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

TitleBuilding a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from the Turn of the Century to the Baby Boom
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsKline, Wendy
Number of Pages218
PublisherUniversity of California Press
CityBerkeley
Abstract

This cultural history of eugenics in America emphasizes the movement's central, continuing interaction with popular notions of gender and morality. The author shows how eugenics could seem a viable solution to problems of moral disorder and sexuality, especially female sexuality, during the first half of the twentieth century. Its appeal to social conscience and shared desires to strengthen the family and civilization sparked widespread public as well as scientific interest. This account reflects the shift from "negative eugenics" (preventing procreation of the "unfit") to "positive eugenics," which encouraged procreation of the "fit," and it reveals that the "golden age" of eugenics actually occurred long after most historians claim the movement had vanished. The middle-class "passion for parenthood" in the '50s had its roots, the author finds, in the positive eugenics campaign of the '30s and '40s. Many issues that originated in the eugenics movement remain controversial today, such as the use of IQ testing, the medical ethics of sterilization, the moral and legal implications of cloning and genetic screening, and even the debate on family values of the 1990s. This volume not only places eugenics at the center of modern reevaluations of female sexuality and morality but also acknowledges eugenics as an essential aspect of major social and cultural movements in the twentieth century.

URLhttps://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520246744/building-a-better-race
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55889694

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