The Pivot of Civilization
Margaret Sanger

Part 3 out of 3

As long as sexual activity is regarded in a dualistic and
contradictory light,--in which it is revealed either as the instrument
by which men and women ``cooperate with the Creator'' to bring
children into the world, on the one hand; and on the other, as the
sinful instrument of self-gratification, lust and sensuality, there is
bound to be an endless conflict in human conduct, producing ever
increasing misery, pain and injustice. In crystallizing and codifying
this contradiction, the Church not only solidified its own power over
men but reduced women to the most abject and prostrate slavery. It
was essentially a morality that would not ``work.'' The sex instinct
in the human race is too strong to be bound by the dictates of any
church. The church's failure, its century after century of failure, is
now evident on every side: for, having convinced men and women that
only in its baldly propagative phase is sexual expression legitimate,
the teachings of the Church have driven sex under-ground, into secret
channels, strengthened the conspiracy of silence, concentrated men's
thoughts upon the ``lusts of the body,'' have sown, cultivated and
reaped a crop of bodily and mental diseases, and developed a society
congenitally and almost hopelessly unbalanced. How is any progress to
be made, how is any human expression or education possible when women
and men are taught to combat and resist their natural impulses and to
despise their bodily functions?

Humanity, we are glad to realize, is rapidly freeing itself from this
``morality'' imposed upon it by its self-appointed and self-
perpetuating masters. From a hundred different points the imposing
edifice of this ``morality'' has been and is being attacked. Sincere
and thoughtful defenders and exponents of the teachings of Christ now
acknowledge the falsity of the traditional codes and their malignant
influence upon the moral and physical well-being of humanity.

Ecclesiastical opposition to Birth Control on the part of certain
representatives of the Protestant churches, based usually on
quotations from the Bible, is equally invalid, and for the same
reason. The attitude of the more intelligent and enlightened clergy
has been well and succinctly expressed by Dean Inge, who, referring to
the ethics of Birth Control, writes: ``THIS IS EMPHATICALLY A MATTER
REFRAIN FROM JUDGING OTHERS.'' We must not neglect the important fact
that it is not merely in the practical results of such a decision, not
in the small number of children, not even in the healthier and better
cared for children, not in the possibility of elevating the living
conditions of the individual family, that the ethical value of Birth
Control alone lies. Precisely because the practice of Birth Control
does demand the exercise of decision, the making of choice, the use of
the reasoning powers, is it an instrument of moral education as well
as of hygienic and racial advance. It awakens the attention of
parents to their potential children. It forces upon the individual
consciousness the question of the standards of living. In a profound
manner it protects and reasserts the inalienable rights of the child-

Psychology and the outlook of modern life are stressing the growth of
independent responsibility and discrimination as the true basis of
ethics. The old traditional morality, with its train of vice,
disease, promiscuity and prostitution, is in reality dying out,
killing itself off because it is too irresponsible and too dangerous
to individual and social well-being. The transition from the old to
the new, like all fundamental changes, is fraught with many dangers.
But it is a revolution that cannot be stopped.

The smaller family, with its lower infant mortality rate, is, in more
definite and concrete manner than many actions outwardly deemed
``moral,'' the expression of moral judgment and responsibility. It is
the assertion of a standard of living, inspired by the wish to obtain
a fuller and more expressive life for the children than the parents
have enjoyed. If the morality or immorality of any course of conduct
is to be determined by the motives which inspire it, there is
evidently at the present day no higher morality than the intelligent
practice of Birth Control.

The immorality of many who practise Birth Control lies in not daring
to preach what they practise. What is the secret of the hypocrisy of
the well-to-do, who are willing to contribute generously to charities
and philanthropies, who spend thousands annually in the upkeep and
sustenance of the delinquent, the defective and the dependent; and yet
join the conspiracy of silence that prevents the poorer classes from
learning how to improve their conditions, and elevate their standards
of living? It is as though they were to cry: ``We'll give you
anything except the thing you ask for--the means whereby you may
become responsible and self-reliant in your own lives.''

The brunt of this injustice falls on women, because the old
traditional morality is the invention of men. ``No religion, no
physical or moral code,'' wrote the clear-sighted George Drysdale,
``proposed by one sex for the other, can be really suitable. Each
must work out its laws for itself in every department of life.'' In
the moral code developed by the Church, women have been so degraded
that they have been habituated to look upon themselves through the
eyes of men. Very imperfectly have women developed their own self-
consciousness, the realization of their tremendous and supreme
position in civilization. Women can develop this power only in one
way; by the exercise of responsibility, by the exercise of judgment,
reason or discrimination. They need ask for no ``rights.'' They need
only assert power. Only by the exercise of self-guidance and
intelligent self-direction can that inalienable, supreme, pivotal
power be expressed. More than ever in history women need to realize
that nothing can ever come to us from another. Everything we attain
we must owe to ourselves. Our own spirit must vitalize it. Our own
heart must feel it. For we are not passive machines. We are not to
be lectured, guided and molded this way or that. We are alive and
intelligent, we women, no less than men, and we must awaken to the
essential realization that we are living beings, endowed with will,
choice, comprehension, and that every step in life must be taken at
our own initiative.

Moral and sexual balance in civilization will only be established by
the assertion and expression of power on the part of women. This power
will not be found in any futile seeking for economic independence or
in the aping of men in industrial and business pursuits, nor by
joining battle for the so-called ``single standard.'' Woman's power
can only be expressed and make itself felt when she refuses the task
of bringing unwanted children into the world to be exploited in
industry and slaughtered in wars. When we refuse to produce
battalions of babies to be exploited; when we declare to the nation;
``Show us that the best possible chance in life is given to every
child now brought into the world, before you cry for more! At present
our children are a glut on the market. You hold infant life cheap.
Help us to make the world a fit place for children. When you have
done this, we will bear you children,--then we shall be true women.''
The new morality will express this power and responsibility on the
part of women.

``With the realization of the moral responsibility of women,'' writes
Havelock Ellis, ``the natural relations of life spring back to their
due biological adjustment. Motherhood is restored to its natural
sacredness. It becomes the concern of the woman herself, and not of
society nor any individual, to determine the conditions under which
the child shall be conceived....''

Moreover, woman shall further assert her power by refusing to remain
the passive instrument of sensual self-gratification on the part of
men. Birth Control, in philosophy and practice, is the destroyer of
that dualism of the old sexual code. It denies that the sole purpose
of sexual activity is procreation; it also denies that sex should be
reduced to the level of sensual lust, or that woman should permit
herself to be the instrument of its satisfaction. In increasing and
differentiating her love demands, woman must elevate sex into another
sphere, whereby it may subserve and enhance the possibility of
individual and human expression. Man will gain in this no less than
woman; for in the age-old enslavement of woman he has enslaved
himself; and in the liberation of womankind, all of humanity will
experience the joys of a new and fuller freedom.

On this great fundamental and pivotal point new light has been thrown
by Lord Bertrand Dawson, the physician of the King of England. In the
remarkable and epoch-making address at the Birmingham Church Congress
(referred to in my introduction), he spoke of the supreme morality of
the mutual and reciprocal joy in the most intimate relation between
man and woman. Without this reciprocity there can be no civilization
worthy of the name. Lord Dawson suggested that there should be added
to the clauses of marriage in the Prayer Book ``the complete
realization of the love of this man and this woman one for another,''
and in support of his contention declared that sex love between
husband and wife--apart from parenthood--was something to prize and
cherish for its own sake. The Lambeth Conference, he remarked,
``envisaged a love invertebrate and joyless,'' whereas, in his view,
natural passion in wedlock was not a thing to be ashamed of or unduly
repressed. The pronouncement of the Church of England, as set forth
in Resolution 68 of the Lambeth Conference seems to imply condemnation
of sex love as such, and to imply sanction of sex love only as a means
to an end,--namely, procreation. The Lambeth Resolution stated:

``In opposition to the teaching which under the name of science and
religion encourages married people in the deliberate cultivation of
sexual union as an end in itself, we steadfastly uphold what must
always be regarded as the governing considerations of Christian
marriage. One is the primary purpose for which marriage exists--
namely, the continuation of the race through the gift and heritage of
children; the other is the paramount importance in married life of
deliberate and thoughtful self-control.''

