Skip to main content

tv   Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement  CSPAN  January 17, 2015 8:30am-9:54am EST

8:30 am
of 77, his wife had predeceased him, they have the daughter sarita and her husband and they supported it so much that they paid the taxes here until the city accepted it as a gift. it took two years for the city to accept it. people were reluctant because of the responsibility. but they accepted in 1928. it was named oglebay and his farm best -- in his honor. by think of the park is a great heritage today. people are surprised when they find out it is a city park, one of the guest in the country. -- biggest in the country. >> throughout the weekend, american history tv is featuring wheeling, west virginia. our tour staff recently traveled there to learn its history. learn more about it and other stops at www.c-span.org
8:31 am
/localcontent. you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span. up next, a discussion about the 20th century birth control advocate margaret sanger and her legacy. we hear from a panel of historians, activists, and her own grandson. they discuss the impact of race, social class, and politics on the birth-control movement. this is about an hour and 20 minutes. >> good evening, ladies and gentlemen. i think we will get started. we are expecting lots more people, but we don't know what the traffic or the subway situation is. i am susan henshaw jones, i am also the ronay menschel director of the museum of the city of new york. i am so delighted to welcome you
8:32 am
all here for this program. women rebels, margaret sanger and the birth-control movement at 100. tonight, author and journalist katha pollitt will lead a conversation with activists and scholars of the productive rights movement. sanger biographer, ellen chesler, reproductive justice activist loretta ross, and historian linda gordon. to mark the 100th anniversary of the movement's origins in 1914, they will discuss sanger's legacy and the birth-control movement for activists today. and i really do thank c-span for recognizing the importance of this milestone, and for being here to record tonight's program.
8:33 am
this is part of our ongoing activist new york series. all of which are sponsored by the puffin foundation. our series is done in conjunction with an exhibition on the second floor called "activist new york," which looks at new york city history from 1654 right up until 2009. it looks at new york city's history through the lens of social activism. so, i really do -- i see that you do not know about this -- do we have it open afterwards sarah? not tonight? can we do it? can angel open it? yeah, for anybody who has not seen it, you absolutely have to see this. that is terrific.
8:34 am
we do have courageous women in that gallery. but i also think that i have to tell you we have a courageous woman right here in our curator for social activism, sarah sideman. i think that we may be the only museum in the country -- maybe that is too broad -- to have a curator of social activism on our staff, fulltime. it is really wonderful. that, too, is by virtue of the puffin foundation. but what we're talking about today, activism is not only historical. we witnessed widespread activism last night, and i am certain that something is going on now. my husband in foley square says that there are thousands of people there.
8:35 am
i am delighted. activism is an essential democratic function. we are so very happy here at the museum to celebrate responsible activism in the history of our state. -- city. tonight, we have a great cosponsor in planned parenthood new york. i thank them. i also want to thank the margaret sanger papers project at nyu for their cosponsorship as well. tonight's speakers, ellen chesler is right here to my left. ellen is a senior fellow at the roosevelt institute, the partner to the roosevelt library in hyde park, new york. she is the author of the
8:36 am
critically celebrated "woman of valor, margaret sanger and the birth-control movement in america," which was published in 1992 and re-released in 2007 as a paperback. she was co-editor with wendy chavkin of "where human rights begin, health, sexuality, and women in the new millennium." she is currently at work on a new book about the history of women's rights as fundamental human rights. ellen and i -- i take great pleasure in saying this -- were classmates together at a woman's college -- no longer a woman's college, vassar college. so i am thrilled to have ellen on this podium. linda gordon is a famed
8:37 am
professor of history and the university professor of humanities at nyu. her first book, "woman's body woman's right," a history of birth control in america, was published in 1976 and later revised and re-published as "the moral property of women," in 2007. it remains the definitive history of birth-control politics in the united states. her more recent books are "the great arizona orphan abduction" and "dorothea lange: a life beyond limits," both of which have won bancroft prizes. katha pollitt is the author of the newly published "pro: reclaiming abortion rights" as well as "virginity or death!" and "learning to drive." she is a poet, essayist, and
8:38 am
columnist for "the nation." she has won many prizes and awards. including the national book critics circle award and two national magazine awards. loretta ross is a nationally renowned expert on women's issues, hate groups, racism and intolerance, human rights, and violence against women. she has served as the national coordinator of the sistersong women of color reproductive justice collective, and director of the women of color programs for the national organization for women. she has written extensively on the history of african-american women and reproductive justice activism, including as co-author of "undivided rights, women of color organize for reproductive
8:39 am
justice." now, i am going to introduce, in one heartbeat, alex sanger, who is margaret sanger's grandson. but before i do that, i always want to say that i want everybody here to be members of the museum, so we can sign you up tonight and if we sign you up tonight we would love to give you, as a free book, "pro: reclaiming abortion rights," and i bet katha would sign the book. autograph the book. [laughter] that would be a great, great thing. anyway, if you don't want to join but you want the book, it is available for sale in the museum shop. now, next week, we have a women's program going on here, too. it is a panel discussion called "today's modern woman."
8:40 am
it is about the depiction of working women in current media and public conversation. it is with npr correspondent ashleigh milne-tyte and "cosmopolitan" magazine editor leslie yazel, among the other speakers. it is next week, in conjunction with an exhibition down the corridor, which is "mac conner: a new york life." he was an illustrator in the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's. he was creating the idealized view of the modern american women, so that we could all know how to dress ourselves and behave and wear our gloves and hats. now, alexander sanger will introduce the topic of tonight's program and get us going. in addition to being margaret sanger's grandson, alex is currently chair of the
8:41 am
international planned parenthood council. he has also served as a goodwill ambassador for the u.n. population fund, as well as the president of planned parenthood of new york city and its international arm, the margaret sanger center international. he is the author of "beyond choice, reproductive freedom in the 21st century." so please welcome alex and all of our panelists. thank you. [applause] >> good evening and welcome. the issues of social justice racial justice, humanitarian justice, i know, are on our minds this evening. the movements to correct the world's many inequities and
8:42 am
injustices take many forms. because there are so many root causes to be addressed. the symptoms of the inequity that my grandmother saw 100 years ago on the lower east side when she was nursing were an epidemic of maternal death unsafe abortions, infant deaths, and rampant disease. maternal and infant mortality statistics of the united states 100 years ago are the equivalent of the least developed countries in the world today. to her, and to us at planned parenthood, these deaths are an affront to civilization and decency, and they are preventable. her solution, birth control, which allowed women to control the number of births contributed to a massive improvement in public health that we have seen in the last
8:43 am
100 years. but still, worldwide, over 290,000 women die every year from pregnancy-related causes. that is 800 women a day. including 43,000 women dying annually from unsafe abortions. 5.6 million babies die at birth or are stillborn. 1.5 million men and women die annually from aids. 35% of women worldwide have been the victims of intimate partner violence. this carnage is an affront to decency and civilization. no surprise, there are those today, as there were 100 years ago, who oppose our efforts to prevent this carnage and save these lives. 100 years ago, anthony comstock, whose laws criminalized
8:44 am
contraception, said, sexual -- and was my grandmother's tormentor said, sexual pleasure within marriage is bestial and base. the judge who sentenced my grandmother to jail for opening a birth control clinic, said, a woman has no right to copulate without fear of pregnancy. some men are continuing this dubious tradition. in the last week, listen to this litany. the male president of turkey said women would never be equal to men and they should stay at home and have three, preferably five, children. the male minister of education in russia declared, sex education would never be taught in russia. isis banned birth control. the gambia enacted a trip coney and -- draconian anti-gay law.
8:45 am
another leader said birth control was equal to -- or worse to communism and -- combined. and then there is the text of legislature -- texas legislature. is reproductive freedom a male versus female thing? do women win and men lose? no, it is not. our women universally in favor of reproductive rights and men universally opposed? in this country, not even close. in the united states, women favor reproductive freedom only slightly more than men. so, do not leave men out of the solution. not all men are hopeless. 100 years ago, my grandmother was in exile in europe for
8:46 am
publishing "the woman rebel," there was a trial going downtown of an unsuspecting individual who was entrapped into handing to an undercover police officer a copy of one of my grandmother's pamphlets. "family limitation," 16 pages of birth control advice. the accused, on the witness stand, declared that comstock was a "religious and pornographic fanatic." and, "a victim of incurable sex-phobia." i wish i thought of that. he further declared, "i deny the right of the state to exercise dominion over the souls and bodies of our women by compelling them to go into unwilling motherhood. " the defendant was found guilty. the presiding judge said, in sentencing, your crime is not only a violation of the laws of man, it is a violation of the
8:47 am
laws of god. such persons who circulate pamphlets like these is a menace to society. there are now many who believe it is a crime to have children. if some of the women advocating suffered would advocate having children, they would do a service. he sentenced the defendant to 30 days in jail for handing out this pamphlet. the defendant was my grandfather, william sanger. the first person to go to jail for advocating birth control in my grandmother's crusade was not my grandmother, it was my grandfather. thank you. [applause] >> i am katha pollitt, i want to
8:48 am
welcome you to this panel. thank you, susan, alex for these wonderful remarks. it is all so fascinating, one hundred years later, margaret sanger still stirs my blood. anyway the way we will work this is, every panelist speak for five minutes and fiv minutes only. on some area of this that interests them particularly. we will have a general discussion and questions afterward. after a half an hour, it will be your turn to ask questions. we will go in alphabetical order. ellen chesler, kick us off. >> it is a pleasure to be here especially because susan runs this wonderful institution in new york, she is a half-century friend of mine.
