By Wendy Kline
Wendy Kline's lucid cultural historical past of eugenics in the USA emphasizes the movement's critical, carrying on with interplay with well known notions of gender and morality. Kline indicates how eugenics could appear a doable option to difficulties of ethical ailment and sexuality, in particular girl sexuality, in the course of the 1st 1/2 the 20th century. Its attract social moral sense and shared wants to enhance the kin and civilization sparked frequent public in addition to clinical curiosity. Kline strains this becoming public curiosity by way of a number of assets, together with the magnificent "morality masque" that climaxed the 1915 Panama Pacific overseas Exposition; the national correspondence of the influential Human Betterment origin in Pasadena, California; the scientific and sufferer documents of a "model" country establishment that sterilized hundreds of thousands of allegedly feebleminded girls in California among 1900 and 1960; the superb political and renowned help for sterilization that survived preliminary curiosity in, after which disassociation from, Nazi eugenics rules; and a greatly publicized courtroom case in 1936 related to the sterilization of a filthy rich younger girl deemed unworthy by way of her mom of getting young ones. Kline's enticing 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 such a lot historians declare the stream had vanished. The middle-class "passion for parenthood" within the '50s had its roots, she unearths, within the confident eugenics crusade of the '30s and '40s. Many matters that originated within the eugenics flow stay debatable this day, resembling using IQ trying out, the clinical ethics of sterilization, the ethical and felony implications of cloning and genetic screening, or even the talk on relations values of the Nineteen Nineties. construction a higher Race not just locations eugenics on the middle of contemporary reevaluations of woman sexuality and morality but additionally recognizes eugenics as a vital point of significant social and cultural events 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
And by encouraging middle-class white women to return to full-time motherhood, eugenics would both prevent the new woman from succeeding in her “vain attempts to Wll men’s places”36 and ensure that the white race once again would be healthy and proliWc. In order to understand how and why eugenic ideology linked anxieties about race with those of gender, we need to return to the 1915 San Francisco Panama PaciWc Exposition, the Wrst popular exhibition in which eugenicists participated. Realizing that a well-attended event such as a world’s fair would be an ideal place to popularize the cause of race progress, eugenicists chose the 1915 San Francisco Exposition as the location for the National Conference on Race Betterment.
92 The location of the 1915 Panama PaciWc International Exposition in San Francisco also suggested the growing importance and inXuence of California in national and global aVairs. 93 Its eugenics policies, which were immensely important, are, however, a neglected area of study. 94 Many more participated in the debate over sterilization, morality, and motherhood by discussing the issue in school, reading about popularized cases in newspapers, and attending the Exposition. In order to understand how eugenic ideology continued to draw popular and state support long after the Progressive era, we need to turn now to the speciWc strategies developed by eugenicists on the institutional level.
These opposing models of womanhood—the mother of tomorrow and the “feebleminded” woman adrift—suggest the importance of gender to eugenic ideology and the desire for race progress. While the mother of tomorrow symbolized the eugenic ideal, the woman adrift represented the dysgenic threat. The eugenic construction of womanhood was doubleedged: it contained the potential not only for racial progress but also for racial destruction. Both models carried great symbolic weight in the eugenics movement and would remain pervasive in American culture through the 1950s.