In answer to this point of view Lord Dawson asserted:

``Sex love has, apart from parenthood, a purport of its own. It is
something to prize and to cherish for its own sake. It is an
essential part of health and happiness in marriage. And now, if you
will allow me, I will carry this argument a step further. If sexual
union is a gift of God it is worth learning how to use it. Within its
own sphere it should be cultivated so as to bring physical
satisfaction to both, not merely to one....The real problems before us
are those of sex love and child love; and by sex love I mean that love
which involves intercourse or the desire for such. It is necessary to
my argument to emphasize that sex love is one of the dominating forces
of the world. Not only does history show the destinies of nations and
dynasties determined by its sway--but here in our every-day life we
see its influence, direct or indirect, forceful and ubiquitous beyond
aught else. Any statesmanlike view, therefore, will recognize that
here we have an instinct so fundamental, so imperious, that its
influence is a fact which has to be accepted; suppress it you cannot.
You may guide it into healthy channels, but an outlet it will have,
and if that outlet is inadequate and unduly obstructed irregular
channels will be forced....

``The attainment of mutual and reciprocal joy in their relations
constitutes a firm bond between two people, and makes for durability
of the marriage tie. Reciprocity in sex love is the physical
counterpart of sympathy. More marriages fail from inadequate and
clumsy sex love than from too much sex love. The lack of proper
understanding is in no small measure responsible for the unfulfilment
of connubial happiness, and every degree of discontent and unhappiness
may, from this cause, occur, leading to rupture of the marriage bond
itself. How often do medical men have to deal with these
difficulties, and how fortunate if such difficulties are disclosed
early enough in married life to be rectified. Otherwise how tragic
may be their consequences, and many a case in the Divorce Court has
thus had its origin. To the foregoing contentions, it might be
objected, you are encouraging passion. My reply would be, passion is
a worthy possession--most men, who are any good, are capable of
passion. You all enjoy ardent and passionate love in art and
literature. Why not give it a place in real life? Why some people
look askance at passion is because they are confusing it with
sensuality. Sex love without passion is a poor, lifeless thing.
Sensuality, on the other hand, is on a level with gluttony--a physical
excess--detached from sentiment, chivalry, or tenderness. It is just
as important to give sex love its place as to avoid its over-emphasis.
Its real and effective restraints are those imposed by a loving and
sympathetic companionship, by the privileges of parenthood, the
exacting claims of career and that civic sense which prompts men to do
social service. Now that the revision of the Prayer Book is receiving
consideration, I should like to suggest with great respect an addition
made to the objects of marriage in the Marriage Service, in these
terms, ``The complete realization of the love of this man and this
woman, the one for the other.''

Turning to the specific problem of Birth Control, Lord Dawson
declared, ``that Birth Control is here to stay. It is an established
fact, and for good or evil has to be accepted. Although the extent of
its application can be and is being modified, no denunciations will
abolish it. Despite the influence and condemnations of the Church, it
has been practised in France for well over half a century, and in
Belgium and other Roman Catholic countries is extending. And if the
Roman Catholic Church, with its compact organization, its power of
authority, and its disciplines, cannot check this procedure, it is not
likely that Protestant Churches will be able to do so, for Protestant
religions depend for their strength on the conviction and esteem they
establish in the heads and hearts of their people. The reasons which
lead parents to limit their offspring are sometimes selfish, but more
often honorable and cogent.''

A report of the Fabian Society [5] on the morality of Birth Control,
based upon a census conducted under the chairmanship of Sidney Webb,
concludes: ``These facts--which we are bound to face whether we like
them or not--will appear in different lights to different people. In
some quarters it seems to be sufficient to dismiss them with moral
indignation, real or simulated. Such a judgment appears both
irrelevant and futile....If a course of conduct is habitually and
deliberately pursued by vast multitudes of otherwise well-conducted
people, forming probably a majority of the whole educated class of the
nation, we must assume that it does not conflict with their actual
code of morality. They may be intellectually mistaken, but they are
not doing what they feel to be wrong.''

The moral justification and ethical necessity of Birth Control need
not be empirically based upon the mere approval of experience and
custom. Its morality is more profound. Birth Control is an ethical
necessity for humanity to-day because it places in our hands a new
instrument of self-expression and self-realization. It gives us
control over one of the primordial forces of nature, to which in the
past the majority of mankind have been enslaved, and by which it has
been cheapened and debased. It arouses us to the possibility of newer
and greater freedom. It develops the power, the responsibility and
intelligence to use this freedom in living a liberated and abundant
life. It permits us to enjoy this liberty without danger of
infringing upon the similar liberty of our fellow men, or of injuring
and curtailing the freedom of the next generation. It shows us that
we need not seek in the amassing of worldly wealth, not in the
illusion of some extra-terrestrial Heaven or earthly Utopia of a
remote future the road to human development. The Kingdom of Heaven is
in a very definite sense within us. Not by leaving our body and our
fundamental humanity behind us, not by aiming to be anything but what
we are, shall we become ennobled or immortal. By knowing ourselves,
by expressing ourselves, by realizing ourselves more completely than
has ever before been possible, not only shall we attain the kingdom
ourselves but we shall hand on the torch of life undimmed to our
children and the children of our children.

[1] Quoted in the National Catholic Welfare Council Bulletin:
Vol. II, No. 5, p. 21 (January, 1921).
[2] Quoted in daily press, December 19, 1921.
[3] H. C. Lea: History of Sacerdotal Celibacy (Philadelphia, 1967).
[4] Eugenics Review, January 1921.
[5] Fabian Tract No. 131.

CHAPTER X: Science the Ally

``There is but one hope. Ignorance, poverty, and vice
must stop populating the world. This cannot be done by
moral suasion. This cannot be done by talk or example.
This cannot be done by religion or by law, by priest
or by hangman. This cannot be done by force, physical
or moral. To accomplish this there is but one way.
Science must make woman the owner, the mistress of herself.
Science, the only possible savior of mankind, must put it
in the power of woman to decide for herself whether she will
or will not become a mother.''

Robert G. Ingersoll

``Science is the great instrument of social change,'' wrote A. J.
Balfour in 1908; ``all the greater because its object is not change
but knowledge, and its silent appropriation of this dominant function,
amid the din of religious and political strife, is the most vital of
all revolutions which have marked the development of modern
civilization.'' The Birth Control movement has allied itself with
science, and no small part of its present propaganda is to awaken the
interest of scientists to the pivotal importance to civilization of
this instrument. Only with the aid of science is it possible to
perfect a practical method that may be universally taught. As Dean
Inge recently admitted: ``We should be ready to give up all our
theories if science proved that we were on the wrong lines.''

One of the principal aims of the American Birth Control League has
been to awaken the interest of scientific investigators and to point
out the rich field for original research opened up by this problem.
The correlation of reckless breeding with defective and delinquent
strains, has not, strangely enough, been subjected to close scientific
scrutiny, nor has the present biological unbalance been traced to its
root. This is a crying necessity of our day, and it cannot be
accomplished without the aid of science.

Secondary only to the response of women themselves is the awakened
interest of scientists, statisticians, and research workers in every
field. If the clergy and the defenders of traditional morality have
opposed the movement for Birth Control, the response of enlightened
scientists and physicians has been one of the most encouraging aids in
our battle.

Recent developments in the realm of science,--in psychology, in
physiology, in chemistry and physics--all tend to emphasize the
immediate necessity for human control over the great forces of nature.
The new ideas published by contemporary science are of the utmost
fascination and illumination even to the layman. They perform the
invaluable task of making us look at life in a new light, of searching
close at hand for the solution to heretofore closed mysteries of life.
In this brief chapter, I can touch these ideas only as they have
proved valuable to me. Professor Soddy's ``Science and Life'' is one
of the most inspiring of recent publications in this field; for this
great authority shows us how closely bound up is science with the
whole of Society, how science must help to solve the great and
disastrous unbalance in human society.

As an example: a whole literature has sprung into being around the
glands, the most striking being ``The Sex Complex'' by Blair Bell.
This author advances the idea of the glandular system as an integral
whole, the glands forming a unity which might be termed the generative
system. Thus is reasserted the radical importance of sexual health to
every individual. The whole tendency of modern physiology and
psychology, in a word, seems gradually coming to the truth that seemed
intuitively to be revealed to that great woman, Olive Schreiner, who,
in ``Woman and Labor'' wrote: ``...Noble is the function of physical
reproduction of humanity by the union of man and woman. Rightly
viewed, that union has in it latent, other and even higher forms of
creative energy and life-dispensing power, and...its history on earth
has only begun; as the first wild rose when it hung from its stem with
its center of stamens and pistils and its single whorl of pale petals
had only begun its course, and was destined, as the ages passed, to
develop stamen upon stamen and petal upon petal, till it assumed a
hundred forms of joy and beauty.

