Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America

Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America

by Ellen Chesler

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Overview

This illuminating biography of Margaret Sanger—the woman who fought for birth control in America—describes her childhood, her private life, her relationships with Emma Goldman and John Reed, her public role, and more.

Margaret Sanger went to jail in 1917 for distributing contraceptives to immigrant women in a makeshift clinic in Brooklyn. She died a half-century later, just after the Supreme Court guaranteed constitutional protection for the use of contraceptives. Now, Ellen Chesler provides an authoritative and widely acclaimed biography of this great emancipator, whose lifelong struggle helped women gain control over their own bodies.

An idealist who mastered practical politics, Sanger seized on contraception as the key to redistributing power to women in the bedroom, the home, and the community. For fifty years, she battled formidable opponents ranging from the US Government to the Catholic Church. Her crusade was both passionate and paradoxical. She was an advocate of female solidarity who often preferred the company of men; an adoring mother who abandoned her children; a socialist who became a registered Republican; a sexual adventurer who remained an incurable romantic. Her comrades-in-arms included Emma Goldman and John Reed; her lovers, Havelock Ellis and H.G. Wells.

Drawing on new information from archives and interviews, Chesler illuminates Sanger’s turbulent personal story as well as the history of the birth control movement. An intimate biography of a visionary rebel, Woman of Valor is also an epic story that extends from the radical movements of pre-World War I to the family planning initiatives of the Great Society. At a time when women’s reproductive and sexual autonomy is once again under attack, this landmark biography is indispensable reading for the generations in debt to Sanger for the freedoms they take for granted.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416553694
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 10/16/2007
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 672
File size: 958 KB

About the Author

Ellen Chesler is a distinguished lecturer and director of the Eleanor Roosevelt Initiative on Women and Public Life at Roosevelt House, the public policy center of Hunter College of the City University of New York. Woman of Valor was a finalist for PEN’s 1993 Martha Albrand Prize for the year’s best first work of nonfiction.

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Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
AngelicBlonde More than 1 year ago
This was a great biography of an amazing woman whose life saw and shaped the evolution of the birth control movement. The book was well researched, and the addition of so many pictures brought the book to life.

The book is fairly long so it took me awhile to read but it was worth it. The whole life of Margaret Sanger was covered. Both her personal and public life was explained and shown. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the birth control movement or Margaret Sanger. The book offers a great deal of information about both.
Angelic55blonde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a great biography of an amazing woman whose life saw and shaped the evolution of the birth control movement. The book was well researched, and the addition of so many pictures brought the book to life.The book is fairly long so it took me awhile to read but it was worth it. The whole life of Margaret Sanger was covered. Both her personal and public life was explained and shown. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the birth control movement or Margaret Sanger. The book offers a great deal of information about both.
Beverly_D More than 1 year ago
Meticulously researched and footnoted, this somewhat ponderous tome (about 670 pages including the notes and index) does not make for a quick beach read. It's fascinating to learn how very many of the rights modern women take for granted come from the work of this brave and dedicated woman, who began the movement and started the clinics that eventually morphed into Planned Parenthood, both in the USA and internationally. People - even doctors - didn't even TALK about the phrase (ssssh) BIRTH CONTROL a hundred years ago. Sanger changed that, brought an awareness of the need to offer women reproductive choices other than abstinence, too many babies, or illegal and risky abortions. Sanger's reputation has been much besmirched in the last few decades by those who hate that women are making their own choices as to when - or whether to become mothers. As Chesler presents her, Sanger was far from perfect; she made enemies as well as friends and supporters. She was loath to give up the glory/credit for work that others joined in as well. (Sanger may have been one of the earliest pioneers of name branding.)  Redheaded, witty and attractive, she did not believe in monogamy (at least for herself) and engaged in countless affairs, including one with writer H.G. Wells, somehow managing it that none of her men became jealous of her other lovers or husbands; they were all happy, or at least content, having a tiny bit of her time and attention. Whether you believe this disgustingly immoral or not, it's still an amazing feat for anyone to pull off. She was not a good mother, neglecting her children for the cause of B.C. But she was not a supporter of Nazism, race eugenics, or racism - those are all LIES propagated by those with an axe to grind. She wasn't even really in favor of abortion, though she grudgingly agreed that in some cases there was a medical necessity. This book will inform you of all you ever wanted to learn about Margaret Sanger (and more), and if you have a question or wonder how or why the author interpreted something, it's all deeply footnoted. The ending feels a bit rushed; perhaps because the author was conscious of it already being a very long book, or perhaps because Sanger made less news and had fewer letters and interviews in her declining years following several heart attacks. Worth the read, for anyone interested in women's history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago