Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Motherhood in Bondage" A compilation of letters from the original desperate housewives and others. . .

I am reading, "Motherhood in Bondage," a compilation of letters written to Margaret Sanger, the woman behind Planned Parenthood.
In my art studies, I have been intrigued by the work of the Second Industrial Revolution and the people who were activists during that time. I love Kathe Kollwitz, the wife who was an artist in Berlin, married to a doctor who treated patients in the slums. It is hard to imagine the depth of poverty in those days, coupled with the lives of the rich who often exploited them.



Today's women take for granted that we can discuss birth control in mixed company and make choices on when to have babies via many means. Margaret Sanger hated abortion, but she also hated to see women stuck in violent marriages where they couldn't leave lest they loose custody of the children they needed to protect, or just kept having them when they were being worn down, one after the other, or there they had to give the babies or children up to orphanges that were satilites of Hell. Margaret lived during the time when husbands could leave their wives with no one running after them with child support orders, and the mothers of their children had no means of support and children were sent at young ages to work to support their families. These letters portray women of the time. Doctors didn't know when women could get pregnant and the prevailing wisdom was that they got pregnant right before or right after their cycles, which got a lot of women pregnant when the doctors did advise them.



Contrary to modern opinions on her, Margaret was not for elimination via sterilization of people more likely to pass on poor genetics or of any race although it appears that she made alliances with people who did this so that she could promote her cause, but was for women making the right choices and being allowed to make the choice to not have children if they did not want to. She thought that we could eliminate poverty by making contraception available to all, rather than looking at a bigger picture of other factors, but in truth, limiting family size was something that each women could in theory do to help herself as much as possible.



She leaned conservative in her beliefs and I think she’d be appalled by how 13 year olds have access to birth control and how with the freedom we have enjoyed that as a society, we forgot about responsibility.


I have been facinated by Margaret's story because I have had a lot of educated women repeating stories about her, taking quotes out of context, and in general bashing her. Like anyone, Margaret Sanger was a complicated person and it is impossible to define her based on portions of what she has said or of her affiliations.


While she was an atheist, I believe that Margaret Sanger (who was open in her monogamous relationships) rejected God because she saw religion as a way of controlling women and removing their free will, justifying and tolerating their subjugation. Her being open was her making her own choices because she could. . . since she had her pills. I believe that in spite of her not so good qualities that God believed in Margaret Sanger. Maybe she isn’t one of His saints sitting close to Him in Heaven, but her heart was for educating women and helping them and for letting them rise to have other opportunities. A woman with her means and education could pretty much have done as she pleased.

2 comments:

Ropi said...

Well, the Second Industrial Revolution brought a lot new not only in technology but in art as well.

Her name is so familiar to me. Where could I have heard it?

Tea N. Crumpet said...

Americans twist Sanger's ideas and protest her like crazy and her name came up durring Roe v. Wade's anniversary.