Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from the Turn of the Century to the Baby Boom
Wendy Kline's lucid cultural history of eugenics in America emphasizes the movement's central, continuing interaction with popular notions of gender and morality. Kline shows how eugenics could seem a viable solution to problems of moral disorder and sexuality, especially female sexuality, during the first half of the twentieth century. Its appeal to social conscience and shared desires to strengthen the family and civilization sparked widespread public as well as scientific interest.
Kline traces this growing public interest by looking at a variety of sources, including the astonishing "morality masque" that climaxed the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition; the nationwide correspondence of the influential Human Betterment Foundation in Pasadena, California; the medical and patient records of a "model" state institution that sterilized thousands of allegedly feebleminded women in California between 1900 and 1960; the surprising political and popular support for sterilization that survived initial interest in, and then disassociation from, Nazi eugenics policies; and a widely publicized court case in 1936 involving the sterilization of a wealthy young woman deemed unworthy by her mother of having children.
Kline's engaging account reflects the shift from "negative eugenics" (preventing procreation of the "unfit") to "positive eugenics," which encouraged procreation of the "fit," and it reveals that the "golden age" of eugenics actually occurred long after most historians claim the movement had vanished. The middle-class "passion for parenthood" in the '50s had its roots, she finds, in the positive eugenics campaign of the '30s and '40s. Many issues that originated in the eugenics movement remain controversial today, such as the use of IQ testing, the medical ethics of sterilization, the moral and legal implications of cloning and genetic screening, and even the debate on family values of the 1990s. Building a Better Race not only places eugenics at the center of modern reevaluations of female sexuality and morality but also acknowledges eugenics as an essential aspect of major social and cultural movements in the twentieth century.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
From Segregation to Sterilization Changing Approaches to the Problem of Female Sexuality
Sterilization without Unsexing Eugenics and the Politics of Reproduction
A New Deal for the Child Ann Cooper Hewitt and Sterilization in the 1930s
Marriage Is Not Complete without Children Positive Eugenics 19301960
Other editions - View all
American Eugenics Society Ann's argued AVS box 14 believed Biennial Report birth control birthrate Board of Charities box 14 folder Butler campaign Charities and Corrections Charles Davenport child civilization claimed Commission in Lunacy concern culture defective doctors Ellsworth Huntington emphasis eugenic sterilization eugenic-sterilization eugenicists feebleminded female sexual feminine gender genics Goddard Gosney Papers Havelock Ellis heredity History homosexuality Human Betterment Foundation Ibid Institute Journal Lewis Terman M-F test male Margaret Sanger marital masculinity mental deficiency modern moron mother motherhood nineteenth-century normal parenthood parents patients Paul Popenoe percent physicians Popenoe's popular positive eugenics prevent Private Vice procedure procreation Progressivism promiscuity promoted prostitutes Public Virtue Race Betterment racial reformers reproductive morality result Robert Dickinson role salpingectomy segregation sexual behavior social workers society Sonoma State Home sterilization advocates Sterilization in California sterilization law superintendent Terman Papers tion University Press Vice to Public woman womanhood women working-class York
Page 13 - ... the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable than they otherwise would have had.