``And it would indeed almost seem, that, on the path toward the
higher development of sexual life on earth, as man has so often had to
lead in other paths, that here it is perhaps woman, by reason of those
very sexual conditions which in the past have crushed and trammeled
her, who is bound to lead the way and man to follow. So that it may
be at last that sexual love--that tired angel who through the ages has
presided over the march of humanity, with distraught eyes, and
feather-shafts broken and wings drabbled in the mires of lust and
greed, and golden locks caked over with the dust of injustice and
oppression--till those looking at him have sometimes cried in terror,
`He is the Evil and not the Good of life': and have sought if it were
not possible, to exterminate him--shall yet, at last, bathed from the
mire and dust of ages in the streams of friendship and freedom, leap
upwards, with white wings spread, resplendent in the sunshine of a
distant future--the essentially Good and Beautiful of human

To-day science is verifying the truth of this inspiring vision.
Certain fundamental truths concerning the basic facts of Nature and
humanity especially impress us. A rapid survey may indicate the main
features of this mysterious identity and antagonism.

Mankind has gone forward by the capture and control of the forces of
Nature. This upward struggle began with the kindling of the first
fire. The domestication of animal life marked another great step in
the long ascent. The capture of the great physical forces, the
discovery of coal and mineral oil, of gas, steam and electricity, and
their adaptation to the everyday uses of mankind, wrought the greatest
changes in the course of civilization. With the discovery of radium
and radioactivity, with the recognition of the vast stores of physical
energy concealed in the atom, humanity is now on the eve of a new
conquest. But, on the other side, humanity has been compelled to
combat continuously those great forces of Nature which have opposed it
at every moment of this long indomitable march out of barbarism.
Humanity has had to wage war against insects, germs, bacteria, which
have spread disease and epidemics and devastation. Humanity has had to
adapt itself to those natural forces it could not conquer but could
only adroitly turn to its own ends. Nevertheless, all along the line,
in colonization, in agriculture, in medicine and in industry, mankind
has triumphed over Nature.

But lest the recognition of this victory lead us to self-satisfaction
and complacency, we should never forget that this mastery consists to
a great extent in a recognition of the power of those blind forces,
and our adroit control over them. It has been truly said that we
attain no power over Nature until we learn natural laws and conform
and adapt ourselves to them.

The strength of the human race has been its ability not merely to
subjugate the forces of Nature, but to adapt itself to those it could
not conquer. And even this subjugation, science tells us, has not
resulted from any attempt to suppress, prohibit, or eradicate these
forces, but rather to transform blind and undirected energies to our
own purposes.

These great natural forces, science now asserts, are not all external.
They are surely concealed within the complex organism of the human
being no less than outside of it. These inner forces are no less
imperative, no less driving and compelling than the external forces of
Nature. As the old conception of the antagonism between body and soul
is broken down, as psychology becomes an ally of physiology and
biology, and biology joins hands with physics and chemistry, we are
taught to see that there is a mysterious unity between these inner and
outer forces. They express themselves in accordance with the same
structural, physical and chemical laws. The development of
civilization in the subjective world, in the sphere of behavior,
conduct and morality, has been precisely the gradual accumulation and
popularization of methods which teach people how to direct, transform
and transmute the driving power of the great natural forces.

Psychology is now recognizing the forces concealed in the human
organism. In the long process of adaptation to social life, men have
had to harness the wishes and desires born of these inner energies,
the greatest and most imperative of which are Sex and Hunger. From
the beginning of time, men have been driven by Hunger into a thousand
activities. It is Hunger that has created ``the struggle for
existence.'' Hunger has spurred men to the discovery and invention of
methods and ways of avoiding starvation, of storing and exchanging
foods. It has developed primitive barter into our contemporary Wall
Streets. It has developed thrift and economy,--expedients whereby
humanity avoids the lash of King Hunger. The true ``economic
interpretation of history'' might be termed the History of Hunger.

But no less fundamental, no less imperative, no less ceaseless in its
dynamic energy, has been the great force of Sex. We do not yet know
the intricate but certainly organic relationship between these two
forces. It is obvious that they oppose yet reinforce each other,--
driving, lashing, spurring mankind on to new conquests or to certain
ruin. Perhaps Hunger and Sex are merely opposite poles of a single
great life force. In the past we have made the mistake of separating
them and attempting to study one of them without the other. Birth
Control emphasizes the need of re-investigation and of knowledge of
their integral relationship, and aims at the solution of the great
problem of Hunger and Sex at one and the same time.

In the more recent past the effort has been made to control,
civilize, and sublimate the great primordial natural force of sex,
mainly by futile efforts at prohibition, suppression, restraint, and
extirpation. Its revenge, as the psychoanalysts are showing us every
day, has been great. Insanity, hysteria, neuroses, morbid fears and
compulsions, weaken and render useless and unhappy thousands of humans
who are unconscious victims of the attempt to pit individual powers
against this great natural force. In the solution of the problem of
sex, we should bear in mind what the successful method of humanity has
been in its conquest, or rather its control of the great physical and
chemical forces of the external world. Like all other energy, that of
sex is indestructible. By adaptation, control and conscious
direction, we may transmute and sublimate it. Without irreparable
injury to ourselves we cannot attempt to eradicate it or extirpate it.

The study of atomic energy, the discovery of radioactivity, and the
recognition of potential and latent energies stored in inanimate
matter, throw a brilliant illumination upon the whole problem of sex
and the inner energies of mankind. Speaking of the discovery of
radium, Professor Soddy writes: ``Tracked to earth the clew to a
great secret for which a thousand telescopes might have swept the sky
forever and in vain, lay in a scrap of matter, dowered with something
of the same inexhaustible radiance that hitherto has been the sole
prerogative of the distant stars and sun.'' Radium, this distinguished
authority tells us, has clothed with its own dignity the whole empire
of common matter.

Much as the atomic theory, with its revelations of the vast treasure
house of radiant energy that lies all about us, offers new hope in the
material world, so the new psychology throws a new light upon human
energies and possibilities of individual expression. Social
reformers, like those scientists of a bygone era who were sweeping the
skies with their telescopes, have likewise been seeking far and wide
for the solution of our social problems in remote and wholesale
panaceas, whereas the true solution is close at hand,--in the human
individual. Buried within each human being lies concealed a vast
store of energy, which awaits release, expression and sublimation. The
individual may profitably be considered as the ``atom'' of society.
And the solution of the problems of society and of civilization will
be brought about when we release the energies now latent and
undeveloped in the individual. Professor Edwin Grant Conklin
expresses the problem in another form; though his analogy, it seems to
me, is open to serious criticism. ``The freedom of the individual
man,'' he writes,[1] ``is to that of society as the freedom of the
single cell is to that of the human being. It is this large freedom
of society, rather than the freedom of the individual, which democracy
offers to the world, free societies, free states, free nations rather
than absolutely free individuals. In all organisms and in all social
organizations, the freedom of the minor units must be limited in order
that the larger unit may achieve a new and greater freedom, and in
social evolution the freedom of individuals must be merged more and
more into the larger freedom of society.''

This analogy does not bear analysis. Restraint and constraint of
individual expression, suppression of individual freedom ``for the
good of society'' has been practised from time immemorial; and its
failure is all too evident. There is no antagonism between the good of
the individual and the good of society. The moment civilization is
wise enough to remove the constraints and prohibitions which now
hinder the release of inner energies, most of the larger evils of
society will perish of inanition and malnutrition. Remove the moral
taboos that now bind the human body and spirit, free the individual
from the slavery of tradition, remove the chains of fear from men and
women, above all answer their unceasing cries for knowledge that would
make possible their self-direction and salvation, and in so doing, you
best serve the interests of society at large. Free, rational and self-
ruling personality would then take the place of self-made slaves, who
are the victims both of external constraints and the playthings of the
uncontrolled forces of their own instincts.

