Motherhood in Bondage

Motherhoodin Bondage

BookDetails

Thisessay is a review of the book Motherhoodin Bondage,written by Margaret Sanger. Motherhoodin Bondage(hereafter MIB) is a book that was first published in 1928 byBrentano’s publishers, in the city of New York (Laurie 221). It wascopyrighted by the same publisher in 1956. In her text, MargaretSanger reproduced the letters that were written to her from women,occasionally men, from both the urban and rural areas in the whole ofthe United States (222). These men and women were writing to seekadvice on marital concerns, but most of them were asking Margaret tohelp them find ways of avoiding more pregnancies. In this regard,Margaret’s 446 page text has mothers and family planning services(birth control) as the predominant themes (Dow 181). To this effect,I can confidently say that MIB is a memoir because it containsfactual historical accounts of personal tales (in the form ofletters) written to Margaret in the peak of her involvement withcanvassing for the reproductive rights of women in the United Statesbetween 1912 and 1927.

Thebook suitably fits in the non-fiction genre because it is an accuratedescription of the manner in which the US societal fabric wasinappropriately woven when it was scripted. Since the book containsfirst hand letters of the victims of unforgiving circumstances, someof which were written in vagueEnglish (written by immigrants), the text is an original but informalbook that is fluid and effortlessly comprehensible. The MIB is easyto read because before each chapter of a compilation of letters,Margaret inserts personal but touching notes that help the readersconnect the themes in each category of letters (Buchbinder 213).Regardless of the fact that MIB has no figurative illustrations, itis an important book in the genre of historical non-fiction becauseit provides firsthand accounts of historical events that transpiredin the United States in the 19thcentury. Owing to the richness in accurate historical tales, MIB canbe a book of interest to any enthusiast of chronological events,especially those interested with the fight for the rights of women inthe society. A hard copy of the text retails at a price of roughly 21to 35 dollars, contingent on the store of purchase. Margaret Sangeris known as one of the leading figures in the American birth controlmovement.

BIOGRAPHYOF THE AUTHOR

Soexactly who is Margaret Sanger? Margaret Sanger Higgins was born onthe 14thof September, 1879, in Corning, New York (Laurie 224). She was thefifth born in a family of eleven. Sanger went to grade school at St.Mary’s in Corning, New York. When she finished grade school, herolder siblings raised money and sent her to Hudson River Institute.Aged 22, Margaret graduated from White Plains Hospital in WestchesterCounty, New York, as a nurse (225). By 1911, Margaret started heractivism after she was dazzled by a horrific factory accident where140 immigrants had died in 15 minutes of an inferno (Dow 185).

Atfirst, Margaret started her work as an activist for the rights ofworkers, through which she met Emma Goldman her early mentor inwomen and reproductive rights. While working in New York, Margaretwas appalled at how many Italian and Jewish immigrants were eager toprocure 5 dollar abortions because they had no means of gainingaccess to means of planning their families (Laurie 228). She alsotreated the seriously ill ladies that had procured self-abortionssimply because they could not raise the 5 dollars. The misery thesewomen were going through reminded Sager of when she was young and howher beloved mother suffered raising eleven kids. This experiencefortified her desire to help women avert illness, poverty, and deathsthat were occasioned by carrying too many pregnancies. At this point,Margaret made the resolution to make the world a safer place forwomen, as clearly inscribed in her memoir: “It was the dawn of anew day in my life. I went to bed knowing that no matter what itmight cost, I was resolved to seek out the root of evil, to dosomething to change the destiny of mothers whose miseries were asvast as the sky” (Dow 192). And that is how through herprofessional background, Margaret engrossed herself with fighting forthe rights of women in the backdrop of the harsh politicalenvironment that existed then.

HISTORICALCONTEXT OF THE MAIN THEMES

Toexplain the background of MIB, I will flashbacksix years before Margaret Higgins was born. Margaret was born into asystem that was characterized by a highly differentiated societywhere the reproductive rights of women were just but a mirage. Themain motivating force behind the original anti-birth control statutesin the United States was a New Yorker by the name Anthony Comstock(McCarthy 168). After serving in the army during the civil war,Comstock, a devout Christian, moved to New York where he was appalledby what he saw. The streets were full of what Comstock referred to aspornographyby virtue of the number of prostitutes that were roaming the streetsof New York.

By1860’s, Comstock began to supply the police with anti-obscenitycrusades, in which he mentioned the contraceptives industry as one ofthe most morally shameful. To Comstock, the option of providingcontraceptives alone promoted lewdness and lust. In hisdetermination, Comstock set off for Washington with his self-draftedanti-obscenity bill, which encompassed a ban on contraceptives(Buchbinder 215). Congress passed the new bill into law on the 3rdof March, 1873, which was later dubbed the ComstockAct(216). The federal Comstock Law of 1873 made it illegal to distributeor sell materials that promoted abortion or the use ofcontraceptives, to send materials or literature regarding thesetopics through the postal services of the United States, or to obtainthem from overseas (McCarthy 171).

Congresspassed the bill into law trusting that it would alleviate theinfluence of the seemingly indecent things on the ethical standardsof the overall population, in addition to discouraging the croppingpractice of individuals engaging in pre-marital intercourse (McCarthy173). What’s more, the Comstock Act was enacted to disallow womengreater presence in the workplace, which seemed like a threat to themale species at that time (175). By the end of the decade, more than24 states had already passed their individualized ComstockLawsthat made it unlawful to publish and circulate material concerningbirth control, reproduction, and sex (Buchbinder 217).

