Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Enslaved Women

It took one brave woman, compelled to free women of the conventional childbearing obligation, to spark a movement that would liberate woman for generations to come. Despite opposition, Margaret Sanger stimulated women to think for themselves by advocating the prevention of contraception.

Her publications, Woman Rebel and Birth Control Review were seen as filthy and obscene because a woman preventing herself from becoming pregnant was considered a violation of the laws of both God and Nature at the time. Law officials ceased her publication and exiled her from the country, but her dissent magazines instilled a term into its readers minds that would be passed on for over a century to come: birth control.

Introduced in 1914, this umbrella term means any technique or method used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at different stages. Now, in the year 2011, birth control has for the most part lost the negative connotation it once held. Abortion, however,  still lingers in legal, ethical and religious debate. Contraception is still banned in several states and there is still a stigma against women who end a pregnancy through abortion. 

Sanger fought for working class women who often had no idea how to avoid becoming pregnant. Nowadays, women have the options at their fingertips. Places like Planned Parenthood offer contraception, education, services and examinations to any women who seeks their help, even teens. Planned Parenthood receives about $350 million each year in government grants and contracts on the local, state and federal levels, which allows women to take precautionary measures against pregnancy. 

Sanger sparked the movement for birth control, witnessed changes being made and watched the movement succeed, but the fight for women was hardly over. There are now organizations like NOW (The National Organization for Women) who take action to further solidify the accomplishments made by Sanger. With 500,000 contributing members, the organization exists to strengthen women equality, and more specifically, to secure abortion, birth control and all reproductive rights. With the actions they take, such as calling out the Department of Human and Health Services, they encourage members to "take action" themselves by donating or writing a letter to further enforce the work they do.

NOW even has a section criticizing women representation, or lack there of, in the mainstream media titled, "NOW's Media Hall of Shame." In one post about Columnist Dan Savage and comedian Marc Maron, NOW's analysis said: "Political topics and satirical humor have always gone hand-in-hand, but joking about the sexual assault of anyone is in no way amusing. Savage and Maron made it very clear that they have different political views from Bachmann and Santorum, but that gives them no right to fantasize about these candidates being the targets of aggressive, unwanted sex."

NOWs founders address the impact of the media on women's lives and for this reason, fight for media justice for women.

In sum, the legacies of Sanger's accomplishments in the Birth Control Movement and toward women empowerment live on in progressive feminist outlets that exist today. Like Sanger did, these sites don't just get mad, they take action!


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