What email address or phone number would you like to use to sign in to Docs.com?
If you already have an account that you use with Office or other Microsoft services, enter it here.
Or sign in with:
Signing in allows you to download and like content, and it provides the authors analytical data about your interactions with their content.
Embed code for: sixth draft
Select a size
Refining the woman rebel
Margaret Sanger’s self-discovery in exile
december 13, 2012
Margaret Sanger’s road to self-discovery and sexual liberation
magine a husband and wife have just finished their dream home and have officially moved in with their three adorable children. Their home was big and specially designed by the father to accommodate their family perfectly. One happy family all together with their life ahead of them. Ten years down the road, where would that family find themselves? William Sanger would certainly never had guessed the answer for since he had already achieved his dream home with his dream family, the only place to go was old age and grand kids. Instead, everything would drastically change when their home burnt down and he and his wife, Margaret, decided to relocate their family to New York and become involved in the bohemian scene in Greenwich Village. Even amidst the tragedy of their lost home, still no one would have expected that Bill’s wife and the mother of their three children Grant, Stuart and Peggy, would be returning from her exile in Europe where she spent the last year preparing to face the indictments against her for her Woman Rebel rants against Comstock Laws and prudery a nd vehemently advocating the Woman’s
Margaret Sanger was not afraid to be a martyr, nor was she afraid to ‘play up’ her sacrifices to gain recognition and sympathy. A good friend and a fierce enemy. She raised hell to bring heaven, more or less. And as a result, she was revered as well as despised. Sanger had a certain way of accomplishing what she set out to do. There is just not one way to feel or view Sanger. To say the least, she had a polarizing effect on the United States. But her fame and success must be attributed to the person she became after she visited Europe, running from the law. This paper will divide the earlier years of her life leading up to her fame and success and embodiment of the Pioneer of Birth Control into three sections: Before her trip to Europe, her time in Europe, and her return. Such an intriguing, multi-dimensional, effect on history begs the question of what kind of person produced it. She was persecuted, she was hated and she was shunned, disparaged, written off, hushed. But she was successful. This is not a story of an underdog, rising to defeat the big bad guys. Rather, this paper will analyze one particular year of Margaret Sanger’s life that took radical little ruffian and refined her into the powerful woman that would produce such a polarizing effect on America.
Margaret had been to France before, this was not her first time in Europe. It was however, her first time in Europe as a renegade running from the law. It would prove a difficult, occasionally lonely, but educational trip. She would shed her housewife years here, find her freedom and focus her energy and educate her mind. This is not to say that Margaret had no education of birth control methods, no political views or social ideologies before she went to Europe, quite the opposite in fact. But in Europe, she would form attachments, experience new things, and learn more deeply the value of a liberal arts education, and the necessary knowledge of birth control she was lacking before. In Europe, she was able to completely shed her former life. Her former self. She began to live as she had dreamed when a young girl yearning to go back to college. She would make a name for herself. In Europe, she shed the bonds of her marriage to Bill Sanger, she narrowed her focus to birth control, learned the importance of a women’s sexuality and claimed the rights to her own body. Ultimately, in Europe, Margaret became the woman she needed to be to embody her cause and seize her destiny.
Forming an opinion about the dichotomous person that Margaret Sanger was is a wrestle that is sure to keep rolling around in heads for historians and students for years and years. The enormous amount documents she left behind are not as helpful as one would wish. She kept a part of her life hidden away from the world with carefully manufactured memories and fibs that kept her as safe as possible from public scrutiny,. Her autobiographies have been deemed unreliable and her written works bold but then increasingly more mild, and then her correspondence and journal entries at times reveal something entirely different. Most everything found on Sanger is rarely gives a straight forward insight, which leaves her almost entirely open to interpretation. Fortunately, many historians have left their interpretations behind, but just as confusing is the pendulum swing from the historians who wrote right after she passed away and the historians who have written in more current years, and the developing theories which currently are being developed.
Rights movement, and promising contraceptive information.
Something that this paper will endeavor to understand is why Margaret Sanger felt the need to be a free lover. It was something she had already been practicing in Greenwich Village. Her affairs in Europe were not her first. She had a way about her that was very attractive to men, a raw sexual energy and frankness that men found irresistible. Her charms and wit could get her almost anywhere with any one, men and women alike. She married Bill because fulfilled some erotic impulse that she had about her dad. He was so much like him, I guess. But she had already have relations with her other boyfriend Corey. Which this news did not bother Bill at all. But Bill had an ideal for his life that he wanted to achieve, and that ideal was not the same as Margaret’s. She tried to live the calm life, the easy life, but the excitement of life itself called her. She was not happy and felt choked but when their big beautiful house burnt down, she was almost excited to just leave and go back to the city and join the bohemian movement there.
It is clear that Margaret had already felt that she was lacking fulfillment in her life and sought a cause. The way she remembers her own history is a story of meaning and signs telling her where to go and what to do to fulfifll her destiny or some crap like that. From some reason, what was in her life right then would not content her. One must wonder at the childishness of her actions. Certainly she was around thirty three years old when they moved back to NY, but she started up nursing again and Bill painted and they both got politically active. Here, Sanger was exposed to the extreme feminist teachings of Emma Goldman. She also got involved in many other radical groups including that were a deeper shade of anarchist than they appeared. Her new love affairs begged the question: did Bill Sanger sexually satisfy his wife? Or did she need more than him.
Her time in bohemian Greenwich Village among the intense political activism sweeping through the years leading up to WWI certainly had an effect on Margaret Sanger as it re-introduced the conviction and fulfilling nature of a cause that united a people of new ideas together. While Chesler believed that Sanger had a fond association with political conviction and reform because it was a link to childhood and her father’s devotion to his political ideals of socialism. was a fond connection to her youth and father.She had a fond association with conviction because her father was a fervent socialist, who lived his beliefs so thoroughly that he even subjected his children poverty, hunger, illness, danger and ridicule. She admired his conviction, despite the resentment she and her siblings felt for him. She noted her father’s devotion to her mother and vice-ver-sa, claiming it “unusual for that time” because of the friendship between the two of them and the unwavering need to secure his wife’s devotion and her almost immediate forgivingness of his drunken choices which often led to winters without coal to burn or dinners without food. She also wrote about memories where she remembered being the happiest were when her whole family was gathered around along with her father’s friends and took part in discussions and debates, and unsual for many families at the time, her father encouraged each of his children to form their own opinions and be bold enough to voice them. A trait the world came know; a trait that was courageous enough to make that first monumental step towards sexual and reproductive rights for women.
For a time that fire that lit her youth and desire to be apart of the world had been forgotten in the mundane tasks of motherhood for ten years. William was born in Berlin in 1873 and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1878 and he studied architecture and art at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York. William (Bill) pursued Margaret for months until she finally agreed to marry him and after a short engagement, Bill and Margaret were married in 1902. Not long after their marriage, Margaret completely and abruptly ended her nursing career and stifled her hopes and dreams of becoming a doctor. She retreated into middle-class motherhood and over the course of ten years gave birth to three children, Staurt, Grant and Peggy.
Returning to Sanger’s bohemian days in Greenwich Village to briefly summarize the events that led up to the fight or flight dilemma will help to better understand the influences that transformed the drab old housewife she felt she was into the sexually adroit and independent woman she was on her return from across the pond.
She says: “On one of my free afternoons in August, Bill and I went for a drive ,and he suggested we stop in at the house of a friend of his who is a minister. All had been prepared. License and rice were waiting. And so we were married.” In both books she mentions the electricity that surged through the air when they were in a room together which indicates the sexual energy they felt for each other.
The dissolution of the Sanger’s marriage began when they moved to Greenwich. The political and cultural ferment reawakened the youthful spirit that made her so lively and popular in her younger years and helped her work through the disappointments she felt in not completing her education and/or her nursing internship. They were both things she gave up at Bill’s insistence and followed his lead in creating his dream home and helping him live his dream life. Which denotes the major and most important difference between them; they each had different ideas about what they wanted their lives to be. Mr. Sanger became depressed and sad that his dream home burnt down which left him in an incredible amount of debt. He retreated into himself and decided that he wanted to stay at home and pursue his painting career, which meant Mrs. Sanger had to get a job. Resentment and blame hung in the air and they both sensed it. Especially as they both dealt with the impending doom by retreating into separate hobbies and activities. Mr. Sanger retreated within himself and painted while Mrs. Sanger, like her father, escaped to the outside world to “externalize her demons, to subordinate personal malaise to political doctrine and find comfort in the championing of a good cause.”
Margaret Sanger had been to Europe several times throughout her life and made many friends whom she cultivated life-long relationships and found a source of support for a cause she boldy claimed the innovation and leaderhship of in the United States. She would go to Paris for a few months will Bill, but then leave him there as a loosely agreed upon trial separation. A Year later she would finally ask for a divorce. In subsequent years she would return to Europe to visit her friends, study and search for more methods of birth control. She would travel across the world and met many notable people such as Ghandi. She would witness first hand several different lifestyles which would open her mind up to new possibilities. Her later travels through Europe could be seen as more helpful and educational, so why is this ten months she spent in London, France, Spain , and Holland of any consequence? Its not the quantity that really counts, but rather the quality.
