Gender Studies

Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from by Wendy Kline

By Wendy Kline

Wendy Kline's lucid cultural heritage of eugenics in the USA emphasizes the movement's relevant, carrying on with interplay with well known notions of gender and morality. Kline exhibits how eugenics could appear a workable method to difficulties of ethical illness and sexuality, particularly woman sexuality, in the course of the 1st half the 20th century. Its entice social sense of right and wrong and shared wants to boost the kinfolk and civilization sparked common public in addition to clinical curiosity. Kline lines this becoming public curiosity by way of taking a look at numerous resources, together with the impressive "morality masque" that climaxed the 1915 Panama Pacific foreign Exposition; the national correspondence of the influential Human Betterment beginning in Pasadena, California; the scientific and sufferer documents of a "model" kingdom establishment that sterilized millions of allegedly feebleminded ladies in California among 1900 and 1960; the stunning political and well known aid for sterilization that survived preliminary curiosity in, after which disassociation from, Nazi eugenics guidelines; and a generally publicized court docket case in 1936 regarding the sterilization of a prosperous younger lady deemed unworthy through her mom of getting young children. Kline's attractive account displays the shift from "negative eugenics" (preventing procreation of the "unfit") to "positive eugenics," which inspired procreation of the "fit," and it finds that the "golden age" of eugenics truly happened lengthy after so much historians declare the stream had vanished. The middle-class "passion for parenthood" within the '50s had its roots, she unearths, within the optimistic eugenics crusade of the '30s and '40s. Many matters that originated within the eugenics circulate stay arguable this day, similar to using IQ checking out, the clinical ethics of sterilization, the ethical and criminal implications of cloning and genetic screening, or even the controversy on kinfolk values of the Nineteen Nineties. development a larger Race not just areas eugenics on the middle of contemporary reevaluations of lady sexuality and morality but in addition recognizes eugenics as a vital point of significant social and cultural activities within the 20th century.

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Extra info for Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from the Turn of the Century to the Baby Boom

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43 Social observers in the early twentieth century, concerned about what they believed to be the destructive forces on the home front, made the same assumption that Darwin had. The “inferior members of society” were more promiscuous and therefore more proliWc than their superiors, they believed, and this promiscuity created the increase of mental and moral defectives. The most visible new Wgure challenging the manners and morals of Victorian culture—the working-class “woman adrift” or “charity girl”—took much of the blame.

87 Whether reformers perceived a subject’s problem as biological or environmental, family history took on a greater signiWcance than ever before, particularly a mother’s actions or behavior. Concerned with salvaging the healthy, stable American family and the centrality of motherhood, reformers stressed the importance of kinship and bloodlines regardless of whether they perceived an individual’s problem to have biological or environmental ori- Kline_001_208_text 8/3/01 2:44 PM Page 29 MOTHERHOOD, MORALITY, AND THE “MORON” 29 gins.

61 It was thus in opposition to normality that mental deWciency came to be understood by physicians and psychologists. In the quest to categorize and diagnose the feebleminded, a new language and a framework for “normal” intellectual development emerged as a focal point. Developed by psychologists and eugenicists, this language tapped into a burgeoning twentieth-century interest in the concept of normality and the centrality of intelligence to human progress. Though the western frontier of the United States was closing, Progressivism emphasized a new natural resource that required not land but mental cultivation: intelligence.

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