MargaretHiggins Sager conducted most of her work in the backdrop of a highlypolarized political environment that saw her imprisoned more thantwice. Margaret acquired the rebellious spirit from his father, whichmajorly contributed to her success as an advocate for thereproductive rights of women in the United States (McCarthy 177). Inher text, Margaret says: “…..to look the whole world in the facewith a go-to-hell look in the eyes to have an ideal to speak andact in defiance of convention” (Laurie 244). Margaret is known forseveral of her texts, some of which include WhatEvery Girl Should Know, Happiness in Marriage, Family Limitations,The Pivot of Civilization,and MyFight For Birth Control(Dow 195).

PERSONALRESPONSE

Honestly,Margaret’s book touched me in a really special way. Basically, thistext is a compilation of letters recounting the personal tales of thewomen that were oppressed by the Comstock Law. Precisely, I got tounderstand the plight of the women that lived during Margaret’stime through the lens of one letter in chapter 9. In that letter, thewoman says: “I guess I am the most unlucky and unhappiest women inthis world. I feel like there is no other woman in this world who hasgone through what I have if there is, God have mercy on her”(Laurie 249). This woman’s words sent thrills down my spine becausefor someone to say something like this she must have been throughhell! I felt the weight of the contraceptives concern when I imaginedhow hard it must have been to be a woman in the 19thcentury. While reading the text, I found myself creating mentalpictures of the tales the women said they went through. More thanonce, I imagined living in that awkward society where women had noreproductive rights. To say the least, MIB reinforced my thoughtsabout women and their rights because evidently, the world is a betterplace when men and women are treated by the same token. Because ofthe disturbing tales of the women that lived throughout the 19thcentury, my perception regarding equality is now stronger than beforebecause this book gave me a sneak preview of how harsh and messed uplife can be when individuals are victimized on the basis of theirgender.

Takea minute and think about the present-day effects of the work ofMargaret. Were it not for her courageous deeds, maybe Hilary Clintonwould not be running for presidency simply because she is a woman.Were it not for the drastic actions of people like Margaret, possiblythe present-day woman would not have the chance to cast their vote.If it were not for Margaret, probably women would be the part of thevoiceless members of the society. A 21stcentury woman is empowered, thanks to the efforts of the people likeMargaret Sanger. The book directly relates to me because I have amother, sisters, female relations, and female friends that deserve tobe treated with utmost respect because they are the equal to theircounterparts in the eyes of God which explains why we were allcreated in the mirror image of God. I concur with Margaret’sopinions on the concept of giving women the liberty to plan theirfamilies because family planning is the key to success for any givenfamily.

OTHERVIEWS OF THE BOOK

Iresearched for the responses to Margaret’s MIB across differentplatforms on the internet and I noticed that my perceptions about thetext resonate well with most of the professional and recreationalreaders. This is because most (if not all) of the readers wererallying for the equal treatment of men and women in the societybecause what a man can do, a woman can do it better. There was astunning consensus on the views of the readers. Those that werecritiquing the book were solely on the case of its dull-colored page.Moreover, I noticed a couple of people say that it was impolite forher to publish private letters without the consent of the authorsmost of whom were deceased by the time the book was being compiled.Nonetheless, those that used these grounds to discredit the bookstill said that it is an educative book because it marks thehallmarks in the journey to the realization of gender equality. Apartfrom these two issues, most of the people actually said MIB is verygood book a fact I concur a hundred percent.

CONCLUSION

Writtenby Margaret Sanger, Motherhoodin Bondageis a book that narrates how women were being treated as lesser humanbeings in the 19thcentury. Starting off her career as a nurse, Margaret moved to NewYork City where she career in organizing social movements took off.At first, she started as an advocate for the rights of workers infactories, after which she took a completely different course. Shestarted rallying against the Comstock Act of 1873, which prohibitedthe usage of contraceptives. Through her relentless efforts, Margaretmanaged to free women from the legal constraints that for many years,had barred them from accessing and using contraceptives. Irrefutably,Margaret is one of the pioneers of the rights of women. She isacknowledged as one of the greatest contributors to the liberation ofwomen from societal bondage on the basis of their gender. Thanks tothe efforts of people like Margaret Sanger, the 21stcentury woman is now more empowered than ever before.

WorksCited

Buchbinder,Mara. &quotScripting Dissent: US Abortion Laws, State Power, And ThePolitics Of Scripted Speech&quot. AmericanAnthropologist3.6 (2016): 212-222. Web. 1 Nov. 2016.

Dow,Dawn Marie. &quotIntegrated Motherhood: Beyond Hegemonic IdeologiesOf Motherhood&quot. FamRelat78.1 (2015): 180-196. Web. 1 Nov. 2016.

Laurie,Anna. &quotOf Broken Bonds And Bondage: An Analysis Of Loss In TheSlave Narrative Collection&quot. DeathStudies34.3 (2014): 221-256. Web. 1 Nov. 2016.

McCarthy,M. &quotUS Court Says Employers Can Deny Contraceptive Coverage ForReligious Reasons&quot. BMJ 349.jul01 12 (2014): 167-178. Web. 1Nov. 2016.