Western Women Demand Information




Margaret Sanger Microfilm Edition, Smith College Collections S70:823
"Western Women Demand Information," Birth Control Review, June 1919, p. 5





Western Women Demand Information

By Margaret Sanger

After all, it's an ill wind that blows nobody good. California authorities are so busy keeping Tom Mooney in jail, fighting labor unions, rounding up I. W. W., arresting and deporting Hindus and chasing Bolsheviks, that they don't have time to stand guard over advocates of Birth Control. That was the reason, perhaps, why two lectures in which information concerning contraceptives was given, were not interfered with by these same authorities.

California women are anxious for practical knowledge of Birth Control. They do not care so much for the theory--what they want to know is how to avoid having children. I have visited a number of cities and towns in the state and have found the same feeling prevailing everywhere. There is a weariness of indirect methods. There is a lack of interest in legislative measures. Only women who are the heads of clubs are still hopeful of having the laws changed. The rest simply refuse to think about laws any more. They want the information.

The attitude of a group of workers in San Francisco is an accurate indication of the attitude of women generally in the state. I was invited to lecture before this body and did so on the night of April 26th. It had become plain to me that these women had lost faith in legislation, just as they had lost faith in courts. They demanded something more than they demanded four years ago or two years ago. Then they had been satisfied to know the relation of Birth Control to life's social problems. Now they want the relief that Birth Control can bring and they don't want anything less.

It was suggested that I might be arrested for giving information regarding contraceptives from the public platform.

"Go ahead," said the women, "we're with you--not behind you ."

That spirit was reflected everywhere.

In the period allotted for answering question, ten or fifteen women were upon their feet at once--not to discuss generalities, but to ask advice upon their own practical problems. Four years, and two years ago, when I lectured in California, hardly a woman would rise in public to ask for personal advice about Birth Control.

The demand for actualities rather than theories exists not only in regard to Birth Control but in regard to other matters as well. For example, the decided shift to direct action indicates how thoroughly they have put aside their faith in the machinery of law making and law enforcement.

California women know what they want from the Birth Control movement and they are not afraid to demand it. They will stand by any person, group or organization in action. And they are interested only in action.