8:49 am
also because i have been talking about margaret sanger for a lmost half a century and i never tire of the subject. i thought i would say five things that defined margaret sanger and to find the movement, and frame the debates which are ongoing today, i will essentially put exclamation pionts on -- points on some things alex said. margaret sanger was a nurse. she had an unquestioning and from our perspective, and almost naive concept of alleviating suffering, which fueled her interest in birth control. as a tool not only for women, it -- but all so of social
8:50 am
betterment. margaret sanger was a secularist. she was the daughter of a protestant mother and a secular catholic father. both irish. one thought heard to deport, the other two to five -- the other to defy, one died at the age of 50 after multiple pregnancies, and a bout of tuberculosis. the other lived to a ripe old age, squandering his artistic and intellectual talent on too much talk and drink. it was a powerful, potent combination to inspire rebellion. sanger lifted the religious shroud that had encased sexuality and reproduction in mystery, and replaced houses of worship with clinics, houses of worship run by male clerics,
8:51 am
with clinics run by women and doctors and social scientists. she made us the arbiters of our own behaviors and values, and from this conflict, a century of turbulence has ensued. and perhaps, another century will ensue as not only the judeo-christian culture reforms itself in this regard, but many millions of muslims go through the same sorts of transitions. she was progressive. this is important, it defines or -- her politics. she emerged on the american scene in the halcyon days at the turn-of-the-century, a time when america seemed wide open with possibility before the russian revolution and the overtaking of -- the complications that overtook the labor movement. her faith and revolution gave way to a more concrete agenda
8:52 am
for reform and a confidence that a well-run state could tame capitalism and provide a floor of well-being for the most vulnerable among us. this is critical to understanding sanger and the movement. she embraced the new deal. she was a friend of eleanor and franklin roosevelt. she believed in government that would guarantee reproductive autonomy for improvements in social welfare and public health. she called for a robust social safety net. increased public expenditure on family planning as a matter of civil justice. why would a country that was taking care of its people not also give them the voluntary tools to limit a number of births? one has to understand that the new deal, the foundation of the new deal, were northern irish catholics and southern fundamental protestants that became a political base that is
8:53 am
now holding captive the republican party. held captive the democratic party. she never forget that. she became angry and gave up on american politics after the new deal. it is a fundamental point that she always voted socialist. she was so angry about franklin roosevelt. she was fourth -- a feminist her fundamental heresy, was claiming a woman's right to experience their sexuality free of consequence, just as men have always done. the hardest challenge in writing about her today, and over the last 22 years, talking about her as well as writing about her, is to explain how absolutely destabilizing she was in her own time. even given the enormous backlash
8:54 am
against women's rights today and in the years since my book was published, it is hard to inhabit an era in our own past and history when sex was seen more as an obligation rather than pleasure for woman and motherhood was a primary goal. women were denied identities of their own as citizens, and they compromise rights, no protection from violence. this unyielding principle of male coveture was key to understanding why her arguments were so profound. examining all this in the context of the recent expansions of international human rights discourse, which i have been involved in as an activist for many years since i wrote this book with george soros, there is an international human rights movement now which is
8:55 am
incorporating socioeconomic and cultural rights as what we define as fundamental human rights. being involved in that underscores the originality of feminist thinkers who demanded civil protection of the body not just the states' promise to respect our privacy, but also demanded of the states a positive obligation to provide services on a voluntary basis for contraception. this is something that is now enshrined in international human rights law. in part of a way to eliminate all discrimination against women. it is also now enshrined in the affordable care act. if you want to know why the controversy over these issues has intensified, it is because of that. because america now obligates its government to make certain that women not only have any contraception, but the best contraception, even if it is the most expensive -- an iud
8:56 am
or long-lasting contraception. that is the ultimate realization of her vision. finally, and i went to see this -- say this quickly, margaret sanger was a eugenicist, a follower of what in its state -- of what was in its day a popular movement. it addressed the manner in which biology and heredity as well as environment affects human intelligence and opportunity. she took away from darwin and she was in good company with supreme court justices like brandeis, and others, -- the top ones. >> oliver wendell holmes. >> yes. he wrote the decision. but also w.e.b. dubois, follower -- founder of the naacp.
8:57 am
roger baldwin of the aclu. many progressives embraced these ideals. they took an optimistic lesson that our descending from the animal kingdom makes us capable of improvement if we apply the right tools. she believed, alas, that merit should replace birthright as an social status as the standard for mobility and a democratic society. iq tests are the legacy, the positive legacy, of eugenics. but tragically, she supported sterilization on the grounds of mental incompetence. she endorsed that. we have to come to terms with that fact. i am out of time, but i think we should spend some time on this panel recognizing that the historically specific circumstances and the complexity of all these are hard to untangle. as a result of them, though, margaret has become in recent
8:58 am
years, a collateral victim of the abortion wars and political extremism. in america. her reputation savaged by zealots who deliberately distort what has been a heated but a n academic discourse on the subject. accusations about family planning globally and planned parenthood. we have much to learn from her like the ancient deities of our tradition. she can perhaps inspire us it -- with awe but also some fear. i offer it to linda to say the rest. >> i will put these papers down and stand appear. a little tight here.
