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The Bedroom and the State: The Changing Practices and Politics of Contraception and Abortion in Canada, 1880-1997 (2nd edition)by Angus Mclaren Arlene T. Mclaren
The decline of the birth rate is arguably the most important social change of the twentieth century in Canada. The Bedroom and the State, first published in 1986, examines the social, cultural, and technological reasons for this decline and answers such questions as:* What forms of contraception were used prior to the Pill?* How widespread and dangerous has abortion been?* Why were so many feminists, socialists, ministers, and doctors initially opposed to birth control?* Who were its first proponents in Canada?* Why has Quebec's birth rate fallen so precipitiously?* Why was contraception illegal until 1969?The Bedroom and the State is recognized as a landmark history of how Canadian men and women sought to limit births and how public figures sought to turn such concern to political purposes. In this second edition the authors have updated their conclusion and added a new chapter to cover denouementof the pro-choice/pro-life debate in Canada, to detail recent court challenges to Canadian law, and to describe recent developments in reproductive technologies and their significance for present and future generations.This excellent work reveals that the control of fertility has been a crucial factor in the history of the shifting power relationships of the sexes and the classes.
Was Canada immune to the racist currents of thought that swept central Europe in the 1920's and 1930's? In this landmark book Angus McLaren, co-author of The Bedroom and the State, examines the pervasiveness in Canada of the eugenic notion of "race betterment" and demonstrates that many Canadians believed that radical measures were justified to protect the community from the "degenerate." The sterilization of the feeble-minded in Alberta and British Columbia was merely the most dramatic attempt to limit the numbers of the "unfit." But in the decades prior to World War Two, eugenic preoccupations were to colour discussions of immigration restriction, birth control, mental testing, family allowances, and a host of similar social policies. Doctors, psychiatrists, geneticists, social workers, and mental hygienists provided an anxious Canadian middle class with the reassuring argument that poverty, crime, prostitution, and mental retardation were primarily the products of defective genes, not a defective social system. In explaining why biological solutions were sought for social problems McLaren not only provides a provocative reappraisal of the ideas and activities of a generation of feminists, political progressives, and public health propagandists but he also explores some of the roots of our not-so-latent racist tendencies.
Modernity in interwar Europe frequently took the form of a preoccupation with mechanizing the natural; fears and fantasies revolved around the notion that the boundaries between people and machines were collapsing. Reproduction in particular became a battleground for those debating the merits of the modern world. That debate continues today, and to understand the history of our anxieties about modernity, we can have no better guide than Angus McLaren. In Reproduction by Design, McLaren draws on novels, plays, science fiction, and films of the 1920s and '30s, as well as the work of biologists, psychiatrists, and sexologists, to reveal surprisingly early debates on many of the same questions that shape the conversation today: homosexuality, recreational sex, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, sex change operations, and in vitro fertilization. Here, McLaren brings together the experience and perception of modernity with sexuality, technology, and ecological concerns into a cogent discussion of science's place in reproduction in British and American cultural history.
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