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Margaret Sanger

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Margaret Sanger

"Women are too much inclined to follow in the footsteps of men, to try to think as men think, to try to solve the general problems of life as men solve them...The woman is not needed to do man's work. She is not needed to think man's thoughts...Her mission is not to enhance the masculine spirit, but to express the feminine; hers is not to preserve a man-made world, but to create a human world by the infusion of the feminine element into all of its activities." I am Margaret Sanger and this is how I feel. God put us on this world not to follow in the footsteps of someone else but to create our own. Before I go on and tell you all of my opinions, I must explain to all of you, how I came to be this way. I will explain to you my life story.

I was born September 14, 1879 in Corning, New York. My desire for women to have more freedom began way before the public had ever heard of me. It arose when I was just a little girl. My parents were a great influence on me and very supportive of any decision that I made. My father provided me with all the mental tools I needed for my life to be a success. My father was a radical. He taught me to question everything and stand up for whatever I believed. My mom was a great woman herself. Although she dealt with a lot of children and didn't have a lot of time for each of us, I loved her dearly. My mother had passed away at quite an early age from tuberculosis, which was due to the amount of kids she bore. There were no contraceptives in that day and age. Due to my mothers death it made me come to the conclusion that I wanted to work with pregnant women. I had a need to help women who were either in the position my mom was in, or were just in need of help. In 1896 I attended Claverack College and Hudson River Institute. I then entered the nursing program at White Plains hospital at which time I met my husband, an architect, William Sanger. After finishing the nursing program I obtained a job as a nurse in the ghettos of New York. I dealt with a lot of horrible sights. I saw many women die deaths, which could've been easily preventable. I decided that I couldn't take it anymore when I saw a woman die because she attempted to give herself an abortion. As I thought about the position that I held in the ghettos I realized that the women who came to me where too late. There had to be a way in which I can stop the problem at the source, not when it's the last resort.

In 1912, I wrote a column on sex education for the New York Call, which I titled "What Every Girl Should Know." People were very opposed to me having written this column, but I felt as though women should know what choices they had with pregnancies. Some of the people who I angered most were those of the Catholic Church. Believers of the Catholic religion would follow me and would hold up signs, which read things such as: "you're immoral" and "sinner." I felt that the Catholic Church was doing this out of greed and to keep women suppressed. Smaller families would give the church less of a donation while larger families would be able to provide more money. Churches then decided that this battle with me was doing them no good. They then went to the idea of promoting abstinence, which meant you had to remain a virgin until marriage. At the time at which I was fighting for women's rights the world was battling between modernization and traditionalism. This was symbolic because of the fact that I was rooting for change while others still wanted the traditional methods of life. Most women were on my side because of what my ideas meant. My ideas meant that women were not going to go through all the pain of having so many children while still enjoying the pleasures of sex if they used contraceptives. Women were also now going to be able to have more freedom with accidental pregnancies and abortions. In March 1914, I published The Woman Rebel, which provided women information on the practice of birth control and advocated the use of contraception. Three of my issues were banned. I was also indicted on 9 counts of violating section 211 of the Postal Law. Which meant that I distributed vulgar material.

I was in fear of the government giving me a good amount of jail time so I decided to flee to England using the alias "Bertha Watson." Before I left I ordered my friends and family to distribute 100,000 copies of Family Limitation, which was a 16-page pamphlet that provided explicit instructions on the use of a variety of contraceptives. When I arrived in England I contacted a bunch of British radicals and feminists. I also met a psychologist by the name of Havelock Ellis. This was a very educated man who had very interesting theories on the importance of female sexuality. I



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