8:59 am
but i can do it. i want to say a word about anniversaries, then talk about more recent history. anniversaries are designed for the present. they have different meanings. i was thinking about the fact that if we were commemorating margaret sanger in the 1930's, or again in the 1950's, very different things would have been said. for example, as ellen told you she came to birth control as a feminist and as a socialist. in the 1930's and 1950's, people did not want to talk about those things. but they are important, because i think she made a theoretical contribution in bringing together both sex, gender, and class radicalism. she never left off that commitment. by sparking the movement to open birth-control clinics -- and that was a tough road with many
9:00 am
obstacles -- she was focused very much on accessibility. that meant accessibility to people across the social spectrum, and to removing contraception from being the private property of an elite who could afford to go to private doctors who could discreetly fit them with diaphragms. therefore, a kind of interesting sick with boldness in the way we remember singer. in the 1970's, we were really honoring those class consciousness commitments that she had. i also want to say __ one personal thing __ following on
9:01 am
what ellen said on sanger's alliance with eugenics, and the policies of the united states __ long before hitler took over not __ nazi germany, sterilized mostly american indians. i was impacted by that in several ways, first in the 1980's, i was harshly criticized by planned parenthood, they did not want bad news about margaret sanger. more recently, i have regularly been cited on the internet, you can find it anywhere you look, by the right wing who makes
9:02 am
these claims that birth control is a racist plot. they say to me, it is very disempowering feeling knowing that i have not been able to use that complete misuse of it. among the most egregious examples of it, which you have probably seen, are these black billboards that say, most dangerous place for an african_american baby is in the womb. i have seen them in the southwest, the same thing but for latinos. out of those kinds of concerns, however, arose in the 1970's, sparked by both the civil rights movement, and the women's liberation movement, a new take on reproductive rights, which i think we sometimes lose. a coalition of feminist that
9:03 am
included the national welfare rights organization, the national black feminist organization, the puerto rican socialist party, the young lords, they formed a group known as the committee for abortion rights and against sterilization abuse. it was a committee that had significant success in stopping coercive sterilization of people that was being done without adequate consent. for example, the used to ask women who were literally in the delivery room, in the pains of delivery to sign so_called consent forms for sterilization. they also had a theoretical contribution. and i think it is an important one.
9:04 am
that is, reproductive choice, is the right to bear, as well as not to bear, children. includes the right to have children safely, and keep them in good health. that as much ought to be the right, as is the right to have children. i was recently on a panel, and one of the participants extended this to a panel, and
9:05 am
one of the participants extended this to say that the right of the mother is to have __ anything is important to think critically about the fact that we sometimes want to create heroes have to be entirely perfect.
9:06 am
then, if we discovered a flaw in them, there is a tendency to reject them. this is a very ahistorical, and not helpful way, to think about and honored someone like margaret sanger. i think ultimately, her most important contribution was in inspiring summary of the people to care about reproductive rights. [applause] >> loretta. >> i think i should just start by saying margaret sanger was my kind of woman. she was of gravel __ a rebel with contradictions. i think that is the best that any of us can be. i do not think that she was fearless.
9:07 am
i think the kinds of things that she chose to do major quite afraid, and quite frequently, but she told to do them anyway. that is a wonderful model for taking on an overwhelming system. to pursue a cause that you know you believe in, and that the women who depend on you believe in, but very few other people believe in. and she went to some really onerous places in pursuit of that cause. yes, as an african_american, i wish he had not gone and met with the ku klux klan. i am actually rather forgiving of that. that is one act that does not bar her legacy that we have inherited from her. we have to see the totality of
9:08 am
what they do, as opposed to just isolating any one thing, as if we had jesus leading the movement __ and i'm not so sure he was perfect either. >> she met with them to try and change their minds. >> what ever the reason, she was not paying attention to __ what is that called __ >> optics. >> optics, that is the word. that's all right. like i said, she is my kind of woman. i have certainly been oblivious to optics many times myself. and i actually enjoy up the cameras. the other thing that i meyer about her is that she, like
9:09 am
myself, came into this movement from different experiences. i do not think that i would be in abortions rights activists. i actually made the mistake of majoring in chemistry and physics. it was not until i was sterilized one is 23 that i realized my feet were on a path to trying to prevent that happening to other women. that is when i discovered the struggle for reproductive rights and reproductive freedom. it was not something that i was aware of coming from a very conservative and religious family. it was not something that was largely discussed. it was her lived experiences that radicalized her, as mine certainly radicalized me. something i've dealt with as a legacy of hers is the way that opponents to women's freedom __
9:10 am
i do not think they're just opposed to birth control and abortion __ i think they are opposed to women's sexuality as we've heard discussed on this panel so far. the opponents to freedom and sexuality have in fact deeply racialized the abortion debate, like the billboards that linda talk to. even to outrageously compare abortion to slavery. and holocaust __ as if black women are responsible for the enslavement of our children __ i do not even know how to parse out the rationale, of where they tend to believe that black babies are being aborted because of their race. i've yet to find a black woman who is surprised that her child will be black.