There people Sanger meets during her travels this time gave her the direction she needed and the education she lacked and the focus her conviction diffused. This paper will look at the relationships she cultivated with these persons and the ideas they opened her mind to understand. Her departure left behind a three little children, a shocked soon-to-be ex-husband, and a pamphlet with the contraceptive methods she had promised to her readers that would stir up a frenzy of excitement that would bring publicity to the movement that it needed. Thus it will determine the effect her departure had on the movement back home and upon her return; how did her presence effect the movement? This paper intends to examine some of the works of sex theorists such as Edward Carpenter, Havelock Ellis and the various methods of distributing contraceptive information. While she may have encountered these ideas before she went Europe in the salon of Mabel Dodge most likely, the first hand experience and discussions established an authority on the subject on which she gave herself too much credit. Nevertheless, it changed her outlook, and there is always some thing different about putting into practice a theory learned in a controlled environment.
This paper will outline significant events and documents loosely structured around the year Margaret spent in Europe as an exile; life events leading up to her flight as well as her return.
Combing through thousands of documents left behind is a task too great for any one person. Much of this paper derives its primary sources from the undoubtedly tedious, but thouroughly rewarding work of the Margaret Sanger Papers Project which is dedicated to collecting Sanger’s documents from around the world and preserving them on microfilm, organizing them, and returning them. While most of the remaining documents are located at the Library of Congress and Smith College, many letters, notes, diary entries and sources of that nature have been collected by the MSPP and made available to all online through their website. This project has taken many years already and is currently working now to complete it, but has already unraveled a couple mysteries Sanger left unsolved. The MSPP website has a link to their blog with blog posts written by the staff including editor Eshter Katz, and assistant editors Peter Engelman and . The work they are doing is tremendous but incredibly helpful and will continue to enlighten our understanding of the elusive and perhaps misunderstood Margaret Sanger. The papers she left for future generations to sort make the legacy Sanger left difficult to pinpoint because she lived part of her life in secret for various reasons; public condemnation, privacy, scrutiny for her radical socialist and anarchist ideals, crucificion for her sexual life, and fear of failure or loss of her powerful influence and authority she gave up and lost so much to achieve. More about her motivations will be discussed further on, but it is important to remember that the documents, books and biographies written on her while she was alive can most assuredly be certain to have had her hands in them fiddling with the information; omitting or glossing over facts that would have been helpful while also she allowed false, half-truths to be published in these books, most notably Lawrence Lader’s, a former lover, autobiography on her life. Because of the information she fiddled with, many of primary documents lost integrity as any of them could be written aware of the fact that somebody else was going to read them, so she censored herself. However, as it is all we have, we cannot completely discredit what she left behind. Thus historians, students, and history buffs alike are left to evaluate and interpret the validity of the documents used.
The issue arising from interpretation is misinterpretation.. Historian’s interpretations have been as dichotomous and contradictory as Sanger’s “confessions” Most notable between the Margaret Sanger portrayed by Robert Kennedy in his 1977 book ‘Birth Control in America’ and the Margaret Sanger portrayed in Ellen Chesler’s 1997 book ‘Woman of Valor’. Both paint pictures of a woman that one will find he or she will want to believe. Hours have been consumed poring over the claims each author makes and looking into what the experts say is has more validity. Which, in the end is where the decision must be made. Kennedy portrays a selfish, glory-seeking, vain woman who connived her way out of a marriage and into the hearts and beds of men whose exact number may never be known but has already grown since the MSPP began. Kennedy interprets Sanger ‘s autobiographies and recently available, due to her death in 1966, documents with a cynicism and negative view that is sincerely refreshing and tempting to accept. However refreshing and amusing his willingness to call Sanger out may be, it lacks an unbiased positition that suggests the Kennedy, while he said some nice things, may have been from the start hoping to expose her.
The refreshing frank honesty of Kennedy was nothing compared to the scalding reprimand Chesler dumped on Kennedy’s contribution. Those who read it can feel the wrath in her words as she tore his book apart. Contrary to Kennedy, Chesler gives a thoughtful, extensive and thourough research which clearly denote and established one of the first and most valid of interpretations, The MSPP lists this book on their website as such, however, they warn that Chesler’s worthy efforts to weave together a continuity Sanger worked hard to mix up often drowns out the Sanger’s voice with thourough understanding and extensive research. So, her book has been a reliable source to this paper, but the apologist view of Sanger that Chesler portrays can be misleading and reflect the adoration and bordering on idolization that Chesler clings to in her books.
