Despite the taboos on women’s knowledge and discussion of sexuality, the right of women to decide on the number and timing of pregnancies was advocated in most feminist groups by 1900. As Carol Dyhouse points out, the topic was usually placed in the general context of “feminine autonomy within marriage and of mutual desire and respect as preconditions of the sexual union.”55 These discussions were marked by the same tension between maternalist and scientific approaches to sexuality as we have seen in the area of sex education. Maternalist feminists upheld values such as chastity and self­restraint, which though formulated in secular language were closely linked to Christian moral principles. Perceiving women as the custodians of such values, they unabashedly advocated female supremacy in the marital relation­ship. Birth-control activists, influenced by scientific fields such as sexology and eugenics, asserted both the ability and the right of both women and men to enjoy sexual relations, the joint responsibility of the couple for reproductive decisions, and the use of contraceptive technology to separate sex from reproduction.

Most British feminists of this era, aroused to anger by campaigns such as that of Elizabeth Elmy against marital rape, tended toward the maternalist position and called for the liberation of women from, not into, heterosexual­ity. Theorists such as Olive Schreiner, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Frances Swiney and Elmy herself, all very influential in Britain, asserted that existing forms of heterosexuality were not designed to serve the biological purpose of reproduction—in fact they were harmful to the health of mothers and children—but rather the political purpose of perpetuating male supremacy. Elmy speculated that even such biological functions as menstruation were environmental in origin, produced by women’s enslavement to her sexual function at times when it served no reproductive purpose.

On woman falls that heritage of woe,

And e’en the virgin feels its dastard blow.

For long ere fit to wield maternal cares,

Abnormal fruits of birth her guiltless body bears.56

The novelist and playwright Cicely Hamilton likewise saw heterosexuality as a form of slavery: “in sexual matters, the whole trend and tendency of woman’s relation to men has been to make refusal impossible and to cut off every avenue of escape from the gratification of his desire.”57 If given their choice, these theorists assumed, women would surely confine sexual inter­course to the minimum necessary for rational and planned reproduction.58

The modern birth-control movement can be said to have originated in Britain in 1877, when William Bradlaugh and Annie Besant were tried for selling a “dirty, filthy book” on the history and techniques of contracep­tion.59 The result of the famous trial was the founding of the Neo-Malthusian League, which justified birth control chiefly through an economic doctrine that attributed poverty to uncontrolled reproduction and large families. Some feminists and other social reformers objected to the class bias that was built into a doctrine that blamed poverty on the poor themselves rather than on social conditions. As the Fabian socialist Maude Pember Reeves remarked, if the poor had only the number of children that they could afford, the result could only be “the dying out of all poor people.”60 Others feared that the use of mechanical contraception might provide a “morally degrading” encouragement to male lust and self-indulgence.61

Therefore, only a few feminists supported the efforts of activists to popu­larize birth control among British working-class people in the prewar years.62 These women and men modified Neo-Malthusian ideology to emphasize the well-being of families rather than the dismal science of economics. Drawing on the results of recent research in sexology, they suggested that chastity was as unnatural for women as for men. “Let us admit our joy and gratitude for the beauty and pleasure of sex,” wrote Stella Browne in the Freewoman in 1912, and Jane Hume Clapperton declared that “the average woman has sexual needs of commanding importance to be met and satisfied.”63 Even more important was the happiness of children: “it is the birthright of the child,” wrote Charles Drysdale, “to have been longed for by his mother beforehand.”64 And that of the couple: “sexual and parental love,” said Clapperton, “is bursting into fuller life. It is radiating forth new influ­ences . . . and preparing for the reign of universal brotherhood.”65 However, the efforts of these and other activists, such as Drysdale’s partner Alice Vickery Drysdale, to organize women in support of birth control proved unsuccessful in the prewar years.

In the Netherlands the birth-control movement gained a degree of legitimacy in the 1890s that was unmatched in any other country. The historian Hugo Roling attributes this success to the weakness of populationist movements in a country where birthrates were still robust. In 1880 the newly qualified physician Aletta Jacobs traveled to London, where she met Bradlaugh, Besant, and the other Neo-Malthusians who (as she later recollected) “had caused an uproar in the sanctimonious England of the day.”66 In 1882, having learned that a German physician, Dr. Mensinga, had developed a barrier contraceptive for women, Jacobs opened a clinic to prescribe the device—the first birth-control clinic in the world. The clinic chiefly served poor women. Having joined the Dutch Neo-Malthusian League (Nieuw – Malthusiaansche Bond, founded in 1881), Jacobs promoted contraception as a means to the happiness and well-being of mothers, couples, and their care­fully nurtured children. “No child should come into the world,” she wrote, “whose coming is not deeply desired and joyously awaited.”67 She opposed the common practice of abortion, which she hoped that the spread of contraceptive technology would make obsolete.