9:11 am
[laughter] i do not know how to make sense of what they're talking about. i want to use the last couple of minutes of my five minutes to talk about what we can learn from margaret sanger today. i think she is just as relevant today as she was during her time. i have been knee_deep in the margaret sanger papers at smith college. one of the things i am and they bring to write as an activist __ tried to be a historian, i'm not a historian __ is a black feminist analysis of margaret sanger. to counter the distortions of her record that i'm having to deal with in my activist life. one of the things that i think we can pass on again is to reconceptualize what feels this looks like.
9:12 am
what looks like fearlessness, is probably not bravery in the face of fear. that is what we all have to call upon. that is what the protesters and ferguson are calling upon right now. they know they are risking their lives. they're dealing with the trigger_happy police force, who does not respect the human rights. doesn't even respect their american right to protest injustice. we have to package that fearlessness __ that parents fearlessness. she was also extremely focused. if you do any reading of margaret sanger, she did not care what the subject was. we were talking about that brilliant chandelier up there. she was probably time at how women were not be able to enjoy
9:13 am
a must_have birth_control. [laughter] that was her. many times, i know myself, i have been accused of just being that person. i'm also willing to talk about reproductive justice __ the right to have children, to not have children, and to be able to pair our children safely. this has transformed our entire conversations. i'm glad planned parenthood got the memo. we've had to be focused that way on the right to have children, and the right to have our children thrive and be safe from police violence, and poverty, and gun violence, and all kinds of things that threaten our children once they are here. the last thing i will say __
9:14 am
what i hope to replicate of her and pass on __ she was in a credible risk taker. she didn't necessarily stand up for what was popular, but she certainly envision what was possible. whether or not it was popular or not, she would stand up for it. sometimes that led her __ as i said, to make mistakes that we wish you would not have made __ at the same time, it showed us what bravery under fire looked like, what is possible in terms of women's freedom. i think that her legacy is not celebrate enough. a maxi probably going to get in trouble __ my mouth always gets me in trouble, i share that with her __ i do not think planned parenthood does a good enough job of celebrating margaret sanger.
9:15 am
i think there to __ they are too apologetic about her. but hey, if we did not celebrate martin luther king because he made mistakes __ what a different world we would have. i think it is very important for us to lift her legacy up. listed up with clear glasses. not whitewashing it, or being embarrassed by it. listed up which you grace and to honor. she was a woman who made what we do, and our lifes, possible. i would like to see many more celebrations of margaret sanger's legacy. it has transformed our world in a way that will never be undone, no matter how angry our opponents get. [applause]
9:16 am
>> that was just fabulous. i feel we can all go home now. we've heard from three very brilliant women who actually answered a lot of the questions i've written down, by will ask my questions anyway. we are celebrating the advent of sanger's journal, with the slogan __ no gods, no masters. it is hard to imagine a feminist journal today that would have that slogan. they are all much more pro_religion today. so, in the women's doubles, sanger wrote that the women's body belonged to herself alone, she supported birth_control of course, and realistic sex education. she said marriage is between couples, not the church, not
9:17 am
the state. in saying that it is okay that teenagers have sex. it is never, this is good, this is part of growing up. our work __ world is very different than her world. and yet, so may these issues are alive today, it is amazing. i would like to hear what people think about that. why can't people get over birth control? 99% of women have used it. almost no catholic women do natural family planning. the number of people who want to ban abortions completely as a small,, actually. they have undue political weight.