The dichotomy of Sanger’s paper have perpetuated a number of other historical interpretations of varying conclusions, each valid in its own way. Keeping in mind that each work is valid in its own way, I value the importance and depth of interprtattion and authority of each by the date published, the view of the author, and the amount of sources cited asd well as proper citations. Many of these works are a bit out of date, and the more recent biographies and general histories are difficult to obtain.
The date, recipient (if there is one) and the purpose as well as the historical information about what is going on around the author at the time document was written will provide a solid understanding informing historian if it is a valid document to use in backing up argument.ever document analyzed and used to prove a point
NEED INFO ON SEXUALITY AND ELLIS AND CARPENTER
Long has woman been called the gentler and weaker half of human–kind; long has she borne the brunt of unwilling motherhood; long has she been the stepping stone of oligarchies, kingdoms and man–made democracies; too long have they thrived on her enslavement. The time has come at last when she demands her physical and spiritual freedom,–and her liberty.
When woman becomes conscious of her ego, her inner self, then shall she become a pivot in the world’s advanced thought, and shall hold within her hands the reins of human destiny. Those who have opposed her development and progress are simply those who refuse to accept this new Moral Standard for her.
She became a new woman in Europe. She
“When Margaret had returned from her exile across the pond, she began her The Birth Control League and named herself president. Competing with an off shoot organizations and some other prominent and radical figures, Sanger either felt she knew the right way to do make birth control happen or she wanted to make a name for herself. It is possible that she thought since she had to make some extraordinary changes in her life, she thought that she deserved it. Also there was a fiery ambition inside her that grew in hardship, and perhaps in that she became even more embittered by authority. She did not want anybody to tell her what to do, as much as she wanted to tell everybody else what to do .
She returned only to have her heart broken so tremendously by the death of her dear sweet daughter. She retreated into a bitter grief and solititude deeply wounded. Much of the nation was geared up and set for an interesting court battle between Sanger and the law; they were all shocked at the unexpected death of Sanger’s little girl manifest in the letters and monetary support given to her from friends as well as the nation. The public felt for Sanger and her husband, especially as he had been in jail for a crime that the nation was becoming more apt to discuss. Bill Sanger made a stand for women’s rights that finally made a big enough impact on people to pay attention.
To people not living the difficulties the Sanger’s were in the throes of, a few months which may have been closer to year, probably did not seem long. However, to little peggy who constantly asked after her mother and Grant and Stuart who felt left and less important, and then Bill who would do anything to win Margaret back, she was gone far too long. It would have been a difficult year for them. A mother does not easily forget her children. However, in a few of her letter and diary entries she remembered them and missed them, but then as if about to break from the grief of distance, she fortifies her walls and reminds herself that she had an important work to do. And if Peggy’s death was the end of her career, she would not be the notorious person we know today.
Some historians say that she set out to attain the leadership, power and autonomy of being the leader of a movement. She connived, tricked and shafted a host of friends and enemies, switching sides and presenting herself to a world who either hated her or loved her. Evidentially, Sanger did claim creatorship and then ownership of some ideas that were not entirely her own, but perhaps her motives changed and focused over time. Perhaps she just fell into the role that subjected her to ridicule, judgment, rumor and scandal. And since she was already there, she would do what she thought best to do.
Margaret Sanger loved to play hard to get, she did not make it easy for a man to hold onto her.
MS sensed that the radicals may not ever truly be the cause of change, but rather reason. Her time in Europe was during the war. So perhaps she realized that aggression is just not truly the way to go. For she had been so near to where country sides and young men were being mowed down.
The first major step of her transformation was ending her relationship with Bill. “Casting the dye” as she puts it, within the first few weeks of her arrival in Liverpool suggests that she had long been building up the courage to end the relationship, that she had long been ready, but found ‘running from the law’ and her escape to Europe liberating enough to find the courage to end the relationship entirely.
Ruth Brandon analyzes best the full meaning of the separation Margaret needed and also felt in her book called The New Women and the Old Men. Brandon says: “This of course is an observation made before and since by both Americans and British stranded on the wrong side of the Atlantic: the expectations raised by the common language being such that the ‘separation’ of outlook comes as a particularly rude shock. But Margaret was feeling isolated not only from home but from the whole of her adult life up till then.” Margaret’s physical separation from Bill set into motion and allowed her the space necessary to emotionally separate herself from him and find herself again. The woman she wanted to be. The day after she wrote about the letter to Bill she writes: ‘Yesterday I sent a letter to Bill S. parting the ways of our life together. He will not be surprised I know, for the past year he has been prepared for it. Only I am very slow in my decisions – I cannot separate myself from my past emotions quickly, all breeches [sic] must come gradually to me. It took me so long to get a Church out of my system then Socialism—bourgeois Society etc etc so in everything.’