Jacobs became a leader of the fledgling Dutch feminist movement, which for a while actively supported Neo-Malthusianism. Wilhelmina Drucker, the editor of the journal Evolutie, cited scientific research to prove that both women and men had sexual needs. Rejecting abstinence as a means of contraception, she considered it unfair to expect “two beings who have sworn to live their lives together and to share everything, except the most intimate companionship, that unites them with the sweetest bond. . . What a mockery of marriage!”68 In the Netherlands, the Neo-Malthusian League became an officially recognized organization in 1895.

Emilie Claeys, a textile worker from Ghent who became a leader of the socialist woman’s movement and the editor of its journal De Vrouw, began in 1893 to inform Belgian readers of the work of the Dutch birth controllers. By 1909, clinics sponsored by the Neo-Malthusian League in three Belgian cities—Malines, Antwerp, and Louvain—prescribed contraceptives, gave advice, and distributed literature.69

But after the turn of the century, fears of declining birthrates, especially among social elites, increased opposition to Neo-Malthusianism in both Holland and Belgium. Jacobs herself, who had become a prominent suffrage leader, withdrew from her public role as a birth-control advocate for fear of discrediting the suffrage movement. The Dutch women’s movement grew to include a more diverse constituency that included religious women who feared that technological contraception would degrade women by making them “the playthings of men.” The leaders of the Malthusian League, Johannes Rutgers and his wife Marie Rutgers-Hoitsema, responded with the medical argument that sexual abstinence caused mental and physical illness in both sexes.70 However, new laws that were passed in 1911 that regulated the sale of contraception and broadened laws against abortion met with little feminist protest.71 In Belgium, the passage of a similar bill proposed in 1912 was prevented by the outbreak of war in 1914.72

In France, the majority of feminists strongly supported maternalist views of sexual morality. Those who campaigned for the recognition of maternity as “a social function” promoted voluntary motherhood, but not family limita­tion. As we have already seen, many French feminists held men responsible for low birthrates, and insisted that women, when given the rights of citizen­ship, would become willing mothers.73 Like their British counterparts, they believed that reproductive decisions should be made by women. “Women dream of an ideal union—to be united in ideas, in supreme thought—to be the mistress of the mind of man, to direct him,” wrote the influential intellectual Celine Renooz, and Lydie Martial likewise declared that “the enlightened woman” (“la femme consciente”) was the “natural sexual regulator. . . who knows how to endow sexual life with order and temperance for the happiness of both sexes.”74

Swiss activists, who were closely allied with their French colleagues, took similar positions. Emma Piecynska served with the legal scholar Louis Bridel on the editorial board of a journal entitled Social Morality (Morale Sociale), which in 1901 published an article by Johannes Rutgers, the head of the Dutch Neo-Malthusian Society. A response to Rutgers by Piecynska expressed the journal’s editorial position on the vexed question of birth control. Though she conceded that contraception might help mothers who were sick, exhausted, or victims of abuse, she asserted that most women had serious reservations about practices that seemed to affirm male supremacy in its most odious form. Piecynska protested that women were “indignant about the prerogatives exercised by male sensuality over the freedom, the health, and the entire destiny of women.” She proposed an educational program for both men and women that emphasized the advantages of sexual self-restraint—a program for which her own course had provided a model—as a solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancy.75

In the French-speaking world, birth control found its chief supporters among anarchists such as Paul Robin, who founded the League for Human Regeneration in 189 6.76 Female activists who aspired to respectability remained aloof from this group because of its radical leadership. Neo – Malthusianism attracted only a small group of French feminists, but these were among the movement’s most original thinkers. They shifted their emphasis from the economic theories that fascinated their male colleagues to the liberation of mothers, the health of children, and the harmony of families. Nelly Roussel denied that declining birthrates were a sign of national weakness and declared that they showed progress toward a higher level of civilization in which mothers were free and children were wanted and cared for. Among the bravest and most isolated apostles of birth control was the physician Madeleine Pelletier, who asserted that women also had sexual needs: “the sexual instinct also speaks in her.”77 Pelletier, who was of working-class origin, defended the right to abortion—a practice that was widespread among working-class women but considered by middle-class reformers to be crude and repulsive.78 Pelletier demanded the legalization of abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy.79 She looked forward to a new form of the family in which “the raising of children will be the responsibility of both parents.”80