9:18 am
it is really not 20% of the population. it might even be more like 8%. why is it that we can't get over ourselves on reproductive rights, and modernizing gender relations? >> should i go first because i went first last time? just add to the question before i answer it __ one of the mysteries i think about a lot is how rapidly there has been significant victories for gay marriage. i think a marriage is on a roll and it will be legal everywhere pretty soon. to compare that to what
9:19 am
to compare that to what has happened about abortion __
9:20 am
what margaret sanger would say is what my students would call, the slut talk. they suggest a tremendous wealth of hostility about this world in which women are changing things. i would just say one more thing and then see if anyone else has anything to say __ we all have to understand that the gender system is one of the oldest parts of human society, and the earliest being that children learn. most children __ we understand from child development experts
9:21 am
__ they have a sense of the gender before they can speak. there's nothing terribly deep about this. when is threatened, it will set off these things. i do not think that is an adequate answer to that question. i do not know the answer. >> let's let a link of __ allen give a crack. >> in the 100 years since margaret sanger, there has been a profound revolution and families in our country and around the world. what i said earlier __ when margaret sanger publish the women's rebels, women did not vote in this country. they would work because they had to, and they were women of color, and contribute to the families. that was not the conventional idea of a woman's role. it was motherhood. today, 50% of all americans are
9:22 am
employed. over 50% of all women vote in large numbers. more children live in households more than ever with single mothers. these are huge changes today in america. we still earn less than men. we live in a completely different world. even in my lifetime, as an adult __ i'm getting old, but not that old, as i like to sell my students __ there has been profound change. when there is change of this nature, there are always people who are honed by this change, that includes sexual freedom.
9:23 am
there are people who do not feel that they have lost something. they are now 20% of the people who shifted from the democratic party __ the republican party because of the strange structure of our political environment. an unequal and unnecessary control. the controls lots of small states. we have an unrepresentative government. if we had a government that represents the people in this country, we would not have this issue. in new york and california had
9:24 am
a vote, in florida, and as texas changes to a more progressive society, if more people voted, if they were denied their rights, we would not have these issues. this combination of the profound changes in the social structure, and the failure of our government to keep pace with the kind of society we are. >> loretta, would you like to add something to that. >> i'm trying to keep up to all the responses i want to make. i do not believe that culture shifts and culture resistance are accidents. i think they are driven by ideology put into practice in the form of social movements that can move the left or to the right. i think that resistance to women's freedom and empowerment is driven by reality. the etiology has been remarkably consistent over colonization of the united
9:25 am
states, and is called white supremacy. we bore that in our peril. evidence of that __ i would invite you to google that phrase, democratic winter. it is a new documentary by supposing conservatives claiming that we need a new cradle competition to use the word of margaret sanger to replenish the white race. i am thoroughly convinced that the attacks on sex education and birth control are fueled by the ideology that once more white children. i am thoroughly convinced that they do not want more black and
9:26 am
brown children, their killing the ones we're have. if we look at racial politics around what is happening to women __ blood politics is driving all this. i think we're being incredibly naïve. i think we're actually promoting a feminism that serves the white supremacy, rather than one account is in these constructs it, look up democratic winter. >> i have seen that documentary, it is great. >> they are in a race war for babies. >> can i just ask your question, and then i know ellen wants to respond. it will make poor women to have abortions, but does nothing to women who can afford it. then he says, but the poor women are the only ones i can get to.
9:27 am
when you say that all this is making white women have more children, how is that going to happen to say that pro_needleless want to have children and their educated white women __ that today think are the real americans. >> the message that these educated white women are being given is really confusing. first of all, they are told that they are in a race against their own biological clock. >> yes, the biological clock. >> you have the biological clock ticking. we are told that no longer should you even aim for a college education because capitalism will not even reward you for getting one.
9:28 am
if someone is quote obtaining the american dream, and all the sudden __ things are not even within reach. >> you know, i do not deny what you are saying, but i think i have more class than race analysis. there is a history to this. in the late 1960's, a few republican party strategist looked at the array of voters, and they saw a pattern that had been created by franklin roosevelt in which, not only black people, but also most white working_class people voted for democrats. they thought, we have to change that, how do we get those votes. they deliberately establish a strategy called the new right __ a capital and __
9:29 am
and they said, we have to get people focus away from economic policy. because if they focus on economic policy, they would not vote for republicans. they threw enormous funding into the sex and gender issues, along with a position to the desegregation of the schools. >> stuff like that. >> what i'm saying they simply is that we should not neglect the fact that there are these strategist __ exemplars today would be the koch brothers. my view is that i personally don't think they give a damn about abortion. but they can use it for a more
9:30 am
corporate agenda __ and i really resonate with what ellen said __ if this country were run democratically, we would buy not have anywhere near this opposition to reproductive rights because it is not what most people think. >> everyone should go home and read robert dolls __ how democratic is the u.s. constitution. that shows how the constitution was designed to lead towards the effects that we have today. he uses the example that 44% of senators come from tiny, rural, mostly white states. what if black people __ 12% of the population __ had 44 cm. >> or women?