“Clearly, Bill’s continued adoration was by now thoroughly boring. As she had recently said, she wanted new sensations, new romances. As for her children, they’d manage, somehow. She was off on an adventure into a new world, and she was determined to be free to enjoy it. Bill was in the way; he must go.”
“I realize now that this personal love with you no longer suffices & you need the bigger love which will help you in your life’s work. You are to take that love from whomsoever offers it, you say. Your personality belongs to the world. So I realize that the bigger lover is the love that can give you the best of life and I take life to be in your case the help you need to (do) the utmost in the propagation of your creative urge. Who can do that better than I? Who can give you spiritual, intellectual, & economic help? This is the man you want to find. I hold out to you the love which is as big and broad as the very scope of your life’s work….”
London and Love
Shortly after her arrival at Liverpool Margaret made her way to London. On December 10th, she called at the Malthusian League where she met Dr. and Mrs. Drysdale, the leading advocates of Birth control in England. The Malthusian League based its work on the theory of a British economist named Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) who believed that people should practice abstinence or delayed marriage in order to keep population control in check as not to exceed the food supply. The Drysdale’s and other neo-Malthusians during this time instead of abstinence or delayed marriage, advocated the use of artificial contraception.
These conservative British Neo-Malthusians campaigned through-out the middle class with an agenda to “educate the educators” ; meaning they intended to educate the middle class doctors, politicians, feminists and clergymen and then they would convince the working class to use birth control. Their views and goals are distinctively different from the Dutch and French Malthusians, who sought to make contraception immediately available to the working class as a means of liberating them . Co-incidentally, Margaret had learned much from the French about Birth control already, and already held these kinds of views concerning birth control and liberating the middle class, she would also learn a significant amount from the Dutch during her stay in Europe.
“At first glance, it would seem that Sanger, the working class outlaw running in anarchist circles, had little in common with the academic, socially conservative British Malthusians who rejected reforms that would give power or voice to the working class.” Sanger sought to liberate the working-class by allowing contraceptives to be available to them immediately. As she argued in the Woman Rebel, the working class’ interest in family limitation was just to get access to effective and safe contraception. But the Malthusian League in Britian, when dealing with non-British advocates of family limitation, were willing to look past political affiliation and join in international European conferences and even welcome such radicals like Emma Goldman, and as we are beginning to see, Margaret Sanger. Despite their differences of opinion concerning the use and limitation of contraceptives, Margaret fostered sincere friendships with many in the league. In describing her first meeting with the Drysdale’s, Margaret said “We had tea together, Mrs. Drysdale is charming. It did seem to me I had known them both and seen them often.”
Not only did Margaret find the friendships of good use in lifting her spirits, but also the League presented to her a program with new possibilities for broadening interest in birth control by applying a more extensive range of scientific , economic, and academic arguments. “Unlike Sanger’s narrower radical economic rationale and incendiary rhetoric, the league’s approach promised wider appeal; it could effectively counter medical opponents legalized birth control and appease middle-class fears of social unrest and race decline. Her web of friendly connections she made among the British Malthusian League helped her develop her ideas into a plan. Charles Drysdale, Bessie Drysdale, Binnie Dunlop, and Alice Vickery warmly accepted Margaret into their homes and lifted her spirits with their attentive invitations to lectures, teas and intellectual conversation sprinkled with friendly debate. Their interest in her work proved to rally her spirits most, especially to what she had believed to receive at home in the United States was blatant indifference. Margaret’s Autobiography recalls, “Instead of heaping criticism and fears upon me, the offered al the force of an international organization as well as their encyclopedic minds to back me up.” There were several people who would prove imperative and influential to the international movement Margaret was building during her time in Europe, all of whom she met through her friends in the League. The most important of all was introduced to her through Alice Vickery, and his name was Havelock Ellis. Margaret, an intellectual woman, curious and itching for excitement, ready to discover and fulfill herself, had no doubt heard of Havelock Ellis and was familiar with his book ( as much of the world was) on sexual abnormalities called “Studies in the Psychology of Sex” which had become the standard work on the subject. By 1914, Ellis had gained a worldwide reputation as one of the greatest living sexual psychologist. His reformulated theories of hygienic conduct gave an immense stature to the emerging revolt against what was perceived as a pervasive Victorian fear and discipline of unlicensed sexual behavior. His sheer enthusiasm for sexuality and his inherent disdain of reticence and duplicity made him the undisputed prophet of a modernist tradition that has since been given further credibility by the empirical sex research of men like Alfred Kinsey. He shared his philosophies with the New Life program, which is comparable the romantic philosophy preached by New York anarchists. Ellis believed in creating “a king of atmosphere in which it shall be possible for the outward life to be a true exponent of the inward life.” In essence, Havelock Ellis was of the same romantic tradition that Margaret herself so stalwartly appealed to. Margaret described this man as “the one man who has done more than anyone in the century toward giving women and men a clear and sane understanding of their sex lives and of all life.” Naturally, meeting a man of such report was of prime worth and Margaret anxiously awaited a chance to meet him, which soon after her arrival in London, arrived asking her over for tea on December 22nd 1914.