Roussel, herself the mother of three children, harshly criticized male sexual behavior: that of the worker who “after a drunken binge impregnates his wife without any thought for the future” and that of the wealthy man about town.81 But she declared that “love is a noble and complex emotion. . . and feminism must rehabilitate it.”82 And Gabrielle Petit, editor of the Neo-Malthusian journal La Femme Affranchie, predicted that if the father was “a beloved, well-chosen companion,” he would “cooperate with the mother, with all his heart, in the upbringing and education of their cherished children.”83

But it was in Germany that the new ideology of birth control and sexual reform found its strongest support among feminists, for reasons that were both organizational and intellectual. The BfM, which by comparison to the French and British Neo-Malthusian groups was a very large organization (at its height in 1908 it boasted about 3800 members), included many promi­nent intellectuals. As we have seen, Germany was a center of research in sexology, and many leaders of this field belonged to the BfM and wrote for its journal. In addition, birth control was debated in the German socialist party, where the ideas of the French anarchists had won wide acceptance among the rank and file, though not among most of the leaders.84 The German socialist Adele Schreiber, for example, was an admirer of Nelly Roussel, whom she sought out in Paris in 1910.85

Helene Stocker melded these diverse intellectual currents into a new ideology that combined the emancipation of women, the pursuit of eugenic quality, and an egalitarian ideal of parenthood. Motherhood, she insisted, must be the free choice of a free woman and it must enhance rather than arrest the development of her personality. Sexual gratification and love, moreover, were as important as reproduction. “We will not allow ourselves to be deprived of the love of men,” she insisted, “or of the love of children.” Stocker hoped that shared sexual pleasure would bring an end to gender conflict, and exhorted men and women to “work together toward the devel­opment of both, so that man and woman do not face each other as enemies, but begin to understand that one sex cannot exist without the other.”86

Although Stocker’s radical ideology was never endorsed by the majority of German feminists, it briefly gained considerable visibility within their umbrella organization, the League of German Women’s Associations (Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine, or BDF). From 1899 until 1910 Marie Stritt, who was a member of the BfM and a birth-control activist, served as presi­dent of the BDF. In 1908 the BDF’s Committee on Legal Reform, also headed by Stritt, drew up a general proposal for the reform of the criminal law code of the German Empire, where access to contraception was limited by obscenity laws and abortion was forbidden. The proposal included the complete elimination of penalties for abortion (Paragraph 218 of the criminal code). The debate on this proposal at the annual meeting of the BDF in 1908 pitted maternalists against birth controllers. Opponents of the proposal asserted that the legalization of abortion would deliver women over to the rapacious male sex drive. Throughout nature, objected the anti­prostitution crusader Katharina Scheven, the sexual act was intended for reproduction, and only the human species had diverted it from its proper purpose and made it “a source of physical pleasure, completely devoid of consequences and responsibility.”87 In defense of the proposal, the legal expert Camilla Jellinek claimed right to “the freedom of the personality, to which above all belongs the disposal over one’s own body.”88 But Jellinek did not rely on this controversial claim, but hastened to add that the nation, too, would be strengthened by the birth of children who were wanted, healthy, and carefully nurtured.

The BDF, which had recently admitted a large and conservative religious organization, the League of Protestant Women (Deutsch-Evangelische Frauenbund), to membership, voted down the resolution of the Legal Committee—an action that has sometimes been interpreted as a triumph of conservatism that was consolidated by the succession of the moderate Gertrud Baumer as president in 1910.89 But in its willingness even to discuss this issue, the BDF was unique among all contemporary national feminist organizations. Moreover, the majority did not uphold the existing prohibi­tion, but voted to legalize abortion in cases of rape or fetal defect or to protect the life of the mother—indications that they proposed should be established by a committee upon which women were represented.90 The compromise resolution, reported by Marie Stritt in person, was received with approval by the League of Austrian Women’s Associations (Bund Osterreichischer Frauenvereine).91 Of course, German lawmakers did not act on this proposal. The leaders of the BfM continued to support birth control, in 1911 by attending the International Neo-Malthusian Congress, and in 1912 by changing the subtitle of its periodical, The New Generation (Die neue Generation), to read “The Publication of the International Association for the Protection of Mothers and Sexual Reform and the International Neo-Malthusian Committee.”92

