Working-class nurse. Mother of three. Labor organizer. Margaret Sanger — best known as the pioneer of birth control — was revolutionary in more ways than one. In Sabrina Jones’s graphic novel Our Lady of Birth Control, the author illustrates the incredible life of Margaret Sanger (1879–1966), framing the biography with her personal experiences of coming of age at the height of the sexual revolution.
During her lifetime, Sanger transformed herself from working-class nurse to an exuberant free-lover and savvy manipulator of the media, the law, and her wealthy supporters. Through direct action, propaganda, exile, and imprisonment, she ultimately succeeded in bringing legal access to birth control to women of all classes. Sanger’s revolutionary actions established organizations that eventually evolved into Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Sabrina Jones’s autobiographical sections of Our Lady of Birth Control show her journey into activist art in response to the anti-feminist backlash of the Reagan era. From street theater and protest graphics to alternative comics, her path similarly follows in Margaret’s footsteps, encountering versions of the same adversaries. Her striking imagery evokes the late 20th century, recalling the ashcan artists of “The Masses,” acclaimed magazine of Sanger’s formative years.
Powerful, poetic, and extremely personal, this historical graphic novel is an in-depth look at the woman responsible for bringing freedom to the masses, men and women alike.
Far beyond a history of birth control, this graphic novel weaves together a century of radical activism with the author’s personal experiences. Beautifully and violently intertwined in this volume are the political, sexual, and artistic revolutions which continue to shape our day-to-day lives.
Our Lady of Birth Control returns Margaret Sanger to her rightful place in the history of women’s, and therefore humanity’s, liberation, with depth and a brutal intensity that does not let up. The timing couldn’t be more perfect for this extraordinary book.
Sabrina Jones’ Our Lady of Birth Control is a heartfelt homage to the birth control advocate who helped us all gain, as Sanger said, ‘the right to love without fear.’ Jones deftly intertwines the past and present of women’s reproductive rights, traces the history of contraception, and follows Sanger’s personal history with fluid, freewheeling drawings and clear, concise text. Showing us the brutality of the past when women were kept ignorant and bound to a life of servitude, Jones put in perspective the threats on our freedom today.
Graphic novels have a way of making problems present in a way that simple paragraphs cannot. Margaret Sanger had her clinic, Jones has her paintbrush, but they share the same mission: freedom to live and to love.
In her new graphic novel, Our Lady of Birth Control artist Sabrina Jones pulls back the curtain and beckons readers into the heart of Sanger’s story in an effort to humanize the woman behind the movement. Her bold, stark drawing style accentuates Sanger’s own boldness and brazen, joyous lack of delicacy. . . I’d rank Our Lady of Birth Control up there with Kate Evans’ Red Rosa as one of 2016’s most crucial politically-charged graphic novels, and I recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in the women’s rights movement.
Our Lady of Birth Control: A Cartoonist’s Encounter with Margaret Sanger blends a biography of the pioneering activist and sex educator with Jones’s own coming of age during the sexual revolution to create a work that manages to be both informative and incredibly personal.