Academic journal article et Cetera

"The Sex Side of Life": Mary Ware Dennett's Pioneering Battle for Birth Control and Sex Education

Academic journal article et Cetera

"The Sex Side of Life": Mary Ware Dennett's Pioneering Battle for Birth Control and Sex Education

Article excerpt

Constance M. Chen. "The Sex Side of Life": Mary Ware Dennett's Pioneering Battle for Birth Control and Sex Education. New York: The New Press, 1996.

I for one

Think the country would be better run,

If Mary Ware Dennett

Explained things to the Senate.

So wrote Ogden Nash of this suffragette, leading figure of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, prominent peace activist, crusader for the right to obtain and distribute information about contraception, and author of the sex-education pamphlet "The Sex Side of Life: An Explanation for Young People." This 21-page pamphlet, which was written in 1915 for Dennett's adolescent sons (and is included in its entirety in this book), would come to be used by organizations such as the YMCA, parent-teacher groups, and even medical society publications.

Dennett believed that sex was a marvelous activity that required guidance to be ennobling to the human being. Her pamphlet contained diagrams that were physiologically accurate and a text that was factual. However, in 1929 she was charged with obscenity in a high-profile case that became a landmark in censorship law. Despite attempts by "vice hunters" to force the pamphlet out of circulation, it is still in use today.

During her extraordinary career, Dennett fought for a bill to make birth control available to everyone. …

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