The influence of the BfM spread to Scandinavia, where Frida Steenhoff headed a Swedish branch and Katti Anker Moller tried unsuccessfully to found one in Norway. Moller declared in 1910 that the use of contraception for family planning would ensure the happiness of families and the right of all children “to expect that they are welcome.”93 But she found little support for this position from the mainstream feminists of her country, the Norwegian National Women’s Council, who agreed to publish her textbook for women on sex education in 1915 but deleted the chapter on contraception.94

In the area of birth control, as of sex education, maternalist ideals of chastity and self-restraint were gradually superseded by more scientific theories that affirmed sex as a natural need and glorified heterosexual love as the right of both sexes. But this raised urgent ethical and philosophical questions. Maternalists had assumed that gender alone conferred upon women the moral authority to guide sexual relationships. Because the woman could “never forget the final end of sexual union, the child,” wrote Emma Piecynska, she was “more likely to take a sane and moral view of the conjugal union.” And many combined feminism with strong religious convictions. “What woman wills, God wills,” concluded Piecynska.95 But a more scientific and secular view of sexuality discredited claims both to innate female virtue and to religious authority. By what ethical principles, then, would sexuality and reproduction be guided? Helene Stocker remarked that the “old tables of the law are broken, but the new tables are only half written.”96 Could new ethical guidelines be derived from science itself? Some feminists sought the answer to this question in the field of eugenics—a problematic quest that we will now consider.

During this period, the lifting of the taboos that had long inhibited the discussion of sexuality and reproduction was widely recognized as the first step toward the empowerment of women in the family and the marital relationship. The responsibility for initiating that discussion was placed on mothers themselves, who often proved unequal to the task. “May I say, first of all,” wrote another anonymous correspondent of the Women’s Cooperative Guild, “that lack of knowledge causes, in nearly every case, much unnecessary suffering… I might say that I was very ignorant when I was married; my mother did not consider it at all proper to talk about such things.”29 Literature and drama often attributed all the sexual and marital misfortunes of young women to their mothers’ culpable silence. “Tell me, dear mother,” begged Wendla, the heroine of Frank Wedekind’s drama, Spring’s Awakening. “I’m ashamed of myself. Please, please speak. . . . how does it happen? . . . You cannot expect that I, who am fourteen years old, still believe in the stork.”30 Wendla later died of a botched abortion.

But was the mother, herself raised in ignorance, qualified to impart the sav­ing knowledge to her children? On this issue, contemporary commentators divided into two groups, designated by the historian Claudia Nelson as maternalists and professionalists. The first group held to the traditional view of woman as the moral center of her family, who by both precept and example taught self-restraint and chastity to her male and female children. But the second group wished to shift the responsibility of sexual education to the state, which through its qualified teachers could present the subject with scientific accuracy and objectivity. This was a very radical proposal; few sex education courses existed in schools in any country during this era.31

Among the maternalists was the British Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, who attracted international attention both as a crusader for the reform of marriage laws and as the author (with her partner, Ben Elmy) of books for children on the facts of life. Elizabeth Elmy believed that the right kind of sex education would strengthen women’s position in the family by teaching children to respect their mothers. She assigned no educational role to fathers, contributing to what Nelson calls the “growing sense that adult men could contribute little to child-rearing in the home.”32 The Elmy couple’s most famous book, Baby Buds, was written for small children and published in 1895. The narrator traced her authority directly to her personal experience: “and in telling you how baby was born, I shall also be telling you how you yourself came to me as a baby, over four years ago.”33 Starting with the plant and animal kingdoms, the story placed human parenthood in the context of the natural world. Mothers throughout nature were shown choosing their partners and controlling the rearing of their young. By contrast, animal and human fathers were shown in roles that were decorative or domestic, but always subordinate, and their procreative role was never explained: “how this truly comes about,” the young reader was warned, “you can scarcely understand until you are older.”34

Sex education was also a prominent theme of discussion among Dutch feminists. Some dismissed it as a new and deplorable fad. “Isn’t it bad enough that men speak and write so coarsely?” wrote Elise van Calcar. “Must women too step forward without blushing and tell the public about things that our mothers and grandmothers whispered to their daughters in their boudoirs?”35 However, a more positive attitude was shown by the organizers of the National Exhibition of Women’s Work, held in Amsterdam in 1899, where a session was devoted to the theme of “moral education.”36

