In the exercise of these powers, in the building up and integration of her own experience, in mastering her own environment the true education of woman must be sought. And in the sphere of sex, the great source and root of all human experience, it is upon the basis of Birth Control—the voluntary direction of her own sexual expression—that woman must take her first step in the assertion of freedom and self-respect.
(1) Folkways, p. 492.
CHAPTER XII: Woman and the Future
I saw a woman sleeping.
In her sleep she dreamed Life stood
before her, and held in each hand a gift—in the one Love, in
the other Freedom. And she said to the woman, “Choose!”
And the woman waited long: and she said, “Freedom!”
And Life said, “Thou has well chosen. If thou hadst said, `Love,’ I would have given thee that thou didst ask for; and I would have gone from thee, and returned to thee no more. Now, the day will come when I shall return. In that day I shall bear both gifts in one hand.”
I heard the woman laugh in her sleep.
By no means is it necessary to look forward to some vague and distant date of the future to test the benefits which the human race derives from the program I have suggested in the preceding pages. The results to the individual woman, to the family, and to the State, particularly in the case of Holland, have already been investigated and recorded. Our philosophy is no doctrine of escape from the immediate and pressing realities of life, on the contrary, we say to men and women, and particularly to the latter: face the realities of your own soul and body; know thyself! And in this last admonition, we mean that this knowledge should not consist of some vague shopworn generalities about the nature of woman—woman as created in the minds of men, nor woman putting herself on a romantic pedestal above the harsh facts of this workaday world. Women can attain freedom only by concrete, definite knowledge of themselves, a knowledge based on biology, physiology and psychology.
Nevertheless it would be wrong to shut our eyes to the vision of a world of free men and women, a world which would more closely resemble a garden than the present jungle of chaotic conflicts and fears. One of the greatest dangers of social idealists, to all of us who hope to make a better world, is to seek refuge in highly colored fantasies of the future rather than to face and combat the bitter and evil realities which to-day on all sides confront us. I believe that the reader of my preceding chapters will not accuse me of shirking these realities; indeed, he may think that I have overemphasized the great biological problems of defect, delinquency and bad breeding. It is in the hope that others too may glimpse my vision of a world regenerated that I submit the following suggestions. They are based on the belief that we must seek individual and racial health not by great political or social reconstruction, but, turning to a recognition of our own inherent powers and development, by the release of our inner energies. It is thus that all of us can best aid in making of this world, instead of a vale of tears, a garden.