Science likewise illuminates the whole problem of genius. Hidden in
the common stuff of humanity lies buried this power of self-
expression. Modern science is teaching us that genius is not some
mysterious gift of the gods, some treasure conferred upon individuals
chosen by chance. Nor is it, as Lombroso believed, the result of a
pathological and degenerate condition, allied to criminality and
madness. Rather is it due to the removal of physiological and
psychological inhibitions and constraints which makes possible the
release and the channeling of the primordial inner energies of man
into full and divine expression. The removal of these inhibitions, so
scientists assure us, makes possible more rapid and profound
perceptions,--so rapid indeed that they seem to the ordinary human
being, practically instantaneous, or intuitive. The qualities of
genius are not, therefore, qualities lacking in the common reservoir
of humanity, but rather the unimpeded release and direction of powers
latent in all of us. This process of course is not necessarily

This view is substantiated by the opposite problem of feeble-
mindedness. Recent researches throw a new light on this problem and
the contrasting one of human genius. Mental defect and feeble-
mindedness are conceived essentially as retardation, arrest of
development, differing in degree so that the victim is either an
idiot, an imbecile, feeble-minded or a moron, according to the
relative period at which mental development ceases.

Scientific research into the functioning of the ductless glands and
their secretions throws a new light on this problem. Not long ago
these glands were a complete enigma, owing to the fact that they are
not provided with excretory ducts. It has just recently been shown
that these organs, such as the thyroid, the pituitary, the suprarenal,
the parathyroid and the reproductive glands, exercise an all-powerful
influence upon the course of individual development or deficiency.
Gley, to whom we owe much of our knowledge of glandular action, has
asserted that ``the genesis and exercise of the higher faculties of
men are conditioned by the purely chemical action of the product of
these secretions. Let psychologists consider these facts.''

These internal secretions or endocrines pass directly into the blood
stream, and exercise a dominating power over health and personality.
Deficiency in the thyroid secretion, especially during the years of
infancy and early childhood, creates disorders of nutrition and
inactivity of the nervous system. The particular form of idiocy known
as cretinism is the result of this deficiency, which produces an
arrest of the development of the brain cells. The other glands and
their secretions likewise exercise the most profound influence upon
development, growth and assimilation. Most of these glands are of
very small size, none of them larger than a walnut, and some--the
parathyroids--almost microscopic. Nevertheless, they are essential to
the proper maintenance of life in the body, and no less organically
related to mental and psychic development as well.

The reproductive glands, it should not be forgotten, belong to this
group, and besides their ordinary products, the germ and sperm cells
(ova and spermatozoa) form HORMONES which circulate in the blood and
effect changes in the cells of distant parts of the body. Through
these HORMONES the secondary sexual characters are produced, including
the many differences in the form and structure of the body which are
the characteristics of the sexes. Only in recent years has science
discovered that these secondary sexual characters are brought about by
the agency of these internal secretions or hormones, passed from the
reproductive glands into the circulating blood. These so-called
secondary characters which are the sign of full and healthy
development, are dependent, science tells us, upon the state of
development of the reproductive organs.

For a clear and illuminating account of the creative and dynamic power
of the endocrine glands, the layman is referred to a recently
published book by Dr. Louis Berman.[2] This authority reveals anew how
body and soul are bound up together in a complex unity. Our spiritual
and psychic difficulties cannot be solved until we have mastered the
knowledge of the wellsprings of our being. ``The chemistry of the
soul! Magnificent phrase!'' exclaims Dr. Berman. ``It's a long, long
way to that goal. The exact formula is as yet far beyond our reach.
But we have started upon the long journey, and we shall get there.

``The internal secretions constitute and determine much of the
inherited powers of the individual and their development. They
control physical and mental growth, and all the metabolic processes of
fundamental importance. They dominate all the vital functions of man
during the three cycles of life. They cooperate in an intimate
relationship which may be compared to an interlocking directorate. A
derangement of their functions, causing an insufficiency of them, an
excess, or an abnormality, upsets the entire equilibrium of the body,
with transforming effects upon the mind and the organs. In short,
they control human nature, and whoever controls them, controls human

``Blood chemistry of our time is a marvel, undreamed of a generation
ago. Also, these achievements are a perfect example of the
accomplished fact contradicting a prior prediction and criticism. For
it was one of the accepted dogmas of the nineteenth century that the
phenomena of living could never be subjected to accurate quantitative
analysis.'' But the ethical dogmas of the past, no less than the
scientific, may block the way to true civilization.

Physiologically as well as psychologically the development of the
human being, the sane mind in the sound body, is absolutely dependent
upon the functioning and exercise of all the organs in the body. The
``moralists'' who preach abstinence, self-denial, and suppression are
relegated by these findings of impartial and disinterested science to
the class of those educators of the past who taught that it was
improper for young ladies to indulge in sports and athletics and who
produced generations of feeble, undeveloped invalids, bound up by
stays and addicted to swooning and hysterics. One need only go out on
the street of any American city to-day to be confronted with the
victims of the cruel morality of self-denial and ``sin.'' This
fiendish ``morality'' is stamped upon those emaciated bodies,
indelibly written in those emasculated, underdeveloped, undernourished
figures of men and women, in the nervous tension and unrelaxed muscles
denoting the ceaseless vigilance in restraining and suppressing the
expression of natural impulses.

Birth Control is no negative philosophy concerned solely with the
number of children brought into this world. It is not merely a
question of population. Primarily it is the instrument of liberation
and of human development.

It points the way to a morality in which sexual expression and human
development will not be in conflict with the interest and well-being
of the race nor of contemporary society at large. Not only is it the
most effective, in fact the only lever by which the value of the child
can be raised to a civilized point; but it is likewise the only method
by which the life of the individual can be deepened and strengthened,
by which an inner peace and security and beauty may be substituted for
the inner conflict that is at present so fatal to self-expression and

Sublimation of the sexual instinct cannot take place by denying it
expression, nor by reducing it to the plane of the purely
physiological. Sexual experience, to be of contributory value, must
be integrated and assimilated. Asceticism defeats its own purpose
because it develops the obsession of licentious and obscene thoughts,
the victim alternating between temporary victory over ``sin'' and the
remorse of defeat. But the seeker of purely physical pleasure, the
libertine or the average sensualist, is no less a pathological case,
living as one-sided and unbalanced a life as the ascetic, for his
conduct is likewise based on ignorance and lack of understanding. In
seeking pleasure without the exercise of responsibility, in trying to
get something for nothing, he is not merely cheating others but
himself as well.

In still another field science and scientific method now emphasize the
pivotal importance of Birth Control. The Binet-Simon intelligence
tests which have been developed, expanded, and applied to large groups
of children and adults present positive statistical data concerning
the mental equipment of the type of children brought into the world
under the influence of indiscriminate fecundity and of those fortunate
children who have been brought into the world because they are wanted,
the children of conscious, voluntary procreation, well nourished,
properly clothed, the recipients of all that proper care and love can

In considering the data furnished by these intelligence tests we
should remember several factors that should be taken into
consideration. Irrespective of other considerations, children who are
underfed, undernourished, crowded into badly ventilated and unsanitary
homes and chronically hungry cannot be expected to attain the mental
development of children upon whom every advantage of intelligent and
scientific care is bestowed. Furthermore, public school methods of
dealing with children, the course of studies prescribed, may quite
completely fail to awaken and develop the intelligence.

The statistics indicate at any rate a surprisingly low rate of
intelligence among the classes in which large families and
uncontrolled procreation predominate. Those of the lowest grade in
intelligence are born of unskilled laborers (with the highest birth
rate in the community); the next high among the skilled laborers, and
so on to the families of professional people, among whom it is now
admitted that the birth rate is voluntarily controlled.[3]

But scientific investigations of this type cannot be complete until
statistics are accurately obtained concerning the relation of
unrestrained fecundity and the quality, mental and physical, of the
children produced. The philosophy of Birth Control therefore seeks
and asks the cooperation of science and scientists, not to strengthen
its own ``case,'' but because this sexual factor in the determination
of human history has so long been ignored by historians and
scientists. If science in recent years has contributed enormously to
strengthen the conviction of all intelligent people of the necessity
and wisdom of Birth Control, this philosophy in its turn opens to
science in its various fields a suggestive avenue of approach to many
of those problems of humanity and society which at present seem to
enigmatical and insoluble.

[1] Conklin, The Direction of Human Evolution, pp. 125, 126.
[2] The Glands Regulating Personality: A study of the glands
of internal secretion in relation to the types of human nature.
By Louis Berman, M. D., Associate in Biological Chemistry,
Columbia University; Physician to the Special Health Clinic.
Lenox Hill Hospital. New York: 1921.
[3] Cf Terman: Intelligence of School Children. New York 1919.
p. 56. Also, ``Is America Safe for Democracy?'' Six lectures
given at the Lowell Institute of Boston, by William McDougall,
Professor of Psychology in Harvard College. New York, 1921.