The best-known Dutch promoter of sex education for children was the teacher Nellie van Kol, whose illustrated book entitled Mother and Child (Moeder en Kind) was published in 1898 and by 1900 had been reprinted in six editions. Like Elmy, van Kol framed her story as a private discussion between mother and child, which started with the animal kingdom and con­cluded with the human mother. In an article in the feminist periodical Evolutie, van Kol argued on the basis of her own experience that children respected mothers who told the truth. Even more important, however, was the child’s loving response. “And my little angel realized how much pain she had caused me and embraced me tenderly. So a flower of love and gratitude grew out of the fertile soil of truth.”37 Some educators warned that such images of maternal martyrdom might have the undesirable effect of deterr­ing young girls from motherhood.38 In the Netherlands, where most pub­lic schools were church-affiliated, school based sex education found few supporters.

In France, where public schools were secular, the professionalist view of sex education—which called for its inclusion in school curricula—had stronger support. Lydie Martial, founder of an organization entitled “Women’s Philosophy” (“La Pensee feminine”) insisted with considerable bravado that courses on the responsibilities of fatherhood should be held not only in schools but in other public settings, including military barracks.39 However, others feared that this might undermine the authority of mothers by transferring the responsibility for sex education from the home to the male-dominated school environment. This question featured prominently on the agenda of the conference of the International Council of Women, held in Paris in 1913. Some delegates, for example, Marguerite De Witt Schlumberger, insisted that sex education should be left to mothers, who could be expected to care the most about protecting daughters from “masculine immorality” and teaching sons to respect women. However, the prestigious gynecologist Dr. Pinard, who as a male ally participated in the discussion, placed the authority of the state above that of the mother, charging that few mothers had the scientific expertise to convey the information correctly.40

The prominent educator Pauline Kergomard, who took a leading role in this discussion, was torn between maternalist and professionalist approaches. She argued that the enlightenment of children was “the right of the mother,” but that many mothers (particularly those of the working class) lacked the requisite time and knowledge. Kergomard proposed that each school should offer a course to both boys and girls that emphasized both factual knowledge and “self-respect and respect for the other sex.” However, she had strong reservations about leaving this instruction to regular classroom teachers, who were too often men and thus (in her view) unqualified to teach such sensitive material to mixed classes. She was also convinced that the introduction of sex education into the schools would provide the Catholic Church with an additional rationale for its already virulent opposition to secular public education. The conference as a whole thus rejected a resolution calling for sex education in school, and instead offered a compromise: “parents should consider the sexual education of their children as a duty,” but “if the mother cannot educate her children, this function should be performed by other people.”41 The inconsistency between the references to parents and mothers expressed a real ambivalence—never openly discussed—about the possible role of fathers in the task of sex education.

Though she agreed that mothers often lacked scientific knowledge, the Swiss educator Emma Piecynska did not believe that sex education must be left to professional teachers, but rather that mothers must be educated. Born in 1854, Emma Reichenbach was the daughter of a wealthy Swiss family who was raised in Paris and married the Polish Count Piecynski, from whom she later separated. Her original ambition—to become a physician—was thwarted by an illness that left her permanently deaf. Having been introduced to feminism by her life partner Helene de Mulinen (who later headed her country’s largest feminist organization, the League of Swiss Women’s Associations, Bund schweizerischer Frauenvereine or Alliance Nationale des Societes Feminines), Piecynska became a supporter of the International Abolitionist Federation, which campaigned to abolish state-regulated prosti­tution and to encourage responsible sexual behavior. In 1895, she taught courses to adults on “the laws of reproduction and the education of human­ity on this subject” in Geneva and Bern, and later published her lectures under the title The School of Purity (L’Ecole de la Purete). She defied the conventional prejudice that confined the scientific study of reproduction to (mostly male) experts but denied it to mothers themselves. “It is not the scientists and philosophers who have the most important right to this infor­mation,” she wrote. “We [women] cannot leave it… to specialists. We are the specialists.”42 Piecynska became a popular lecturer who spoke to female secondary-school students as well as to adults, and received many letters from her admirers asking for advice on sexual and marital problems.43

In Germany, the land of scientific progress, the professionalist standpoint was strongly represented. To be sure, many works on child-rearing that were widely read in Germany, including Ellen Key’s The Century of the Child, had called on mothers, to teach “the facts of life.”44 However the League for the Protection of Mothers (BfM) took a position that was strongly influenced by the new scientific field of sexology. The leader of this field, Havelock Ellis, had considerably more influence in Germany than in his native Britain. Ellis and his German admirers proposed a compromise solution: mothers were the natural educators of small children in sexual as in other matters, but they lacked the scientific qualifications to instruct older children—a task that would be better accomplished by qualified teachers of both genders.45 The professional teachers who made up a substantial portion of the League’s membership strongly favored a state-mandated program of sex education.

