During her first and only successful lecture tour in China in 1922, Margaret Sanger set out to enlighten Chinese audiences by sharing information from the West about the modern, scientific practice of birth control. But the lines of communication were not so transparent, and her Chinese interlocutors were not only passive recipients in the process. This article highlights how gender and class identities critically affected the translation of Sanger’s message about birth control, through an analysis of Sanger’s autobiographical writings and coverage of her visit in Chinese periodicals. Although Sanger was keen to limit the fertility of lower-class Chinese women, for the most part her contraceptive message resonated among educated, middle-class Chinese men. Focusing on the influence of these varied gender and class identities allows us to delimit the boundaries of birth control discourse for educated Chinese women, who are otherwise largely absent from the historical record.


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pp. 61-83
Launched on MUSE
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