Why The Woman Rebel?
Margaret Sanger 1914
Because I believe that deep down in woman’s nature lies slumbering the spirit of revolt.
Because I believe that woman is enslaved by the world machine, by sex conventions, by motherhood and its present necessary child-rearing, by wage-slavery, by middle-class morality, by customs, laws and superstitions.
Because I believe that woman’s freedom depends upon awakening that spirit of revolt within her against these things which enslave her.
Because I believe that these things which enslave woman must be fought openly, fearlessly, consciously.
Because I believe she must consciously disturb and destroy and be fearless in its accomplishment.
Because I believe in freedom, created through individual action.
Because I believe in the offspring of the immigrant, the great majority of whom make up the unorganized working class to-day.
Because I believe that this immigrant with a vision, an ideal of a new world where liberty, freedom, kindness, plenty hold sway, who had courage to leave the certain old for the uncertain new to face a strange new people, new habits, a strange language, for this vision, this ideal, certainly has brought to this country a wholesome spirit of unrest which this generation of Americans has lost through a few generations of prosperity and respectability.
Because I believe that on the courage, vision and idealism of the immigrant and the offspring does the industrial revolution depend.
Because I believe that through the efforts of the industrial revolution will woman’s freedom emerge.
Because I believe that not until wage slavery is abolished can either woman’s or man’s freedom be fully attained.
Because I have six months’ time to devote to arousing this slumbered spirit in the working woman, and if within this time I shall have succeeded in arousing my own laggard self I shall have succeeded sufficiently to continue this paper until all the slumbered spirits have awakened to its assistance or its destruction.
I could just write ditto and call it a day, but its a little more complex than that. Sure, we’ve progressed quite a bit in the almost century since this was written, but in many ways we haven’t.
Women are still expected to be the primary caregivers of their children, they’re just expected to add a job on top of that now; sex conventions still make it hard to be queer and accepted; the divide between the rich and the poor just keeps getting wider; sexist ideals still put us all, male and female, into little boxes that no one really quite fits into… do you get where I am going with this?
Anyone can be a woman rebel, what’s in your pants doesn’t matter… what’s in your heart and mind does. In fact, I would argue that we all need to be women rebels because there is a lot still left to change.
A woman rebel looks at the world, sees the stuff that pisses her off… and then does something about it! A woman rebel is not a humanist, or a feminist, or a democrat, or a republican, or white, or black, or purple, or christian, or jewish, or wiccan, or atheist, or straight, or gay, or queer, or loud, or quiet, or outgoing, or introverted, or right, or poor… she refuses to be labeled, to break down who she is into palatable little boxes for the rest of the world to hold onto. She could be all of these things or none of these things, depending on the moment… but always, she is a full and unique human being, much more than the sum of a bunch of boxes.
A woman rebel does not accept the status quo when the status quo is wrong, she is brave in her own way and she uses her own power to create change in the hearts and minds of those around her.
You have it in you to be a woman rebel, we all do… the only thing left to do is get out there and prove it.