In 1906, the BfM petitioned the cultural ministries of all the German states to include the subject in school curricula. Maria Lichnewska, a leader of the organization who was also a teacher, justified the petition by arguing that the trend of the times was to make “education into a public concern and to remove it from the sphere of the home.” She cited a scandal in Hamburg, where in 1906 a teacher had been disciplined for giving factual information to a schoolgirl, to underscore the need for instruction in schools.46 By con­trast, the leader of the League of Austrian Women’s Organizations, Marianne Hainisch, rejected school-based sex education: though teachers might be qualified to dispense scientific information, parents must retain their authority on moral questions.47

In Scandinavia, individuals and groups who were affiliated with International League for the Protection of Mothers and Sexual Reform, particularly the Swedish Frida Steenhoff and the Norwegian Katti Anker Moller, likewise campaigned for sex education. And the newly enfranchised women of Norway included it in their political program. The Norwegian National Council of Women compromised on the vexed issue of parental versus school based sexual education. In 1913, the organization opened a competition for “medical women and men for the best book on this subject, which can be used by the teachers or by the parents in their homes. Women are the most awake to the question of how to keep the young boys and girls pure and healthy—how to protect the fountain of life.”48

It was in Britain that the controversy between maternalist and professionalist approaches to sex education caused the most open conflict. In 1913 an elementary school teacher, Miss Outram, who was an advocate of both eugenics and woman suffrage, gave her religion class some texts that she claimed to have received from America. The first adapted the Biblical creation story to include a rather imprecise account of human reproduction. The second consisted of a conversation between father and son on “the mysterious feeling that men have for women and women have for men.”49 The parents of the school district responded with outrage that the teacher had usurped their prerogatives and undermined their authority. “It is too disgusting for the children to know—they have not the same respect for their parents when they know that,” complained a mother.50 However the local school authority, the Derbyshire Education Committee, refused to dismiss Outram, and the controversy was broken off without any decisive resolution by the outbreak of war in 1914.

Feminist views of sex education thus reflected a broader transition from maternalist to professionalist views of sexuality. And the results did not fulfill feminists’ hopes that scientific learning would enhance the prestige and sta­tus of mothers. Maternalist educators had exalted the primacy of the mother-child relationship. “All human love has sprung in the first place from the love between mother and child,” Elmy wrote.51 Van Kol accorded moth­ers the dominant role in mate-selection and reproductive decision-making. “What happens to plants unconsciously, becomes a conscious process in human beings. . . . The woman gives herself only to the man whom she judges worthy to become the father of her child.”52 By contrast, professionalists downgraded the mother for her lack of scientific expertise, and recommended that the responsibility for sexual enlightenment be transferred to the state through public school systems. And in place of the moral principles taught by mothers—chastity and self-respect—scientific educators looked to eugenics for their guiding principles. Sex education, wrote Henriette Furth, must transmit the message that “each human being must strive to become so strong, beautiful and perfect that they are worthy to be the bearers of a new and better generation.”53

An educational literature that was framed in the austere language of science could hardly be expected to gain the popularity to which the educators aspired. But a far more appealing approach would soon be initiated by Marie Carmichael Stopes. Stopes, who was born in Edinburgh in 1880, had attained a doctorate in a scientific field, paleo-botany, and was thirty-one years of age when she married a fellow scientist in 1911. Her wide reading of scientific literature had included even works of sexology, but had apparently left her without some basic knowledge. According to her own account, after several years of marriage she was unable to understand why she had not yet become pregnant until she found out from a physician that she was still a vir­gin. Whatever the truth of this story—which her husband contested—it enabled Stopes to divorce him for non-consummation. And she felt deeply deprived—of maternity but even more of sexual fulfillment. In her best-selling book, Married Love, published in 1918, she deplored the plight of “our educated girls, composed of virgin sweetness shut up in ignorance.”54 Stopes would later popularize both birth control and sex education by extolling not only eugenic principles, but also the joys of heterosexual love.