Margaret had been in and out of love affairs before, in fact, was allegedly having one with Lorenzo Portet at the time she met Havelock. But her newly found sexuality and desire to experience all life did not confine her to just one man. The pattern of lovers that Margaret chose was an indication that she did not have any plans to confine herself to one man. This pattern also clearly indicates that she went to bed with men who enriched her thinking and advanced her work. Thus assuming another intimate relationship with Havelock was not something she was likely to pass up. Looking to each individual’s account of their first meeting will shed further light on the subject.
Ellis was a notoriously shy man as Margaret remarks in her journal saying, “there is a shyness and reticence about him,” but his shyness did not confine Margaret’s conversation which filled the silences he might have imposed. However, rather unlike himself, Ellis opened up to her frank charm and found himself “fascinated by the young women’s story, by her courage, her devotion to an ideal, her fire, vitality and beauty.” Ellis could not help but indulge in her intelligence as they both shared the difficulties they have faced, then he began to offer some advice which so impressed Margaret that she developed for him “a reverence , an affection, and a love which strengthened with the years.” She left his apartment feeling as though she “had been exalted into a hitherto undreamed of world.” Her journal entry of this night describes Ellis in a way suitable only of a reverent pupil hoping to one day be as great as their master. She says:
“It was four o’clock & he lighted two candles on the mantle. These threw a soft light onto his features which gave him the look of a seer. . . . Wonderful mind, with an easy, not in a hurry rush at all, such a relief to find. It seems to be the men who do the most creative & productive work who are the simplest and easiest to meet and understand. He talked on the trial in his book Inversions—gave me a copy to read also his copy of Karazza to take. Thinks the method advised in Karazza splendid if a man is able to do it, spoke openly and freely on the subject with was a relief. There is a shyness and reticence about him of the student & the simplicity of a great soul and mind. I count this a glorious day to have conversed with the one man who has done more than anyone in the Century toward giving women and men a clear & sane understanding of their sex lives & of all life.”
Such adoring words for a man she hardly knew, but by this time it is likely she knew that she definitely wanted to ‘know’ him more. As for Ellis’ impression of their first meeting, “he had never been so quickly or completely drawn to a woman in the whole of his life.” And thus their relationship began. Margaret, more forward than most women, made it rather clear she would like to be physically intimate with Havelock. However, his shyness which would normally confine his intentions for months, was miraculously overcome within a couple weeks and they soon began an intimate relationshiop.
It was exhilarating for her to be experiencing such structure unlike in New York where radicalism was too vague and unstructured and was only able to agitate her ambition. But here in Britain, where she was hiding from the law, she found world renowned innovators and a program for reform and ways to implement it more or less. Within a week, Ellis was more or less tutoring Margaret at the British Museum Library and for a stretch of several weeks, the two would meet there almost every day to discuss relevant books and materials on birth control in Europe. There are several letters from Havelock to Margaret addressed with flirtatious nicknames like ‘Dear Rebel’, ‘You Wicked Woman,’, ‘My Darling Woman’, or even ‘Dear Twin’. Within these letters are sexual undertones and flirtatious witticisms. In one he teases her erotically about a fear he has of being “gobbled up” while in another he compliments the hat she wore and thinly veils a his certainty that “if you were wore nothing I should think that costume also suite you just perfectly.” For his birthday on February Margaret sent him that picture. There are 50 remaining letters from the year long period while Margaret was in Europe, and what is simultaneously pathetic and interesting about these letters is that most of them were sent while Margaret was away traveling with Portet. Many of his letters were urging her to come back to London, seeking her whereabouts and hinting at his wish to be invited to come along with her. Only one of his letters indicates his acknowledgement of her time on the continent as being good for her education and profitable for her future work, and it was a weak acknowledgement at that. Most of Margaret’s responses to the pathetic devotions of Havelock Ellis were lost or deliberately destroyed, she did continue to write him though, never often enough for Ellis though, she also continued to lead him on flirtatiously—at one point explicitly encouraging him to go on missing her. We do know that she was never duplicitous with Havelock about her whereabouts or intentions from a reference in one of Ellis’ letters playfully accusing her of “already unwinding her scarf to wave to someone else.”
