On Sunday, Janaury 22nd, the Politics for the People book club spent an hour talking with Ellen Feldman about her book, Terrible Virtue which is a fictional biography of Margaret Sanger. I am sharing a few highlights of our conversation below and you can listen to the entire recording at the end of this post.
(Note: if the audio links do not appear in the email version of this post, just click on the email to come to the blog.)
Our first audio clip includes my introduction of Ellen, a look at what drew her to the story of Margaret Sanger, a discussion of the controversy surrounding Margaret’s pioneering activism, and discussion of the increased scrutiny Ellen came under when news of her novel’s movie deal went public. Take a listen:
In this next clip Dr. Jessie Fields shares her fascination with the ways by which we access history. Why is it that Ellen chose this format, a fictional novel that is firmly routed in fact, to explore the inner workings of a historical figure like Margaret Sanger? Here Ellen’s explanation below:
Independent activist Richard Ronner juxtaposed his impressions from the novel that “to be a visionary or make profound change, to be driven in such a way as to spend all of one’s life doing it, is ultimately a lonely and isolating experience” with his own experiences, sharing that what allows him to remain engaged and active is being part of building community. Give a listen:
Kerry Malloy, an actor and member of the IndependentVoting.org national team, asked Ellen to talk about the experience of selling the rights to the novel to a become a movie. Give a listen to their exchange:
Juliette Leak spoke with Ellen about the history of contraception being illegal in the US in the clip below:
Attorney and Independent activist Harry Kresky touched on the ferocity of opposition to contraception, and how long it took for it to be legal for anybody. Was that a religious issue or was that the result of American puritanical attitudes towards sex? Ellen thinks it is both:
Activist and P4P member Juliana Francisco struggled to understand why margaret got married – more than once no less – given her apparent aversion to the institution, and was intrigued by Sanger’s relationship to the suffragettes at the time. In giving voice to suffragette opposition to Sanger and her outspoken approach to female sexuality, Ellen said they wanted to avoid being painted as morally questionable, “we don’t want to dirty our skirts with that, the vote is all that counts.” You can listen to their exchange here:
As we neared the end of the call I asked Ellen to touch on Sanger’s relationship with the African American community, as we talked about her work with under represented female communities.
You can listen to the entirety of our fascinating call with Ellen Feldman below. It was a timely treat to explore Margaret Sanger’s life and work with all of you.
Celebrate National Poetry Month with Politics for the People
We will be hosting a lively exchange of our favorite political poems and some original poetry by our members as well.
The True Story Behind The Secret Plan To Steal America’s Democracy
By David Daley.
We will be kicking off this selection in April and our conference call with the author will be on Sunday, June 4th at 7 pm EST.