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Birth control as a movement in the US has had a very uneven relationship to movements for women s rights. Discuss early birth control reform efforts in relationship to issues of gender and class power. Birth control was an early-twentieth-century slogan, but it has become the generic for all forms of control of reproduction. Although there are many types of birth control it s just as bad as abortion. With the spread of agriculture and the economic advantages of large families, religious and in some cases secular law increasingly restricted birth control, with the result that there appears to have been an increase in reliance on abortion while contraceptive technology and use declined. Both practices were legal in the United States until the mid-nineteenth century. Starting in the 1830 s, a state-by-state drive to prohibit abortion developed and was largely successful by 1880. It was spurred by a backlash against the women s rights movement that reflected anxieties about women deserting their conventional position as mothers, and specializing physicians eager to restrict their competition from irregular practitioners, many of them offering abortion services. Then in 1873 all birth control information was specifically included within the definition of the obscene and was therefore barred form interstate commerce by the federal Comstock Act. Nevertheless the steady decline of the U.S. birthrate in the nineteenth century suggests that some traditional birth-control methods were widely used despite legal prohibition, notably, abortion, coitus interrupts, and douches. There were several political movements in the nineteenth century for birth control. The first, neo-Malthusianism, appearing in England, sought to increase the standard of living among the poor by reducing births. However, neo-Malthusianism had little support from the United States because of the view that America was under-populated. The United States had birth-control programs rooted in pre-war reform movement, both secular and religious. Birth control was advocated for several reasons, such as, population control, hereditary disease prevention, hereditary stock improvement, liberation from reproductive drudgery, and sometimes to permit sexual freedom. In the 1820 s neo-Malthusian ideas were integrated into experimental socialism, socialists were soon joined by religious radicals who promoted birth- control, but in different forms. The second Great Awakening had given rise to a perfectionist mode of thought because it gave rise to the idea of a perfect earthly life. Also committed to improving woman s condition and public health generally, these religious socialists rejected contraception as artificial and instead tried to effect birth control by changing the nature of sexual activity itself. Women s rights advocates shared the view that the discipline and self-control required by non-contraceptive birth control was in itself liberating. By the 1870 s, a flourishing feminist movement transformed this tradition of thought into a new political demand, with the slogan voluntary motherhood. Nineteenth-century feminists continued to oppose contraception and abortion, which, they feared, would further license predatory male sexual aggression. Abstinence was recommended instead. Their proposal and rhetoric have been considered prudish, and there is some truth in this characterization, since they were expressing many women s negative experiences of heterosexual sex; yet viewed in their historic context, they can also be characterized as spokeswomen for women s sexual liberation. They understood that women could not find and defend their own sexual desires until they gained the power to reject men s. At the Free Love edges of the feminist movement, some advocated greater sexual experience and pleasure for women, whereas more mainstream women s rights advocates tended to emphasize the dangers of lewd sexuality. Their arguments for abstinence as a form of birth control thus had two meanings: one was voluntary motherhood, opposition to coercive childbearing; the other was voluntary sex, opposition to men s tradition of demanding sexual submission from wives. Unlike their neo-Malthusian predecessors, voluntary motherhood advocates were not concerned with population size or with working-class power; they were resolutely pro-motherhood and, far challenging the Victorian romanticization of power, they manipulated it to increase women s power. At the turn of the century a conservative reaction against voluntary motherhood agitation set in, focused on the race suicide alarm polarized by President Roosevelt. Race suicide moralists used propaganda by saying that women who avoided their maternal duties by using birth control were being selfish. Shortly after World War I the birth-control mass movement subsided because of the conservative mood that followed the war. The leader of the main national birth-control organization, Margaret Sanger, shifted political strategies, downplaying the earlier association of reproductive control with women s right and seeking instead a compromise: legalizing contraception at physicians discretion. Birth-control leaders also emphasize the selective breeding arguments popular for several decades. However, building on racist fears of high immigrant and black birthrates built support for the legalization of contraception. The adoption of statutes providing for forcible sterilization of the feeble-minded, degenerates and some other groups by many states was also part of this redefinition of the function of birth control. This compromise was the basis for significant hostility to birth control among many twentieth-century African-Americans. The World War II period produced two new birth-control movements: Planned Parenthood and population control. The Planned Parenthood renewed the campaign for the legalization and promotion of contraception, arguing primarily that birth control promoted family stability. Unlike the pro-family backlash of the race suicide alarm, these family planning advocates asserted that marital adjustments must rest on a permissive attitude toward sex without fear of contraception. Planned Parenthood, unlike the voluntary motherhood movement, endorsed unlimited marital sex and did not raise issues of women s sexual exploitation. In its international aspects, it argued a renewed neo-Malthusianism: it advocated population control as a cure for poverty. By 1960 population control had become such an unchallenged ideology in the U.S that many used the phrase interchangeably with the earlier birth control. In the late 1960 s the renewed women s liberation movement again changed the terms of understanding of reproduction control policies. The women s movement viewed birth control as part of an overall campaign for women s self-determination and began to distinguish that goal from those of family planning or population control. This orientation was influenced by the introduction of birth-control pills in 1960, which were mass-marketed so successfully that within a year one million women in the United States were using them. The pill had twofold effect: its availability accustomed a generation of women to sex without fear of reproduction, and feminist exposure of its health dangers and discomforts. Some of them hidden by the great pharmaceutical companies that were reaping vast profits from this new market, decreased women s trust in professionals and sparked a powerful women s health movement.
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Argument essay Against Birth Control in the United States
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Argument Essay Against Birth Control In The United States

Words: 1096    Pages: 4    Paragraphs: 10    Sentences: 50    Read Time: 03:59
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              Birth control as a movement in the US has had a very uneven relationship to movements for women s rights. Discuss early birth control reform efforts in relationship to issues of gender and class power.
             
