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Analysis of Margaret Sanger’s Speech on Birth Control

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Historically, women have had to face a large amour of discriminations toward themselves in society, workplace, politics and in the effort to receive a better education. Within the past decades, women have been discriminated against in many different aspects and have struggled throughout their day to day lives. However, many people have also taken significant action in standing up for the female population and working to improve their lives. Those individuals who have fought for women’s rights have greatly impacted and improved the lives of women. For example, Margaret Sanger, a well-known women’s rights activist and one of the most influential advocates for women’s self-empowerment. Sanger promoted the radical idea of birth control as a movement for social change. She fought for women being in charge of their bodies. In this rhetorical analysis paper, there will be discussed how Margaret Sanger used her 1921 speech, “The Morality of Birth Control,” to attempt to convince her audience to legalize birth control and that women should be in charge of their bodies. Sanger employed the rhetorical appeal of ethos and pathos.

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Sanger begins her speech with, “The meeting tonight is a postponement of one which was to have taken place at the Town Hall last Sunday evening.” By using an opening like this, she created the feeling of guilt towards her audience because the speech was originally scheduled to be delivered at the close of the First American Birth Control Conference on Nov. 13, 1921, this address was made on Nov. 18 after the police raided the Town Hall and arrested Sanger, so the speech was given at the Park Theatre, in New York. After that, Sanger says, “the most respectable and moral members of the community,” emphasizing that the women that have gotten birth control, and used it correctly, create a method to extract a feeling of power, recognition and popularity to society. Throughout the whole speech, Margaret Sanger writes in first person, creating a connection between her and the targeted audience for an easier understanding of her points.

Next, Sanger included, “those irresponsible and reckless ones,” to verbally attack the part of the audience that oppose to her and that do not believe birth control is right. Angerly, she also criticizes the region of those irresponsible and reckless ones, to grab more attention toward her main point. “if we cannot trust women with the knowledge of her body, then I claim that two thousand years of Christian teaching has proved to be a failure,” by saying this, she is creating a moment of suspense and a deeper criticism towards the opponents of birth control.

Sanger creates the appeal of ethos by bringing morality into the topic and makes men feel like women truly are entitled to their own decisions in their household by saying, “We claim that women should have the right over her own body and to say if she shall or is she shall not be a mother, as she sees fit,” by saying this, she is emphasizing that women are the only ones that know what is good for them and their families. She also uses this part of her speech, “We claim that women should have the right over her own body and to say if she shall or is, she shall not be a mother, as she sees fit,” to the appeal of pathos. Her intentions are to make men aware of all the difficulties that women have to go through.

To end the speech, the author created the appeal of ethos by saying, “Groups are diseased, feeble-minded” and “We desire to stop at its source the disease, poverty and feeble-mindedness and insanity which exist today, for these lower standards of civilization and make for race deterioration,” Sanger is establishing her credibility as a well-educated nurse, attending Claverack College and Hudson River Institute and completing the nursing program at White Plains Hospital. Sangers also gains credibility by experiencing the death of her mother at age of 50, which was caused from the physical toll of eleven pregnancies. She created a strong connection with women victims of unwanted pregnancies across the Unites States. She understood the need of an immediate change about the control of size of families and the awareness about methods of birth control.

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Overall, the speech delivered by Margaret Sanger at the Park Theatre, in New York City shows how much of an influence she had in the birth control movement in this speech. The proper use of her voice and writing were incredibly inspiring to many people.

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Analysis of Margaret Sanger’s Speech on Birth Control. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2023, from
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