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The Pivot of Civilization

To Alice Drysdale Vickery
Whose prophetic vision of liberated womanhood has been an inspiration
“I dream of a world in which the spirits of women are flames
stronger than fire, a world in which modesty has become courage
and yet remains modesty, a world in which women are as unlike
men as ever they were in the world I sought to destroy, a world
in which women shine with a loveliness of self-revelation as
enchanting as ever the old legends told, and yet a world which
would immeasurably transcend the old world in the self-s acrificing
passion of human service. I have dreamed of that world ever since
I began to dream at all.”
Havelock Ellis
Introduction By H. G. Wells
I A New Truth Emerges
II Conscripted Motherhood
III “Children Troop Down from Heaven”
IV The Fertility of the Feeble-Minded
V The Cruelty of Charity
VI Neglected Factors of the World Problem
VII Is Revolution the Remedy?
VIII Dangers of Cradle Competition
IX A Moral Necessity
X Science the Ally
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XI E ducation and Expression
XII Woman and the Fut ure
Appendix: Principles and Aims of the American Birth Control League
Birth control, Mrs. Sanger claims, and claims rightly, to be a
question of fundamental import ance at the present time. I do not know
how far one is justified in calling it the pivot or the corner-stone
of a progressive civilization. These terms involve a criticism of
metaphors that may take us far away from the question in hand. Birth
Cont rol is no new thing in human experience, and it has been practised
in societies of the most various types and fortunes. But there can be
little doubt that at the present time it is a test issue between two
widely dierent interpretations of the word civilization, and of what
is good in life and conduct. The way in which men and women range
themselves in this controversy is more simply and directly indicative
of their general intellectual quality than any other single
indication. I do not wish to imply by this that the people who oppose
are more or less intellectual than the people who advocate Birth
Cont rol, but only that they have fundamentally contrasted general
ideas,–that, mentally, they are DIFFE RENT. Very simple, very
complex, very dull and very brilliant persons may be found in either
camp, but all those in either camp have certain attitudes in common
which they share wit h one anot her, and do not share with those in the
other camp.