still had no control over her very being – her existence demanded she be subservient to sexual needs of the man, which meant she bore children constantly, weakening her body, pushing her into ill health and early death.
Woman’s acceptance of her inferior status was the more real because it was unconscious. She had chained herself to her place in society and the family through the maternal functions of her nature, and only chains thus strong could have bound her to her lot as a brood animal for the masculine civilizations of the world. In accepting her role as the “weaker and gentler half,” she accepted that function. In turn, the acceptance of that function fixed the more firmly her rank as an inferior. (Woman and the New Race, Sanger, M., 1920)
Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, chances are you do not like the reality or the idea of abortion. I surely do not wish abortion on anyone, but I would never want to castigate another woman for making the very difficult and serious decision to abort.
To abort a baby is a terrible and difficult decision for a woman to make. Woman are wired to want children, to love them, and nurture them.
I had a roommate years ago who got pregnant. She was young, unmarried, very little money, and no plans to have a long-term relationship with the man she was seeing at the time. She made the decision to abort after talking it over with her family, who did not tell her what to do, but promised to be non-judgmental and support her decision – to have the baby, adopt or abort. Who wants to make that decision?
I took her to the doctor the day of her abortion.
She came home emotionally drained, in terrible pain, and utterly devastated at the thought of what she’d done, but knowing she had to do it.
She was out of work for longer than a month because she couldn’t stop crying.
No woman wants to abort. And no woman wants to be told she cannot abort.
There have been terrible lies since the misogynist Herman Cain made his ignorant comments about Planned Parenthood, and Margaret Sanger.
People are actually believing that Margaret Sanger was pro-abortion! In fact, she was not.
Sanger’s goal was to end back room $5.00 abortions with the legalization of birth control
We have Sanger to thank for birth control, for men and woman.
Do you remember the Comstock law? She fought against the injustice of the Comstock law and suffered multiple arrests as a result.
Woman’s passivity under the burden of her disastrous task was almost altogether that of ignorant resignation. She knew virtually nothing about her reproductive nature and less about the consequences of her excessive childbearing. It is true that , obeying the inner of their natures, some women revolted. They went even to the extreme of infanticide and abortion. Usually their revolts were not general enough. They fought as individuals, not as a mass. In the mass they sank back into blind and hopeless subjection. They want on breeding with staggering rapidity those numberless, undesired children who become the clogs and the destroyers of civilizations. (Woman and the New Race, Sanger, M., 1920)
What a voice Margaret Sanger has! She writes with both clarity and passion.
There were many things I read, however, that proved to me that we do not learn our lessons well as a nation. That’s a big subject for another time!
Here is the URL of the Google book: Woman and the New Race, by Margaret Sanger. http://books.google.com/ebooks/reader?id=VLHH8qVM0sgC&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&pg=GBS.PA118