Margaret Sanger Exert

Submitted By luna52392
Words: 1081
Pages: 5

“Those Who Don’t Learn, are Destined to Repeat”

During the progressive era, it was illegal to sell birth control, or even sell information about it. Margaret Sanger was a feminist who, along with wanting the right to vote and “greater economic opportunities for women” (Sanger 88), wanted the right for women to make their own sexual and reproductive choices. Despite the law, Sanger openly advertised birth control in her journal The Women Rebel and, in 1916, began distributing birth control to poor immigrants in Brooklyn out of the clinic that she ran. Because of her actions, she was arrested and sentenced to one month in prison (Sanger 88). In 1920, Sanger published the book Woman and the New Race to express her belief that sexual choice was vital to women’s emancipation. One of the exerts from that book entitled “Free Motherhood” gives Sanger’s stance on birth control and her view that without birth control, women, and society, can never, truly, be free. Sanger’s exert consists of five sections. The first section compares the wants and desires of statesmen and nations to those of mothers and women. If statesmen and nations could ever reach their goals and dreams of converting the world to be a better place, it would pale in comparison to the abundance of freedom and power that women would have if they could reach their dreams of control over their own bodies. The second section elaborates on the pain and trials that women have to go though when they become mothers in comparison to the rest of the family. Because women don’t even know about contraceptives, they are bringing children into the world at an alarming rate. When the number of children grows too large, the woman health and well-being are forced to suffer. The man and children will receive most of the food and clothing and relaxation and, in the case of the men, the protection of labor unions. There are no labor unions for mothers. Not to mention the strain that constant childbearing and nursing put on the woman’s body. In some cases, the mother has to work alongside the man to bring in more income, but when the mother gets home, unlike the father who gets to relax, she then has to take care of the house and children. The third section addresses Sanger’s belief that as long as women have no control over their bodies, they can never be free; and as long as mothers aren’t free, then the children they bear can never know freedom either. She also disputes the idea that some women claim to be free due to the wages they earn or their defiance of “the conventions of sex relationship[s] (Sanger 90). Although earning wages does grant freedom, there is no comparison to the freedom of choice over one’s own body. As for those in defiance, if the reason she chooses her partner, or lack-thereof, is because of motherhood, she is still a slave to her body, and does not have true freedom. The fourth section explains how access to birth control will enhance women’s lives and the lives of the family. “Voluntary motherhood” (Sanger 91) will enhance the quality of children that are born. More attentions and love can be given to a few children then spread out among the many. The fifth and final section calls for action on behalf the oppressed women and mother who are kept from the knowledge and access of birth control. During the progressive era, women were not equal to men. They couldn’t vote until 1920, they couldn’t get many jobs outside of the textile industry, and even when they did have jobs their wages were much less than those of men, and they had even less control of their bodies then they do now. What Sanger wanted was what many feminists of the time, and even now, wanted, the same rights and privileges that their husbands and sons and father and nephews and brothers had; including control and freedom of their own bodies. Sanger’s language is very bitter. She seems bias towards women, as can be expected, but she blames all men for