Several commenters have objected to my connecting Margaret Sanger’s radio program with the larger feminist movement. Bluedog has a long and complicated explanation involving class which is specific to the one woman Sanger ostensibly was talking to. New commenter openidname struggles with the math but comes to much the same conclusion:
Hmmm. One dumb-ass woman says one dumb-ass thing 650 FREAKING YEARS ago.
Get over it already.
Another new commenter by the handle Ann first explained that she was molested as a child and had an abusive porn viewing husband, before explaining that in exposing the ugliness of feminists like Sanger I am hurting women:
Groups do not abuse, individuals abuse. Sometimes, evil people, women like Sanger or men like Manson collect evil people and attract victims. Unfortunately, some are successful.
When evil people, like Sanger, get individual men to paint in this case, “all women” as evil, they win. When you hate women because of Sanger and her followers, you feel OK hurting women (since they are all evil). You have then become the thing you hate. Sadly, you hurt women, who may then become more attracted to Sanger and her ilk.
The simple truth is that Sanger was a radical feminist. In 1914 she began publishing the radical feminist monthly Woman Rebel. She was well connected within the progressive movement, including Eleanor Roosevelt.
Moreover, the ideas she was selling in the radio program are the same ideas modern feminism is founded on, the same ideas which are now mainstream even for conservatives. Sanger founded Planned Parenthood, but the text of the program could have easily been written by the founder of NOW, Betty Friedan. Friedan is credited with kicking off modern feminism with her book The Feminine Mystique. Here is the synopsis of that book from Wikipedia:
The Feminine Mystique begins with an introduction describing what Friedan called “the problem that has no name”—the widespread unhappiness of women in the 1950s and early 1960s. It discusses the lives of several housewives from around the United States who were unhappy despite living in material comfort and being married with children.
What bothers these commenters is feminism is undeniably ugly, and I’m laying that out bare for all to see.
The myth is that modern feminism suddenly kicked off with Friedan’s book raising women’s consciousness of the oppression of marriage and motherhood. The truth is that feminists had been beating the drums of envy and petty unhappiness for many decades, with perhaps a slight reduction in volume during the depression and World War II. But whether you trace the roots back to Friedan, Sanger, or even further, you will find the same ugly philosophy of envy, miserliness, and petty unhappiness.
Feminism can’t shed that ugly legacy because this is what feminism is all about. This is why even after radically reworking our entire society we still have feminist leaders like Hillary Clinton explaining that “Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat.” It is also why we will always have women eyeing the military with envy.
Edit: Corrected the title of Sanger’s feminist monthly from The Women Rebel to Woman Rebel.