CHAPTER XI: Education and Expression

``Civilization is bound up with the success of that movement.
The man who rejoices in it and strives to further it is alive;
the man who shudders and raises impotent hands against it is
merely dead, even though the grave yet yawns for him in vain.
He may make dead laws and preach dead sermons and his sermons
may be great and his laws may be rigid. But as the wisest of
men saw twenty-five centuries ago, the things that are great
and strong and rigid are the things that stay below in the grave.
It is the things that are delicate and tender and supple that
stay above. At no point is life so tender and delicate and
supple as at the point of sex. There is the triumph of life.''

Havelock Ellis

Our approach opens to us a fresh scale of values, a new and effective
method of testing the merits and demerits of current policies and
programs. It redirects our attention to the great source and
fountainhead of human life. It offers us the most strategic point of
view from which to observe and study the unending drama of humanity,--
how the past, the present and the future of the human race are all
organically bound up together. It coordinates heredity and
environment. Most important of all, it frees the mind of sexual
prejudice and taboo, by demanding the frankest and most unflinching
reexamination of sex in its relation to human nature and the bases of
human society. In aiding to establish this mental liberation, quite
apart from any of the tangible results that might please the
statistically-minded, the study of Birth Control is performing an
invaluable task. Without complete mental freedom, it is impossible to
approach any fundamental human problem. Failure to face the great
central facts of sex in an impartial and scientific spirit lies at the
root of the blind opposition to Birth Control.

Our bitterest opponents must agree that the problem of Birth Control
is one of the most important that humanity to-day has to face. The
interests of the entire world, of humanity, of the future of mankind
itself are more at stake in this than wars, political institutions,
or industrial reorganization. All other projects of reform, of
revolution or reconstruction, are of secondary importance, even
trivial, when we compare them to the wholesale regeneration--or
disintegration--that is bound up with the control, the direction and
the release of one of the greatest forces in nature. The great
danger at present does not lie with the bitter opponents of the idea
of Birth Control, nor with those who are attempting to suppress our
program of enlightenment and education. Such opposition is always
stimulating. It wins new adherents. It reveals its own weakness and
lack of insight. The greater danger is to be found in the flaccid,
undiscriminating interest of ``sympathizers'' who are ``for it''--as
an accessory to their own particular panacea. ``It even seems,
sometimes,'' wrote the late William Graham Sumner, ``as if the
primitive people were working along better lines of effort in this
direction than we are...when our public organs of instruction taboo
all that pertains to reproduction as improper; and when public
authority, ready enough to interfere with personal liberty everywhere
else, feels bound to act as if there were no societal interest at
stake in the begetting of the next generation.''[1]

Slowly but surely we are breaking down the taboos that surround sex;
but we are breaking them down out of sheer necessity. The codes that
have surrounded sexual behavior in the so-called Christian
communities, the teachings of the churches concerning chastity and
sexual purity, the prohibitions of the laws, and the hypocritical
conventions of society, have all demonstrated their failure as
safeguards against the chaos produced and the havoc wrought by the
failure to recognize sex as a driving force in human nature,--as great
as, if indeed not greater than, hunger. Its dynamic energy is
indestructible. It may be transmuted, refined, directed, even
sublimated, but to ignore, to neglect, to refuse to recognize this
great elemental force is nothing less than foolhardy.

Out of the unchallenged policies of continence, abstinence,
``chastity'' and ``purity,'' we have reaped the harvests of
prostitution, venereal scourges and innumerable other evils.
Traditional moralists have failed to recognize that chastity and
purity must be the outward symptoms of awakened intelligence, of
satisfied desires, and fulfilled love. They cannot be taught by ``sex
education.'' They cannot be imposed from without by a denial of the
might and the right of sexual expression. Nevertheless, even in the
contemporary teaching of sex hygiene and social prophylaxis, nothing
constructive is offered to young men and young women who seek aid
through the trying period of adolescence.

At the Lambeth Conference of 1920, the Bishops of the Church of
England stated in their report on their considerations of sexual
morality: ``Men should regard all women as they do their mothers,
sisters, and daughters; and women should dress only in such a manner
as to command respect from every man. All right-minded persons should
unite in the suppression of pernicious literature, plays and
films....'' Could lack of psychological insight and understanding be
more completely indicated? Yet, like these bishops, most of those who
are undertaking the education of the young are as ignorant themselves
of psychology and physiology. Indeed, those who are speaking
belatedly of the need of ``sexual hygiene'' seem to be unaware that
they themselves are most in need of it. ``We must give up the futile
attempt to keep young people in the dark,'' cries Rev. James Marchant
in ``Birth-Rate and Empire,'' ``and the assumption that they are
ignorant of notorious facts. We cannot, if we would, stop the spread
of sexual knowledge; and if we could do so, we would only make matters
infinitely worse. This is the second decade of the twentieth century,
not the early Victorian period.... It is no longer a question of
knowing or not knowing. We have to disabuse our middle-aged minds of
that fond delusion. Our young people know more than we did when we
began our married lives, and sometimes as much as we know, ourselves,
even now. So that we need not continue to shake our few remaining
hairs in simulating feelings of surprise or horror. It might have
been better for us if we had been more enlightened. And if our
discussion of this problem is to be of any real use, we must at the
outset reconcile ourselves to the fact that the birth-rate is
voluntarily controlled....Certain persons who instruct us in these
matter, hold up their pious hands and whiten their frightened faces as
they cry out in the public squares against `this vice,' but they can
only make themselves ridiculous.''

Taught upon the basis of conventional and traditional morality and
middle-class respectability, based on current dogma, and handed down
to the populace with benign condescension, sex education is a waste of
time and effort. Such education cannot in any true sense set up as a
standard the ideal morality and behavior of the respectable middle-
class and then make the effort to induce all other members of society,
especially the working classes, to conform to their taboos. Such a
method is not only confusing, but, in the creation of strain and
hysteria and an unhealthy concentration upon moral conduct, results in
positive injury. To preach a negative and colorless ideal of chastity
to young men and women is to neglect the primary duty of awakening
their intelligence, their responsibility, their self-reliance and
independence. Once this is accomplished, the matter of chastity will
take care of itself. The teaching of ``etiquette'' must be
superseded by the teaching of hygiene. Hygienic habits are built up
upon a sound knowledge of bodily needs and functions. It is only in
the sphere of sex that there remains an unfounded fear of presenting
without the gratuitous introduction of non-essential taboos and
prejudice, unbiased and unvarnished facts.

As an instrument of education, the doctrine of Birth Control
approaches the whole problem in another manner. Instead of laying
down hard and fast laws of sexual conduct, instead of attempting to
inculcate rules and regulations, of pointing out the rewards of virtue
and the penalties of ``sin'' (as is usually attempted in relation to
the venereal diseases), the teacher of Birth Control seeks to meet the
needs of the people. Upon the basis of their interests, their
demands, their problems, Birth Control education attempts to develop
their intelligence and show them how they may help themselves; how to
guide and control this deep-rooted instinct.

The objection has been raised that Birth Control only reaches the
already enlightened, the men and women who have already attained a
degree of self-respect and self-reliance. Such an objection could not
be based on fact. Even in the most unenlightened sections of the
community, among mothers crushed by poverty and economic enslavement,
there is the realization of the evils of the too-large family, of the
rapid succession of pregnancy after pregnancy, of the hopelessness of
bringing too many children into the world. Not merely in the evidence
presented in an earlier chapter but in other ways, is this crying need
expressed. The investigators of the Children's Bureau who collected
the data of the infant mortality reports, noted the willingness and
the eagerness with which these down-trodden mothers told the truth
about themselves. So great is their hope of relief from that
meaningless and deadening submission to unproductive reproduction,
that only a society pruriently devoted to hypocrisy could refuse to
listen to the voices of these mothers. Respectfully we lend our ears
to dithyrambs about the sacredness of motherhood and the value of
``better babies''--but we shut our eyes and our ears to the unpleasant
reality and the cries of pain that come from women who are to-day
dying by the thousands because this power is withheld from them.