When Margaret finally returned to London in May, she made an effort to avoid meeting Ellis, but his obsession with her lead him on frantic searches for her at their old haunts like the British Museum. When he finally found her, he was disappointed and inwardly disturbed that she greeted him with a shy reserve and he awkwardly conceded to go back to his wife who was in very poor health and would soon pass away.
The awkward end of their relationship, and the tragic ends of both their dearest loves (Portet and Edith), indicated several things about each individual. However, I believe that Havelock taught her the theories she needed to know, and she implanted them into her life. One of the many important things she learned from the Havelock and the Drysdales, was to concentrate on one issue, birth control, and leave the denunciations of capitilaism, churches and matrimony aside. Havelock advises her in one of his many letters; “You know I know I tthink I you are splendid. I do not always agree with you when you attack, but I always agree when you define. . . . It is no use, however, being too reckless and smashing your head against a blank wall, for not one rebel, or even many rebels, can crush law by force.” Ellis supports this with the argument that reforming the law requires “skill even more than it needs strength.” Ellis and the Drysdales were successful in convincing Margaret that birth control, not vague radical tirades, deserved her exclusive attention.
There are also two more exclusive ways that Ellis influenced Margaret. One of those ways was in sexuality, as well as in eugenics. He introduced Margaret to eugenics by exposing her readings such as the Elements of Social Science, by George Drysdale and the Noyes pamphlets. Drysdale, a Malthusian, argued that mankind faced a either economic or amatory deprivation, the first was indeed concerning, but only artificial conception was the only thing that could increase the amount of love in the world. Thus, George Drysdale could possibly be the first modern thinker to apply scientific achievements to enhancing romantic love. The Noyes pamphlets were accounts of the supposedly scientific breeding practices of the American Oneida Community under the leadership of John Humphrey Noyes. Under the tutelage of Ellis, Margaret studied the earlier, crude population economics and Malthus, Mill and Owen. She devoured pamphlets on contraceptive technique, such as Fruits of Philosophy by Bostonian Charles Knowlton, as well as descriptions of contraceptive methods written by H.A. Albutt, and Annie Besant. With the help of Ellis, Margaret began to shape the ideas she had assimilated into a systemic and even philosophic justification for birth control, which began to bear fruit in several pamphlets and speeches she wrote during this time. Such as English Methods of Birth Control: “Are Preventative Methods Injurious to Health?” as well as English Methods of Birth Control: “Are Preventative Measures Certain?” Madeline Gray, in her historic analysis and description of the life of Margaret Sanger, gives a detailed history of the things Margaret Sanger learned about the several different countries histories of birth control in which Margaret learned under her tutelage with Ellis.
She of course had a general knowledge of contraceptive methods and sexual theory, however, there were holes, which we can see were filled in by Ellis in their time of study together. In a pamphlet written by Margaret in 1914 called “The Prevention of Conception” she asserts with more authority than is due to her that “Seldom does a prostitute become pregnant. Seldom does the girl practicing promiscuity become pregnant.” It is unclear what research she had done that prompted this, but in a letter from Havelock Ellis, he addresses a concern she expressed in a letter she wrote to him saying, “Like you, I feel suspicious about the idea that to have inter course with many men prevents the prostitute from becoming pregnant. I don’t deny the possibility, but at present it is merely a vague idea. In the same letter, he teaches her about coitus interruptus by quoting his Studies (Vol. VI p. 551) “Coitus interruptus, since it involves sudden withdrawal in the part of the man without reference to the stage of excitement which his partner may have reached, cannot fail to produce frequently an injurious nervous effect on the woman.” In the letter he writes determining a time they will meet at the Library and that he looks forward to seeing her.
The Goods In Holland
Mrs. Sanger was also urged by the Drysdales and Havelock Ellis to visit the government-supported birth control clinic at the Hague in Holland. The Drysdales provided a letter of introduction to Dr. Johannes Rutgers, the operator of the clinic in the field of clinical contraception and by the end of January 1915, Margaret was off to Holland. She had other reasons to leave and travel abroad, and that was news from her husband who had been arrested by Comstock himself for giving one of Margaret’s pamphlet’s on Family Limitation out to an undercover spy who worked for Comstock. Annoyed that Bill might get the attention and reception she felt was hers, as well as annoyed that he might be trying to make a gesture, Margaret gladly took the opportunity to gallivant across Europe with her Spanish lover and take her mind of the situation back home. She was warned by her husband to stay abroad and not come back as that was what Comstock probably wanted her to do and he would most likely influence her sentence heavily and harshly.
