Added: Robbin Filip - Date: 26.06.2021 17:47 - Views: 16394 - Clicks: 7546
The campaigner is famous for making information about sex widely accessible — but she had many beliefs we would now find abhorrent. You already have seven children, and the thought of getting pregnant again horrifies and frightens you. As far as options go, you have almost nil.
Modern sex education in schools is currently in need of a serious upgrade, but at least it exists: a century ago, the very idea would have been unthinkable. In the s, there was almost no publicly available information about birth control, and men were legally allowed to rape their wives. As a result, women all over the country were virtual slaves to their reproductive systems, forced to bear child after child after child.
Not only that, but female sexuality was widely repressed, denied and shamed. Talking openly about sex was simply not something that respectable women did. Until, that is, that Edinburgh-born scientist Marie Stopes published her revolutionary book Married Love in March The book, which contained practical advice about how to maintain a satisfying sex life within a happy marriage, was considered seriously radical upon its release. Aimed at both men and women, it openly acknowledged the existence of female sexual desire, and depicted the ideal marriage as a meeting of equals.
The argument that marriage should be enjoyable for women — that they deserved to find joy, pleasure and satisfaction in a consensual romantic, sexual and domestic relationship — had never before been put forth in such a frank, public way. Married Love was banned in the US, and Stopes faced fierce opposition from churches, the medical establishment and the press in Britain.
Its first run sold out almost at once, and it was on its sixth printing within a fortnight. Stopes strongly opposed abortion, but she also believed women should be educated so they could prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Like its predecessor, it was wildly popular. Dear Marie Stopes , an opera based on some of those letters, is due to run at the Wellcome Collection in London as part of the Tete-a-Tete festival on 9, 11 and 12 August. Stopes was inspired to write Married Love after her own experience in an unhappy marriage. Before reinventing herself as a sex educator and birth control campaigner, she had worked as a botanist, and in became the first female academic at the University of Manchester.
In , she was introduced to her first husband Reginald Ruggles Gates while on a research trip in Canada. Gates was impotent, and as a result their relationship was never consummated. The marriage was annulled in Her second husband, the philanthropist Humphrey Verdon Roe, was also interested in birth control. In , Stopes reed from a lecturing post at UCL to focus all her attentions on launching a birth control clinic in London, and founded the Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress to support the initiative.
The Marie Stopes clinic in Northern Ireland was the first to offer private abortions to women in the country in She called for those deemed unfit for parenthood to be compulsorily sterilised, and — incredibly — disowned her only son when he married a woman with eye problems, arguing that any children they had could inherit the condition.
But in reality, they were central to her mission to educate women, particularly poorer women, about the importance of birth control. But while we might not agree with why she wanted to deter some women from having children, we can recognise how transformative it was for so many women — of all backgrounds — to suddenly have access to information about birth control. Over the next two decades, she would expand her network of family planning clinics, opening branches in Leeds, Aberdeen, Belfast, Cardiff and Swansea.
Run by midwives and visiting doctors, these clinics offered birth control advice and contraceptives to all married women seeking knowledge about reproductive health. The most popular form of contraception offered at the London clinic was a cervical cap deed by Stopes, which perfectly encapsulates the contradictory sides of her story. Few people are entirely admirable or entirely despicable, and some of the most influential feminists of the last two centuries held views that many women would find deeply problematic in That, at least, is worth celebrating.Women want sex Crockett
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How Marie Stopes revolutionised British women’s sex lives