Reforming Sex : The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion Reform, 1920-1950
Reforming Sex constructs and analyses a remarkable mass movement of doctors and lay people that demanded women's right to abortion and public access to birth control and sex education. Their story sheds light on current controversies about abortion, the role of doctors and the state in controlling women's bodies, and the possibilities for reforming and transforming relations between women and men.
- Hardback | 336 pages
- 160.8 x 241 x 25.7mm | 826.1g
- 19 May 1995
- Oxford University Press
- Oxford, United Kingdom
- 10 pp plates
Back cover copy
In Reforming Sex: The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion Reform, 1920 to 1950, Atina Grossmann reconstructs the complicated history of a movement that has been romanticized as the harbinger of 1960s sexual radicalism and demonized as a precursor to Nazi racial policy, but mostly buried and obscured by Nazi bookburnings and repression. Relying on a broad range of sources - from police reports, films and personal interviews to sex manuals unearthed from library basements and secondhand bookstores - the book analyzes a remarkable mass mobilization during the turbulent and innovative Weimar years of doctors and laypeople for women's rights to abortion and public access to birth control and sex education. Reforming Sex takes on questions of international context and comparison as well as continuity and discontinuity in twentieth century German history in a manner that other studies have not. The book follows Weimar sex reformers into the Third Reich, to exile around the world, and into both the Eastern and Western zones of postwar Germany. It demonstrates how deeply rooted eugenics ideology and American and Bolshevik models of modernity were in the Weimar movement. It also examines the drastic rupture between sex reform notions of social health and National Socialist population policy. The story of German sex reform provides a new perspective on post-World War II family planning programs; it sheds light on the long and lively background to current controversies about abortion, the role of doctors and the state in determining women's right to control their own bodies, and the possibilities for reforming and transforming sexual relations between men and women.
Her interesting study is backed up by primary sources from archives in the Federal Republic and former East Germany, as well as contemporary publications, and she is fully conversant with the existing critical literature. Altogether, this book fits naturally into a now growing library on German medical, social and sexual policy from 1918 to the present. * Michael H. Kater, York University, Social History of Medicine, Vol. 10, No. 2 '97 *