In Holland, however, she found relief in that she could take her mind off of what was going on at home. She was eventually met by Dr. Rutgers who was cordial enough to conduct her around, gave her samples of the Mensinga Diaphragm, showed her his records, and explained how each patient was followed up to see if the method she had chosen was successful. He then had Margaret accompany the midwives who went to the homes of women too poor to travel to a clinic; there the midwives showed her how to insert diaphragms properly and easily. Margaret was also given the pamphlets that the clinic handed out to Dutch men and women, instructing them about all different kinds of contraceptives and which were best. Under “Methods for Husbands” was first, absolute continence which was dismissed as impossible. (I WILL CONTINUE THIS INFO)
Most importantly and significantly, Margaret was able to review and revise the information in her Family Limitation Pamphlet to safer more guaranteed forms of birth control. In her earlier edition of Family Limitation, Margaret recommended the Mispah diaphragm, but Dr. Rutgers informed her that the Mensinga Diaphragm was superior. More significantly, Dr. Rutgers was able to dissuade Margaret from the view she expressed in Family Limitation that women could teach each other contraceptive methods or that theu could learn from the pamphlets such as her own. “Every desiring birth control instruction, said Dr Rutger, mustbe medically examined and individually fitted by a phsysician with the proper type and size of pessary. Contraception, he insitied, was stricltly a medical matter. Margaret Sanger’s acceptance of that lesson determined the whole course of the subsequent brith control movement.
Ellis influenced Margaret a great deal, as well as provided a great comfort to her loneliness and anxiety as she was away from her beloved children, Grant, Peggy and Staurt.
Ellis also legitimized Sanger’s commitment to birth control; her conviction that women could find fulfillment in their own sexuality, as well as freedom from the oppression of male desire, by liberating themselves from the fear of unwanted pregnancy. While Ellis’s theories were based in scientific inquiry, he also emphasized the romantic and spiritual importance of mutually pleasurable sexual relations. Under his tutelage, Sanger reformed and expanded her belief that through the use of birth control, women could acknowledge their own eroticism, men could help fulfill it, and together they could produce children by mutual consent.
Margaret Sanger is the most influential and prominent pioneer of birth control in the United States. Her contributions were enormous and long-lasting which fruits can be seen today as the Planned Parenthood. She was a complex women, ambitious, cunning and compassionate. Her fight against ‘the man’ in early 1910’s would lead her to Europe, escaping the warrant for her arrest. It was her time there that was truly important to her long-suffering battle; she met many influential people, discussed sexuality with them, had affairs with some of them, ended her relationship with her husband who was in the U.S., and learned more about the types of birth control and the need for it and why. Her cause, her life’s purpose was birth control and her experiences in Europe was where it was cemented. Margaret’s experiences in Europe refined her into the person that would bring birth control to the United States.
Margaret Sanger was a complex, dramatic, and radical women. It seems that she was born filled to the brim with ambition, eager to get to the top and ready to make any sacrifice that would put her there. She was a born leader, no doubt about it. She lived her convictions thoroughly, even to the point of sacrificing her marriage, and was a model of what she thought a free woman was; the woman who had the right of her own body. It took nearly more than 6 decades for her efforts to fully come to fruition, but without her radical frustrations firing her motivation to shock society with her frankness, the several generations of women who have lived sexually and intellectually fulfilling lives since her death would not have been able to do so. To Margaret, the ends justified the means. While she may seem selfish, over dramatic, pretentious, or self-righteous, and even promiscuous, she won for herself the title and glory and the lifetime’s worth of work that brought woman sexual freedom.
12ompany the midwives who went to the homes of women too poor to travel to a clinic; there the midwives showed her how to insert diaphragms properly and easily. Margaret was also given the pamphlets that the clinic handed out to Dutch men and women, instructing them about all different kinds of contraceptives and which were best. Under “Methods for Husbands” was first, absolute continence which was dismissed as impossible. (I WILL CONTINUE THIS INFO)
Margaret Sanger is the most influential and prominent pioneer of birth control in the United States. Her contributions were enormous and long-lasting which fruits can be seen today as the Planned Parenthood. She was a complex women, ambitious, cunning and compassionate. Her fight against ‘the man’ in early 1910’s would lead her to Europe, escaping the warrant for her arrest. It was her time there that was