This situation is rendered more bitterly ironic because the self-
righteous opponents of Birth Control practise themselves the doctrine
they condemn. The birth-rate among conservative opponents indicates
that they restrict the numbers of their own children by the methods of
Birth Control, or are of such feeble procreative energy as to be
thereby unfitted to dictate moral laws for other people. They prefer
that we should think their small number of children is accidental,
rather than publicly admit the successful practice of intelligent
foresight. Or else they hold themselves up as paragons of virtue and
self-control, and would have us believe that they have brought their
children into the world solely from a high, stern sense of public
duty--an attitude which is about as convincing as it would be to
declare that they found them under gooseberry bushes. How else can we
explain the widespread tolerance and smug approval of the clerical
idea of sex, now reenforced by floods of crude and vulgar sentiment,
which is promulgated by the press, motion-pictures and popular plays?

Like all other education, that of sex can be rendered effective and
valuable only as it meets and satisfies the interests and demands of
the pupil himself. It cannot be imposed from without, handed down
from above, superimposed upon the intelligence of the person taught.
It must find a response within him, give him the power and the
instrument wherewith he may exercise his own growing intelligence,
bring into action his own judgment and discrimination and thus
contribute to the growth of his intelligence. The civilized world is
coming to see that education cannot consist merely in the assimilation
of external information and knowledge, but rather in the awakening and
development of innate powers of discrimination and judgment. The
great disaster of ``sex education'' lies in the fact that it fails to
direct the awakened interests of the pupils into the proper channels
of exercise and development. Instead, it blunts them, restricts them,
hinders them, and even attempts to eradicate them.

This has been the great defect of sex education as it has been
practised in recent years. Based on a superficial and shameful view of
the sexual instinct, it has sought the inculcation of negative virtues
by pointing out the sinister penalties of promiscuity, and by
advocating strict adherence to virtue and morality, not on the basis
of intelligence or the outcome of experience, not even for the
attainment of rewards, but merely to avoid punishment in the form of
painful and malignant disease. Education so conceived carries with it
its own refutation. True education cannot tolerate the inculcation of
fear. Fear is the soil in which are implanted inhibitions and morbid
compulsions. Fear restrains, restricts, hinders human expression. It
strikes at the very roots of joy and happiness. It should therefore
be the aim of sex education to avoid above all the implanting of fear
in the mind of the pupil.

Restriction means placing in the hands of external authority the power
over behavior. Birth Control, on the contrary, implies voluntary
action, the decision for one's self how many children one shall or
shall not bring into the world. Birth Control is educational in the
real sense of the word, in that it asserts this power of decision,
reinstates this power in the people themselves.

We are not seeking to introduce new restrictions but greater freedom.
As far as sex is concerned, the impulse has been more thoroughly
subject to restriction than any other human instinct. ``Thou shalt
not!'' meets us at every turn. Some of these restrictions are
justified; some of them are not. We may have but one wife or one
husband at a time; we must attain a certain age before we may marry.
Children born out of wedlock are deemed ``illegitimate''--even healthy
children. The newspapers every day are filled with the scandals of
those who have leaped over the restrictions or limitations society has
written in her sexual code. Yet the voluntary control of the
procreative powers, the rational regulation of the number of children
we bring into the world--this is the one type of restriction frowned
upon and prohibited by law!

In a more definite, a much more realistic and concrete manner, Birth
Control reveals itself as the most effective weapon in the spread of
hygienic and prophylactic knowledge among women of the less fortunate
classes. It carries with it a thorough training in bodily
cleanliness and physiology, a definite knowledge of the physiology and
function of sex. In refusing to teach both sides of the subject, in
failing to respond to the universal demand among women for such
instruction and information, maternity centers limit their own efforts
and fail to fulfil what should be their true mission. They are
concerned merely with pregnancy, maternity, child-bearing, the problem
of keeping the baby alive. But any effective work in this field must
go further back. We have gradually come to see, as Havelock Ellis has
pointed out, that comparatively little can be done by improving merely
the living conditions of adults; that improving conditions for
children and babies is not enough. To combat the evils of infant
mortality, natal and pre-natal care is not sufficient. Even to
improve the conditions for the pregnant woman, is insufficient.
Necessarily and inevitably, we are led further and further back, to
the point of procreation; beyond that, into the regulation of sexual
selection. The problem becomes a circle. We cannot solve one part of
it without a consideration of the entirety. But it is especially at
the point of creation where all the various forces are concentrated.
Conception must be controlled by reason, by intelligence, by science,
or we lose control of all its consequences.

Birth Control is essentially an education for women. It is women who,
directly and by their very nature, bear the burden of that blindness,
ignorance and lack of foresight concerning sex which is now enforced
by law and custom. Birth Control places in the hands of women the
only effective instrument whereby they may reestablish the balance in
society, and assert, not only theoretically but practically as well,
the primary importance of the woman and the child in civilization.

Birth Control is thus the stimulus to education. Its exercise awakens
and develops the sense of self-reliance and responsibility, and
illuminates the relation of the individual to society and to the race
in a manner that otherwise remains vague and academic. It reveals sex
not merely as an untamed and insatiable natural force to which men and
women must submit hopelessly and inertly, as it sweeps through them,
and then accept it with abject humility the hopeless and heavy
consequences. Instead, it places in their hands the power to control
this great force; to use it, to direct it into channels in which it
becomes the energy enhancing their lives and increasing self-
expression and self-development. It awakens in women the
consciousness of new glories and new possibilities in motherhood. No
longer the prostrate victim of the blind play of instinct but the
self-reliant mistress of her body and her own will, the new mother
finds in her child the fulfilment of her own desires. In free instead
of compulsory motherhood she finds the avenue of her own development
and expression. No longer bound by an unending series of pregnancies,
at liberty to safeguard the development of her own children, she may
now extend her beneficent influence beyond her own home. In becoming
thus intensified, motherhood may also broaden and become more
extensive as well. The mother sees that the welfare of her own
children is bound up with the welfare of all others. Not upon the
basis of sentimental charity or gratuitous ``welfare-work'' but upon
that of enlightened self-interest, such a mother may exert her
influence among the less fortunate and less enlightened.

Unless based upon this central knowledge of and power over her own
body and her own instincts, education for woman is valueless. As long
as she remains the plaything of strong, uncontrolled natural forces,
as long as she must docilely and humbly submit to the decisions of
others, how can woman every lay the foundations of self-respect, self-
reliance and independence? How can she make her own choice, exercise
her own discrimination, her own foresight?

In the exercise of these powers, in the building up and integration of
her own experience, in mastering her own environment the true
education of woman must be sought. And in the sphere of sex, the
great source and root of all human experience, it is upon the basis of
Birth Control--the voluntary direction of her own sexual expression--
that woman must take her first step in the assertion of freedom and

[1] Folkways, p. 492.

CHAPTER XII: Woman and the Future

I saw a woman sleeping. In her sleep she dreamed Life stood
before her, and held in each hand a gift--in the one Love, in
the other Freedom. And she said to the woman, ``Choose!''

And the woman waited long: and she said, ``Freedom!''

And Life said, ``Thou has well chosen. If thou hadst said,
`Love,' I would have given thee that thou didst ask for; and
I would have gone from thee, and returned to thee no more.
Now, the day will come when I shall return. In that day I
shall bear both gifts in one hand.''

I heard the woman laugh in her sleep.

Olive Schreiner

By no means is it necessary to look forward to some vague and distant
date of the future to test the benefits which the human race derives
from the program I have suggested in the preceding pages. The results
to the individual woman, to the family, and to the State, particularly
in the case of Holland, have already been investigated and recorded.
Our philosophy is no doctrine of escape from the immediate and
pressing realities of life. on the contrary, we say to men and women,
and particularly to the latter: face the realities of your own soul
and body; know thyself! And in this last admonition, we mean that this
knowledge should not consist of some vague shopworn generalities about
the nature of woman--woman as created in the minds of men, nor woman
putting herself on a romantic pedestal above the harsh facts of this
workaday world. Women can attain freedom only by concrete, definite
knowledge of themselves, a knowledge based on biology, physiology and

Nevertheless it would be wrong to shut our eyes to the vision of a
world of free men and women, a world which would more closely resemble
a garden than the present jungle of chaotic conflicts and fears. One
of the greatest dangers of social idealists, to all of us who hope to
make a better world, is to seek refuge in highly colored fantasies of
the future rather than to face and combat the bitter and evil
realities which to-day on all sides confront us. I believe that the
reader of my preceding chapters will not accuse me of shirking these
realities; indeed, he may think that I have overemphasized the great
biological problems of defect, delinquency and bad breeding. It is in
the hope that others too may glimpse my vision of a world regenerated
that I submit the following suggestions. They are based on the belief
that we must seek individual and racial health not by great political
or social reconstruction, but, turning to a recognition of our own
inherent powers and development, by the release of our inner energies.
It is thus that all of us can best aid in making of this world,
instead of a vale of tears, a garden.