9:31 am
>> anyway, i know you wanted to speak. >> i was just going to say exactly what linda said __ referring specifically to the irony of george hw bush who was on the ticket with ronald reagan. both of them have been pro_reach productive rights. and the birthright, particularly in the bush family. his father, prescott bush, back in connecticut __ his grandmother had been on the board of planned parenthood. in order to the road the new deal majority, there was a deliberate movement. i said earlier in my introductory remarks, northern catholics and fundamentalist __ and from the south and west, the core of the democrats
9:32 am
support, there was quite a deliberate decision made. ronald reagan and george hw bush went along with it in the 80's. of course, when bill clinton was elected as the first pro_choice present, millions of dollars in the 1990's, hundreds of millions of dollars were put into trying to put forward family values, as they were called, and erode support for abortion and contraception. the issue affected not only values, but also jobs. this is a important to understand because planned parenthood is federal government contractors. 90% of the budget comes from the fact that it provides services to poor women, and
9:33 am
often many middle_class women, as it turns out. for a variety of healthcare needs, ford greater than abortion and contraception. every person employed in planned parenthood is employed by federal money. in 1996, clinton, tried to respond on the question of welfare reform, did a double __ devils deal __ he created abstinence only education. some of this money also had an impact on international u. s. international development. in those years, after my book was published, i had the great
9:34 am
an unusual opportunity as a writer, an academic, to go to work to try to counter some of that money __ the progress of money __ money provided by a philanthropist like george soros, the ford foundation, who were trying to counter this incredible investment on the right to destabilize this tradition of progress, with respect to reproduction and reproductive rights. and they invested in other ways __ advocacy, new technologies, early abortions. all kinds of investments. also, to build movements. most importantly, i think we are able to planned parenthood a huge amount of money __ the
9:35 am
kind of money that did not come from the federal government to provide services. the only in that the more. ma planned parenthood even more controversial. that turned out to be not a great strategy as we found out in the thousand __ 2012 election. ironically, with all this armor against planned parenthood, if you take a poll today in america, planned parenthood enjoys the favorability of 60% overall __ a lot better than what congress likes to say. if you diss aggregate those figures, and take out older white men, 80% of women and minorities and men and women under the age of 45 support planned parenthood.
9:36 am
>> you keep saying is just about power. yes, it is about power, but you have to talk about why is that power resurrected and used in this particular way over and over again. you cannot to say the opposition to sanger was because in the 60's they decide to recapture the white house. i'm sorry, it is cyclical. it keeps happening over and over again. we have to look at those consistencies over time. i not look at timeline since the 60's as if that is when the move that went wrong. >> i think maybe we should open it up to questions. we are supposed to be wrapping up in 15 minutes. i had all these questions here,
9:37 am
but i will resign my interest in them and hear your questions instead. >> getting back to birth control __ [indiscernible] >> this is about birth control __ what are the numbers of men who take it upon themselves in a relationship to run the birth control to control fertility? and not put the responsibility on the woman. put the responsibly on himself. >> you know, what goes around comes around. sanger wanted women to have the responsibility.
9:38 am
she felt that you cannot trust men with fertility. also, reproduction is our joy, our capability. what she did mostly was try to find __ really, we have not given her credit fully for the birth control pill __ she found scientist to invent and companies to produce. not just the diaphragm, but she made this an obligation of women. i think fewer and fewer men. because of hiv and infection transmitted disease __ men now use condoms again. again, condoms are not a foolproof birth_control method. i think many women are using
9:39 am
double protection. along with many responsibilities that women have taken in the 20 century should, including economic ones. >> i've ever went eighth was the biggest thing. would you like to say something? >> if i can answer the specific question. sterilization is the number one method of contraception used around the world. about 33% of couples, the women is sterilized, and about 7% of men. the figure for condom use is about 15% of couples using condoms. >> that's only after they've had the number of children they want to have __ later in life. >> i remember when aids was beginning to get a lot of attention. in women's magazines, you would
9:40 am
read articles that would say women would have to carry condoms with them. couldn't men do anything? is the asking, if useless to provide the condom, do you have to pay on too? it's true, sanger did not trust men to take a pill. that is one reason why she went to the pill for women. it's interesting, a pill for men is always like 15 years away. it's always the same amount of distance away. >> what woman would trust a man that says, i'm on the pill. there is a fundamental problem with that. >> but still, we are in relationships with men who we trust. we trust them to do all kinds of things, and we love them. i'm not talking about someone with a one night stand. after you are husbands in our longtime lovers.
9:41 am
it seems odd to say, i do not trust you to take this pill, i trust you with everything else like our finances and children. i don't know. i think maybe people will come around a little bit on the pill for men one day. >> 1914. aspirations. how would you compare the reality of today with the degree of success, or what you think margaret sanger, how happy would she be? >> what a great question. who wants to tackle that? what would margaret sanger think of today? >> i think she would have __ there would be a lot that would please her. i think she would be horrified by the virulence of the tax.
