Graduate Review


The most popular image of the historic fight for birth control is connected to the Women's Liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s. Prior to that, the struggle is tied to Women’s suffrage. Regardless of the starting point, the common understanding of the fight for birth control is one along gendered lines. Historians like Linda Gordon in the book Women’s Body, Women’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America keep with this line of thought. Although most historians currently view the struggle for birth control through a gendered lens, the organized discourse of birth control began as a radical class issue. This understanding of birth control as a class issue is made clear through the use of periodicals from the radical anarchist labor union The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and memoirs of two of the most prominent birth control advocates of the early 20th century, Margaret Sanger and Emma Goldman. The connection between the IWW and these two women, Sanger, who was a member, and Goldman, an early supporter, shows the ties between class and birth control in ways that have been overlooked.



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