The history of birth control does have a contradictory past. In the Siegel and Hasday articles we read last week, we saw a history outlined in their articles dating back to the early nineteenth century. Women were claimed, under law, as being a part of a man therefore his property. Even when women were given the right to vote in 1920 and society appeared to be growing from it's traditional roots, women were still encouraged to stay with their abusers. The government urged the continuation and insulation of the family unit, to keep it as one cohesive piece to ensure the American ideal of a family unit. This was done by the loose legal repercussions for perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other sexually violent crimes. In terms of birth control, the government took a great interest and regulatory measures to ensure that a woman's uterus was in their hands and not in her own. These two contradictory state attitudes co-exist because of the government's obsession with the American ideal of a family unit. Not all women should be having children, Dorothy Roberts argues, only white women of certain socioeconomic classes. African American women up until 1989, referenced in her article, were urged to go on birth control and many endured arrests, sterilization, and other violent acts by government officials. Roberts argues that African American women having children does not 'mesh' with the American ideal of a white family. In terms of marital rape and domestic violence, the government will not interfere in order to blatantly ignore it. If a crime is not acknowledged by the government, Siegel discusses, then a perpetrator cannot be held accountable, therefore ensuring the continued belief marriage life is in the private sector and controlled by the patriarchal figure in the household.
In Roberts article, she discusses Sanger's relationship with the eugenics movement and the great contradiction and racism felt by African American women. Sanger believed that birth control was the only way that women could have true freedom (freedom from unwanted pregnancies.) If this was going to be achieved, believed in, and distributed at the rise of Eugenics, then Sanger must make the argument that birth control could better the Eugenics movement if distributed to the races that weigh America down. This helped in the widespread of birth control in America, but left a harsh mark on the African American population as being "unfit" to breed. This relationship that Sanger built, as argued by Roberts, is seen as a triumph for the white birth control movement, but the cause of much racial controversy surrounding birth control today.