9:42 am
i think __ think __ thinking about what loretta has been saying __ she would absolutely oppose the levels of racism that we see in the society. her alliances with eugenics, i do not think came out of the racism. >> she was not a racist. >> i really want to put an exclamation point on that. >> that's fine, i'm done. i'm not sure it's necessary. >> it is necessary. i do not really make this point in my five minutes. i think it clearly needs to be made. eugenics was a broad tent. they had of right wing and a left_wing. the left_wing looked upon eugenics as a way to introduce science into the conversation,
9:43 am
and not religion, in terms of behaviors and practices, and morality. also, to suggest that marriage should be the foundation of opportunity in a democratic society. things should not be left to chance. she was a very advanced thinker for her day __ on her board was doubly ebd __ web dubois. i could tell you, some language of his that sounds much worse than anything margaret sanger every said.
9:44 am
they were middle_class morality advocates, at least in that stage of their life. she stopped talking about some of the radical things that she said would change a young woman. she changed the language of birth control to the language of family planning. >> let's take another question. >> loretta brought up cyclical and ideology. i remember years ago __ there was a whole lot of men that were afraid of the chinese and irish. would it be beneficial to the cost to recycle that ideology? >> i think it is much to our shame and regret that we seem
9:45 am
to suffer from so much historical amnesia about how politics and power work in our country. particularly when they are intertwined with the delicate subject of race. we are so uncomfortable having that conversation, which i think is about as uncomfortable as parents should know better having a conversation about their children'sfirst sexual adventures. we have to get way be on an naïveté. when it comes to __ i actually wanted to answer the question about margaret sanger. i think she would be pleased and appalled. a combination.
9:46 am
i think she, like many of us who have been in the struggle for decades, are ready to move onto something else. we're tired of fighting this war over and over again. we are tired of fighting the women struggle over and again. we are up against people who are trying to repeal the entire 20th century. just act like it never happened and let's go back to the 19th century, and tried all over again. we are really tired. i think she would be disgusted. it is very hard to talk about the functioning of our constitutional system __ who gets elected to congress, without talking about how southern states were able to count slaves as 3/5 of a person, and make sure that a disproportionate number of southerners became presidents.
9:47 am
i love being a feminist. i am deeply ashamed that the feminist movement cannot grapple with race better. i think margaret sanger would support, if she would still having this conversation, would understand intersection analogy much better. i'm not talking about starting from enslavement, let's talk about colonization and genocide of native americans __ what that date and what trauma that has put into our psyche, that we cannot even talk about it. we have to do much better. let's call it the everything but raise conversation __ i'm tired of it. >> very briefly, there's one more question.
9:48 am
>> the world, i think has moved farther ahead in this issues. that would please margaret sanger. what is the most impressive things writing about her is how much time she spent abroad __ and how influential she was in india and japan. and how interested she was in the world. she saw family_planning as a fulcrum issue in terms of women's rights, but also fighting poverty. that is a critical nexus they do not know you have put enough emphasis on. she did think fundamentally that being able to control and have only the number of children that you want, and to love and educate them, is
9:49 am
protecting women, their families, and the world. and she understood to some extent the stewardship of our environment. there is an international human rights community now __ and ethics that sounds very sangerish, and i think that would make her very happy. she would just say, i told you so about america. she was particularly disappointed in roosevelt __ because they were so captive to the catholic church. >> i know you have a question that there. our last question. >> i actually have a couple more comments. i'm realizing more and more __ even as a fairly educated person __ the disparity between
9:50 am
the knowledge that we have in our ability to create these different forms of birth control versus the broader understanding of women's health. running from __ teenagers who think you can get pregnant the first time, to apple coming out with an app that does not even address women's menstrual cycles. it is something i'm noticing more and more as they try to self educate. another thing, as someone who for the past 10 years has taken various forms of birth control for granted, and is considering using less pure forms, is getting to the point of seeing this disorienting idea that __ on the one hand this idea of mothers to __ women to be mothers __ and have children
9:51 am
bus unless you are able to see them economically through college. these are just things that i'm realizing at this point in my life, and have become very relevant. >> children are not seen as a social good, but as individual. as long as we keep individualize the concept of a human rights going, we will not have things like child care and healthcare, the livable environments, quality schools __ things that we absolutely need in order to perpetuate ourselves. i do not think that any woman could make a decision about her reproduction outside of the context of what is going on with global capitalism, and the failure of our society to appreciate our obligation to care for each other.
9:52 am
>> an interesting thing to think about about children __ the united states ranked 51st as far as infant mortality. what it is about is inequality. those of us who will not be a part of that, will not experience that danger. i think one of the encouraging things is that __ god knows and quality is growing __ i think there has been movement lately, particularly here in new york __ i think of the occupy movement, the election of the mayor __ people have just had it with society designed around
9:53 am
the rich, around white people. i think you are right, it is a whole context. one of the perhaps in evitable, and sad things, with women's movements is that we now have lots of separate single issue movements __ a movement against rape, a movement pro_rights, i could go on. i think it is important in each of those movements to move towards a holistic analysis. >> on that note, we have our marching orders __ develop a holistic mmovement that will honor the legacy of margaret sanger. [applause] thank you all for being here.

85 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on