             
              Birth control was an early-twentieth-century slogan, but it has become the generic for all forms of control of reproduction. Although there are many types of birth control it s just as bad as abortion. With the spread of agriculture and the economic advantages of large families, religious and in some cases secular law increasingly restricted birth control, with the result that there appears to have been an increase in reliance on abortion while contraceptive technology and use declined. Both practices were legal in the United States until the mid-nineteenth century.
             
              Starting in the 1830 s, a state-by-state drive to prohibit abortion developed and was largely successful by 1880. It was spurred by a backlash against the women s rights movement that reflected anxieties about women deserting their conventional position as mothers, and specializing physicians eager to restrict their competition from irregular practitioners, many of them offering abortion services. Then in 1873 all birth control information was specifically included within the definition of the obscene and was therefore barred form interstate commerce by the federal Comstock Act. Nevertheless the steady decline of the U. S. birthrate in the nineteenth century suggests that some traditional birth-control methods were widely used despite legal prohibition, notably, abortion, coitus interrupts, and douches.
             
              There were several political movements in the nineteenth century for birth control. The first, neo-Malthusianism, appearing in England, sought to increase the standard of living among the poor by reducing births. However, neo-Malthusianism had little support from the United States because of the view that America was under-populated.
             
              The United States had birth-control programs rooted in pre-war reform movement, both secular and religious. Birth control was advocated for several reasons, such as, population control, hereditary disease prevention, hereditary stock improvement, liberation from reproductive drudgery, and sometimes to permit sexual freedom. In the 1820 s neo-Malthusian ideas were integrated into experimental socialism, socialists were soon joined by religious radicals who promoted birth- control, but in different forms. The second Great Awakening had given rise to a perfectionist mode of thought because it gave rise to the idea of a perfect earthly life. Also committed to improving woman s condition and public health generally, these religious socialists rejected contraception as artificial and instead tried to effect birth control by changing the nature of sexual activity itself.
             
              Women s rights advocates shared the view that the discipline and self-control required by non-contraceptive birth control was in itself liberating. By the 1870 s, a flourishing feminist movement transformed this tradition of thought into a new political demand, with the slogan voluntary motherhood. Nineteenth-century feminists continued to oppose contraception and abortion, which, they feared, would further license predatory male sexual aggression. Abstinence was recommended instead. Their proposal and rhetoric have been considered prudish, and there is some truth in this characterization, since they were expressing many women s negative experiences of heterosexual sex; yet viewed in their historic context, they can also be characterized as spokeswomen for women s sexual liberation. They understood that women could not find and defend their own sexual desires until they gained the power to reject men s. At the Free Love edges of the feminist movement, some advocated greater sexual experience and pleasure for women, whereas more mainstream women s rights advocates tended to emphasize the dangers of lewd sexuality. Their arguments for abstinence as a form of birth control thus had two meanings: one was voluntary motherhood, opposition to coercive childbearing; the other was voluntary sex, opposition to men s tradition of demanding sexual submission from wives.
             
              Unlike their neo-Malthusian predecessors, voluntary motherhood advocates were not concerned with population size or with working-class power; they were resolutely pro-motherhood and, far challenging the Victorian romanticization of power, they manipulated it to increase women s power. At the turn of the century a conservative reaction against voluntary motherhood agitation set in, focused on the race suicide alarm polarized by President Roosevelt. Race suicide moralists used propaganda by saying that women who avoided their maternal duties by using birth control were being selfish.
             
              Shortly after World War I the birth-control mass movement subsided because of the conservative mood that followed the war. The leader of the main national birth-control organization, Margaret Sanger, shifted political strategies, downplaying the earlier association of reproductive control with women s right and seeking instead a compromise: legalizing contraception at physicians discretion. Birth-control leaders also emphasize the selective breeding arguments popular for several decades. However, building on racist fears of high immigrant and black birthrates built support for the legalization of contraception. The adoption of statutes providing for forcible sterilization of the feeble-minded, degenerates and some other groups by many states was also part of this redefinition of the function of birth control. This compromise was the basis for significant hostility to birth control among many twentieth-century African-Americans.
             
              The World War II period produced two new birth-control movements: Planned Parenthood and population control. The Planned Parenthood renewed the campaign for the legalization and promotion of contraception, arguing primarily that birth control promoted family stability. Unlike the pro-family backlash of the race suicide alarm, these family planning advocates asserted that marital adjustments must rest on a permissive attitude toward sex without fear of contraception. Planned Parenthood, unlike the voluntary motherhood movement, endorsed unlimited marital sex and did not raise issues of women s sexual exploitation. In its international aspects, it argued a renewed neo-Malthusianism: it advocated population control as a cure for poverty. By 1960 population control had become such an unchallenged ideology in the U. S that many used the phrase interchangeably with the earlier birth control.
             
              In the late 1960 s the renewed women s liberation movement again changed the terms of understanding of reproduction control policies. The women s movement viewed birth control as part of an overall campaign for women s self-determination and began to distinguish that goal from those of family planning or population control. This orientation was influenced by the introduction of birth-control pills in 1960, which were mass-marketed so successfully that within a year one million women in the United States were using them. The pill had twofold effect: its availability accustomed a generation of women to sex without fear of reproduction, and feminist exposure of its health dangers and discomforts. Some of them hidden by the great pharmaceutical companies that were reaping vast profits from this new market, decreased women s trust in professionals and sparked a powerful women s health movement.
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