What are plausible intellectual precedents of the sexual liberation movements in 1920s?
According to the authors, in late 1890s and early 1900s, Freud’s work highlighting sexuality, the research done by sexologist Havelock Ellis, the books by Carpenter, influenced the paradigm regarding sexuality in America. Freud’s work suggesting that sexuality is an essential aspect of living and is present starting from the very beginning of infancy, and the (sexual) energy condensing on different body parts all through the ages made a huge impact. Freud was the one who introduced the idea that, sexuality is a normal process of living beings, and functioning for the well-being of the individuals.
Similarly, Ellis’s work was a huge attempt in normalizing sexuality. He wrote masturbation to be “autoerotic forms of relaxation”, and sexuality should be characterized with “not more restraint, but more passion”.
Not because I am a psychoanalytically trained person, but because Freud’s work was revolutionary and he was (and still has been) harshly criticized by many for different reasons, in my reality-construction, I give most of the credit to Freud’s work. His new-perception (well, he has the precedents for sure,, but he was the one who put things clearly) of sexuality as a normal process, present from birth to death, triggered a paradigm shift. Sexuality, started to be perceived as a normal bodily function, rather than a tool for reproduction.
Along these intellectual pursuits, in 1920s the sexual liberation movements started to mushroom in here and there. People started to express their thoughts/feelings in a more liberated fashion. Similarly, the shift in body-politics reflected itself with regard to perceptions about contraception. Women started to say “It is my body, it is my decision”
What factors make the birth control movement significant?
First, as mentioned above, birth control movement reflects the paradigm shift with regard to sexuality. People started to perceive sexuality as a natural experience of their bodies and to own their experience. Second, as happens right after the paradigm shifts, protesting the reproduction-focused sexuality discourse, naturally created the discourse of contraception. Third, owning the body via birth control gradually lead to a paradigm shift regarding perception of marriage. “If we will not have babies, why we have to be married?” idea started to mushroom, and more and more people started to cohabitate, rather than getting married. Also, the birth control movement gradually shifted the perception of womanhood as well.
I believe, birth control is one of the worst things happened to patriarchy. If I was a proponent of patriarchy, I would definitely damn curse birth control (as the religious communities already do ahahah), because it does not only gives women a power to decide on their bodies (not to withdrawal of their hubbies or whatever) or to remain abstinent (and thus stayin away from the pleasure of a bodily function), but also to control their paths in the society. Birth control frees women from the idea of “fate” which is deadly enough from a religious/patriarchal point of view :o)