Reforming Sex: The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion Reform, 1920-1950 / Edition 1

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Reforming Sex 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 right to abortion and public access to birth control and sex education. The book also follows Weimar sex reformers into the Third Reich, to exile around the world, and into both the Eastern and Western zones of postwar Germany, demonstrating not only how deeply rooted eugenics ideology and American and Bolshevik models of modernity were in the Weimar movement, but also the drastic rupture between sex reform notions of social health and National Socialist population policy.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Superb....Grossmann's stellar study of German reproductive politics is a model of historical scholarship, rich description, and essential analysis. It has sharp relevance for all of us who care about the contemporary struggles for human rights and women's rights worldwide."—Women's Review of Books

"The German movement for sexual and reproductive freedom early in this century was for its time the most radical in the world, both in its progressive and in its later reactionary Nazi periods. At a moment of revival of racist eugenics, when abortion and women's sexual activity remain violently contested, Atina Grossmann's careful, insightful, and vivid study is of the greatest relevance and import."—Linda Gordon, University of Wisconsin

"Atina Grossmann's book brilliantly illuminates 20th century German history. It breaks open the established approaches to the crisis of Weimar. It shows why gender, family, and sexuality belong at the center of the historian's agenda. It places the politics of the body—as the utopia of reproductive freedom and liberated sexuality, as the pursuit of social reform and rationalized living, and as a vision of comprehensive welfare, but also as the mania for discipline and regulation, the ordering of populations, and eventually the nightmare of the Nazi drive for racialized domination—right at the center of our attention. In its telling of the story of the sex reformers and this earlier moment of women's reproductive politics, finally, it reminds us onece again why German history still matters."—Geoff Eley, University of Michigan

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195121247
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/28/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: New Women and Families in the New Germany 3
2 "Prevent: Don't Abort": The Medicalization and Politicization of Sexuality 14
3 Birth Control, Marriage, and Sex Counseling Clinics: The Administration of Sex Reform 46
4 "Your Body Belongs to You": Abortion and the 1931 Campaign Against Paragraph 218 78
5 Forbidden Love: Sex Reform and the Crisis of the Republic, 1931 to 1933 107
6 Continuity and Discontinuity: Gleichschaltung and the Destruction of the Sex Reform Movement 136
7 Weimar Sex Reform in Exile 166
8 No Zero Hour: Abortion and Birth Control in Postwar Germany 189
Epilogue 213
Notes 217
Index 287
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