Let us first of all consider merely from the viewpoint of business and
``efficiency'' the biological or racial problems which confront us. As
Americans, we have of late made much of ``efficiency'' and business
organization. Yet would any corporation for one moment conduct its
affairs as we conduct the infinitely more important affairs of our
civilization? Would any modern stockbreeder permit the deterioration
of his livestock as we not only permit but positively encourage the
destruction and deterioration of the most precious, the most essential
elements in our world community--the mothers and children. With the
mothers and children thus cheapened, the next generation of men and
women is inevitably below par. The tendency of the human elements,
under present conditions, is constantly downward.

Turn to Robert M. Yerkes's ``Psychological Examining in the United
States Army''[1] in which we are informed that the psychological
examination of the drafted men indicated that nearly half--47.3 per
cent.--of the population had the mentality of twelve-year-old children
or less--in other words that they are morons. Professor Conklin, in
his recently published volume ``The Direction of Human Evolution''[2]
is led, on the findings of Mr. Yerkes's report, to assert: ``Assuming
that these drafted men are a fair sample of the entire population of
approximately 100,000,000, this means that 45,000,000 or nearly one-
half the entire population, will never develop mental capacity beyond
the stage represented by a normal twelve-year-old child, and that only
13,500,000 will ever show superior intelligence.''

Making all due allowances for the errors and discrepancies of the
psychological examination, we are nevertheless face to face with a
serious and destructive practice. Our ``overhead'' expense in
segregating the delinquent, the defective and the dependent, in
prisons, asylums and permanent homes, our failure to segregate morons
who are increasing and multiplying--I have sufficiently indicated,
though in truth I have merely scratched the surface of this
international menace--demonstrate our foolhardy and extravagant
sentimentalism. No industrial corporation could maintain its existence
upon such a foundation. Yet hardheaded ``captains of industry,''
financiers who pride themselves upon their cool-headed and keen-
sighted business ability are dropping millions into rosewater
philanthropies and charities that are silly at best and vicious at
worst. In our dealings with such elements there is a bland
maladministration and misuse of huge sums that should in all
righteousness be used for the development and education of the healthy
elements of the community.

At the present time, civilized nations are penalizing talent and
genius, the bearers of the torch of civilization, to coddle and
perpetuate the choking human undergrowth, which, as all authorities
tell us, is escaping control and threatens to overrun the whole garden
of humanity. Yet men continue to drug themselves with the opiate of
optimism, or sink back upon the cushions of Christian resignation,
their intellectual powers anaesthetized by cheerful platitudes. Or
else, even those, who are fully cognizant of the chaos and conflict,
seek an escape in those pretentious but fundamentally fallacious
social philosophies which place the blame for contemporary world
misery upon anybody or anything except the indomitable but
uncontrolled instincts of living organisms. These men fight with
shadows and forget the realities of existence. Too many centuries
have we sought to hide from the inevitable, which confronts us at
every step throughout life.

Let us conceive for the moment at least, a world not burdened by the
weight of dependent and delinquent classes, a total population of
mature, intelligent, critical and expressive men and women. Instead
of the inert, exploitable, mentally passive class which now forms the
barren substratum of our civilization, try to imagine a population
active, resistant, passing individual and social lives of the most
contented and healthy sort. Would such men and women, liberated from
our endless, unceasing struggle against mass prejudice and inertia, be
deprived in any way of the stimulating zest of life? Would they sink
into a slough of complacency and fatuity?

No! Life for them would be enriched, intensified and ennobled in a
fashion it is difficult for us in our spiritual and physical squalor
even to imagine. There would be a new renaissance of the arts and
sciences. Awakened at last to the proximity of the treasures of life
lying all about them, the children of that age would be inspired by a
spirit of adventure and romance that would indeed produce a
terrestrial paradise.

Let us look forward to this great release of creative and constructive
energy, not as an idle, vacuous mirage, but as a promise which we, as
the whole human race, have it in our power, in the very conduct of our
lives from day to day, to transmute into a glorious reality. Let us
look forward to that era, perhaps not so distant as we believe, when
the great adventures in the enchanted realm of the arts and sciences
may no longer be the privilege of a gifted few, but the rightful
heritage of a race of genius. In such a world men and women would no
longer seek escape from themselves by the fantastic and the faraway.
They would be awakened to the realization that the source of life, of
happiness, is to be found not outside themselves, but within, in the
healthful exercise of their God-given functions. The treasures of
life are not hidden; they are close at hand, so close that we overlook
them. We cheat ourselves with a pitiful fear of ourselves. Men and
women of the future will not seek happiness; they will have gone
beyond it. Mere happiness would produce monotony. And their lives
shall be lives of change and variety with the thrills produced by
experiment and research.

Fear will have been abolished: first of all, the fear of outside
things and other people; finally the fear of oneself. And with these
fears must disappear forever all those poisons of hatreds, individual
and international. For the realization would come that there would be
no reason for, no value in encroaching upon, the freedom of one
another. To-day we are living in a world which is like a forest of
trees too thickly planted. Hence the ferocious, unending struggle for
existence. Like innumerable ages past, the present age is one of
mutual destruction. Our aim is to substitute cooperation, equity, and
amity for antagonism and conflict. If the aim of our country or our
civilization is to attain a hollow, meaningless superiority over
others in aggregate wealth and population, it may be sound policy to
shut our eyes to the sacrifice of human life,--unregarded life and
suffering--and to stimulate rapid procreation. But even so, such a
policy is bound in the long run to defeat itself, as the decline and
fall of great civilizations of the past emphatically indicate. Even
the bitterest opponent of our ideals would refuse to subscribe to a
philosophy of mere quantity, of wealth and population lacking in
spiritual direction or significance. All of us hope for and look
forward to the fine flowering of human genius--of genius not expending
and dissipating its energy in the bitter struggle for mere existence,
but developing to a fine maturity, sustained and nourished by the soil
of active appreciation, criticism, and recognition.

Not by denying the central and basic biological facts of our nature,
not by subscribing to the glittering but false values of any
philosophy or program of escape, not by wild Utopian dreams of the
brotherhood of men, not by any sanctimonious debauch of sentimentality
or religiosity, may we accomplish the first feeble step toward
liberation. On the contrary, only by firmly planting our feet on the
solid ground of scientific fact may we even stand erect--may we even
rise from the servile stooping posture of the slave, borne down by the
weight of age-old oppression.

In looking forward to this radiant release of the inner energies of a
regenerated humanity, I am not thinking merely of inventions and
discoveries and the application of these to the perfecting of the
external and mechanical details of social life. This external and
scientific perfecting of the mechanism of external life is a
phenomenon we are to a great extent witnessing today. But in a deeper
sense this tendency can be of no true or lasting value if it cannot be
made to subserve the biological and spiritual development of the human
organism, individual and collective. Our great problem is not merely
to perfect machinery, to produce superb ships, motor cars or great
buildings, but to remodel the race so that it may equal the amazing
progress we see now making in the externals of life. We must first
free our bodies from disease and predisposition to disease. We must
perfect these bodies and make them fine instruments of the mind and
the spirit. Only thus, when the body becomes an aid instead of a
hindrance to human expression may we attain any civilization worthy of
the name. Only thus may we create our bodies a fitting temple for the
soul, which is nothing but a vague unreality except insofar as it is
able to manifest itself in the beauty of the concrete.

Once we have accomplished the first tentative steps toward the
creation of a real civilization, the task of freeing the spirit of
mankind from the bondage of ignorance, prejudice and mental passivity
which is more fettering now than ever in the history of humanity, will
be facilitated a thousand-fold. The great central problem, and one
which must be taken first is the abolition of the shame and fear of
sex. We must teach men the overwhelming power of this radiant force.
We must make them understand that uncontrolled, it is a cruel tyrant,
but that controlled and directed, it may be used to transmute and
sublimate the everyday world into a realm of beauty and joy. Through
sex, mankind may attain the great spiritual illumination which will
transform the world, which will light up the only path to an earthly
paradise. So must we necessarily and inevitably conceive of sex-
expression. The instinct is here. None of us can avoid it. It is in
our power to make it a thing of beauty and a joy forever: or to deny
it, as have the ascetics of the past, to revile this expression and
then to pay the penalty, the bitter penalty that Society to-day is
paying in innumerable ways.

