Margaret Sanger, ""Trapped!"," Oct 1918.
Published article. Source: Birth Control Review, Oct. 1918, 3 , Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of Congress microfilm, 16:119 .
Kitty Marion, a devoted laborer for the cause of Birth Control, has been arrested for imparting information concerning contraceptives. She will come to trial in New York, October 10th.
Arrest has no terrors for this woman consecrated to the freedom of her sisters. An actress, she left the London stage to become one of those militants who fought by the side of Emmeline Pankhurst for the enfranchisement of English women. For that cause she went to prison.
In prison, Kitty Marion went on a hunger strike. Of the horrors she endured while incarcerated, one hundred and twenty-eight forcible feedings constitute but a single item.
Her spirit strengthened rather than broken by these experiences, she kept up the fight in England until the coming of the World War put an end to the struggle for suffrage, through an understanding between representatives of the English government and the militants. Then she came to America to resume her stage career.
Birth Control, as a means of bringing women relief from the economic and physical slavery of large families, appealed to her as a more immediate and effective emancipation of woman than suffrage. To Birth Control she gave and is still giving the same single-minded devotion that she gave to the militant's battle. For this she has once more laid aside personal ambition, home and even many of the comforts of life.
Only through such a devotion could Kitty Marion have been trapped. For trapped she was -- trapped by one of those creatures who profess high ideals and practice baseness as a lucrative profession, one of the sort that shouts for war for democracy, but keeps clear of men with guns, preferring to stay at home and trap for hire women who have staked their all in a struggle for the freedom of their sex.
After all, there is something to be said for Judas. To earn his thirty pieces of silver, he betrayed a strong man, not an over generous woman. Afterwards, he had the decency to hang himself. Bamberger, of the mis-named Society for the Suppression of Vice, betrayed a women to whom he came whining for aid for another woman, and he will appear in court to testify against her. This appalling brazenness is due doubtless to the fact that he will not receive his pieces of silver until he has sworn to the "criminal" generosity of Kitty Marion and thereby to his own shame.
In order to snare this woman who had placed her all upon the altar of woman's freedom, Bamberger played the agent provocateur. Fortunately, this abhorrent term is not as familiar to American ears as it is to those of the oppressed of other countries. The agent provocateur is the shamed and shameless, disowned and uncontenanced spawn of the vilest tyranny the world has ever witnessed. Known wherever oppression flourished he attained the height of his vulturous activities in the reign of the unlamented czar who quaked in his hidden chambers while he bargained away an enslaved people to titled parasites, to foreign plutocrats, and finally, in spite of his agreements with his allies, to the Kaiser.
Conscienceless, prostitute in honor, gorging upon human misery, this creature earned alike the hate of those whom he betrayed and those whom he served for the monetary offal of his filthy trade. In America, the ironically called Society for the Suppression of Vice, has brought into play the native specimen of this monstrous instrument of dead and dying tyrannies.
This is the same Society that, in the persons of one Sumner and of Bamberger, who with too credulous contributors constitute its being, has devoted its quasi-legal activities to suppressing fearless literature, inspired works of art and movements for the betterment of mankind. It is the same Society who, in the person of the same Sumner, was pilloried recently by Frank Harris in a series of magazine articles as yet unanswered, though they contained charges that would have brought sleepless nights to clean men.
It was upon the first day of August that the agent provocateur called upon Kitty Marion. He came, as his kind always comes, with a story of misfortune, with a plea to save a woman, his wife, from hardships unendurable. He came again, a week later. Still again he came, on the fifteenth day of August, repeating his tale of misery and appealing for aid for his wife. And then, having procured with great difficulty the information desired for the fictitious woman, Kitty Marion imparted the information. Her arrest followed -- on the nineteenth day of August.
Let it be said so plainly that none can misunderstand it--we have no apology to make for the act of Kitty Marion. We glory in her deed. It was born of a brave generosity, of an unfaltering determination to mitigate human suffering. It came from a heart consecrated to the freedom of woman--it was the fruit of a motive too fine, too holy for the understanding of a trapper of women.
Let it also be said that neither this arrest, nor those which have been made before, nor all the arrests that can be made, will for a moment deter us from this fight to which we have committed ourselves.
Agents provocateur may ply their obscene trade; misguided masculine-minded Puritans may oppress, the authorities may fill the jails with women, but this fight will go on. For every woman you jail, we will raise up ten for this struggle. Woman's right to control her own destiny is being established for all time and it is being establish by women, in and out of jail.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project