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Margaret Sanger, "Conventions," Apr 1914.

Source: " The Woman Rebel, Apr 1914, p. 11 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Collected Documents Series C16:0525."


When women-feminists, radicals, calling themselves free-women, arrive at a place in life where they are compelled to face and defy conventions, they seldom do it. Go over a list of your acquaintances and see how few of them have been big enough or brave enough to live up to their principles or ideals. They will tell you that marriage really means nothing to them, that they recognize it is an institution which is nothing but forced prostitution upon the woman, they agree that only a union of two people based upon love should justify a continuous union, that the marriage license had nothing to do with love, that it is the marriage law which divides the female sex into moral and immoral women (whereas men have no such standards) they agree to these ideas, yet when the time comes for them to live up to these ideas, to give expression to their love without marriage, they have no back-bone, they whitewash their conscience by stating that they care so little for conventions; so little for the marriage license, that--they get married. There is the father and mother, and the dear aunt Laura, why should we hurt those poor dears, by doing something of which they do not approve? Every new adjustment of social relations is painful, someone is likely to object to the adjustment, yet does that justify one in not living up to the highest and best in one? No! To ignore conventions is not sufficient. That passive, non-resistant attitude does not build character. The fighting, aggressive, militant spirit of the English suffragette will create a womanhood in England which will put the American Suffragist to shame. It is effort which builds. It is effort which creates. It is effort which accomplishes, not always the results which it seeks, but the ultimate result of all struggle, the development of the individual, of the personality, of the freewoman.

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