If I am criticized for the seeming ``selfishness'' of this conception
it will be through a misunderstanding. The individual is fulfiling
his duty to society as a whole by not self-sacrifice but by self-
development. He does his best for the world not by dying for it, not
by increasing the sum total of misery, disease and unhappiness, but by
increasing his own stature, by releasing a greater energy, by being
active instead of passive, creative instead of destructive. This is
fundamentally the greatest truth to be discovered by womankind at
large. And until women are awakened to their pivotal function in the
creation of a new civilization, that new era will remain an impossible
and fantastic dream. The new civilization can become a glorious
reality only with the awakening of woman's now dormant qualities of
strength, courage, and vigor. As a great thinker of the last century
pointed out, not only to her own health and happiness is the physical
degeneracy of woman destructive, but to our whole race. The physical
and psychic power of woman is more indispensable to the well-being
and power of the human race than that even of man, for the strength
and happiness of the child is more organically united with that of the

Parallel with the awakening of woman's interest in her own fundamental
nature, in her realization that her greatest duty to society lies in
self-realization, will come a greater and deeper love for all of
humanity. For in attaining a true individuality of her own she will
understand that we are all individuals, that each human being is
essentially implicated in every question or problem which involves the
well-being of the humblest of us. So to-day we are not to meet the
great problems of defect and delinquency in any merely sentimental or
superficial manner, but with the firmest and most unflinching attitude
toward the true interest of our fellow beings. It is from no mere
feeling of brotherly love or sentimental philanthropy that we women
must insist upon enhancing the value of child life. It is because we
know that, if our children are to develop to their full capabilities,
all children must be assured a similar opportunity. Every single case
of inherited defect, every malformed child, every congenitally
tainted human being brought into this world is of infinite importance
to that poor individual; but it is of scarcely less importance to the
rest of us and to all of our children who must pay in one way or
another for these biological and racial mistakes. We look forward in
our vision of the future to children brought into the world because
they are desired, called from the unknown by a fearless and conscious
passion, because women and men need children to complete the symmetry
of their own development, no less than to perpetuate the race. They
shall be called into a world enhanced and made beautiful by the spirit
of freedom and romance--into a world wherein the creatures of our new
day, unhampered and unbound by the sinister forces of prejudice and
immovable habit, may work out their own destinies. Perhaps we may
catch fragmentary glimpses of this new life in certain societies of
the past, in Greece perhaps; but in all of these past civilizations
these happy groups formed but a small exclusive section of the
population. To-day our task is greater; for we realize that no
section of humanity can be reclaimed without the regeneration of the

I look, therefore, into a Future when men and women will not dissipate
their energy in the vain and fruitless search for content outside of
themselves, in far-away places or people. Perfect masters of their own
inherent powers, controlled with a fine understanding of the art of
life and of love, adapting themselves with pliancy and intelligence to
the milieu in which they find themselves, they will unafraid enjoy
life to the utmost. Women will for the first time in the unhappy
history of this globe establish a true equilibrium and ``balance of
power'' in the relation of the sexes. The old antagonism will have
disappeared, the old ill-concealed warfare between men and women. For
the men themselves will comprehend that in this cultivation of the
human garden they will be rewarded a thousand times. Interest in the
vague sentimental fantasies of extra-mundane existence, in
pathological or hysterical flights from the realities of our
earthliness, will have through atrophy disappeared, for in that dawn
men and women will have come to the realization, already suggested,
that here close at hand is our paradise, our everlasting abode, our
Heaven and our eternity. Not by leaving it and our essential humanity
behind us, nor by sighing to be anything but what we are, shall we
ever become ennobled or immortal. Not for woman only, but for all of
humanity is this the field where we must seek the secret of eternal

[1] Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. Volume XV.
[2] Conklin, The Direction of Human Evolution. ``When it is
remembered that mental capacity is inherited, that parents of
low intelligence generally produce children of low intelligence,
and that on the average they have more children than persons of
high intelligence, and furthermore, when we consider that the
intellectual capacity or `mental age' can be changed very little
by education, we are in a position to appreciate the very serious
condition which confronts us as a nation.'' p. 108.




The complex problems now confronting America as the result of the
practice of reckless procreation are fast threatening to grow beyond
human control.

Everywhere we see poverty and large families going hand in hand.
Those least fit to carry on the race are increasing most rapidly.
People who cannot support their own offspring are encouraged by Church
and State to produce large families. Many of the children thus
begotten are diseased or feeble-minded; many become criminals. The
burden of supporting these unwanted types has to be bourne by the
healthy elements of the nation. Funds that should be used to raise
the standard of our civilization are diverted to the maintenance of
those who should never have been born.

In addition to this grave evil we witness the appalling waste of
women's health and women's lives by too frequent pregnancies. These
unwanted pregnancies often provoke the crime of abortion, or
alternatively multiply the number of child-workers and lower the
standard of living.

To create a race of well born children it is essential that the
function of motherhood should be elevated to a position of dignity,
and this is impossible as long as conception remains a matter of

We hold that children should be

1. Conceived in love;
2. Born of the mother's conscious desire;
3. And only begotten under conditions which
render possible the heritage of health.

Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom
to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied.

Every mother must realize her basic position in human society. She
must be conscious of her responsibility to the race in bringing
children into the world.

Instead of being a blind and haphazard consequence of uncontrolled
instinct, motherhood must be made the responsible and self-directed
means of human expression and regeneration.

These purposes, which are of fundamental importance to the whole of
our nation and to the future of mankind, can only be attained if women
first receive practical scientific education in the means of Birth
Control. That, therefore, is the first object to which the efforts of
this League will be directed.


The American Birth Control League aims to enlighten and educate all
sections of the American public in the various aspects of the dangers
of uncontrolled procreation and the imperative necessity of a world
program of Birth Control.

The League aims to correlate the findings of scientists,
statisticians, investigators, and social agencies in all fields. To
make this possible, it is necessary to organize various departments:

RESEARCH: To collect the findings of scientists, concerning the
relation of reckless breeding to the evils of delinquency, defect and

INVESTIGATION: To derive from these scientifically ascertained facts
and figures, conclusions which may aid all public health and social
agencies in the study of problems of maternal and infant mortality,
child-labor, mental and physical defects and delinquence in relation
to the practice of reckless parentage.

HYGIENIC AND PHYSIOLOGICAL instruction by the Medical profession to
mothers and potential mothers in harmless and reliable methods of
Birth Control in answer to their requests for such knowledge.

STERILIZATION of the insane and feebleminded and the encouragement of
this operation upon those afflicted with inherited or transmissible
diseases, with the understanding that sterilization does not deprive
the individual of his or her sex expression, but merely renders him
incapable of producing children.

EDUCATIONAL: The program of education includes: The enlightenment of
the public at large, mainly through the education of leaders of
thought and opinion--teachers, ministers, editors and writers--to the
moral and scientific soundness of the principles of Birth Control and
the imperative necessity of its adoption as the basis of national and
racial progress.

POLITICAL AND LEGISLATIVE: To enlist the support and cooperation of
legal advisers, statesmen and legislators in effecting the removal of
state and federal statutes which encourage dysgenic breeding, increase
the sum total of disease, misery and poverty and prevent the
establishment of a policy of national health and strength.

ORGANIZATION: To send into the various States of the Union field
workers to enlist the support and arouse the interest of the masses,
to the importance of Birth Control so that laws may be changed and the
establishment of clinics made possible in every State.

INTERNATIONAL: This department aims to cooperate with similar
organizations in other countries to study Birth Control in its
relations to the world population problem, food supplies, national and
racial conflicts, and to urge upon all international bodies organized
to promote world peace, the consideration of these aspects of
international amity.

THE AMERICAN BIRTH CONTROL LEAGUE proposes to publish in its official
organ ``The Birth Control Review,'' reports and studies on the
relationship of controlled and uncontrolled populations to national
and world problems.

The American Birth Control League also proposes to hold an annual
Conference to bring together the workers of the various departments so
that each worker may realize the inter-relationship of all the various
phases of the problem to the end that National education will tend to
encourage and develop the powers of self-direction, self-reliance, and
independence in the individuals of the community instead of dependence
for relief upon public or private charities.


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