Collateral Damage: From Margaret Sanger to RapeLay in Two Easy Steps
In 2006, Illusion software released a 3D game called RapeLay, which casts the player into the role of a Japanese sex maniac. Players advance by raping women but get penalized if the baby lives. “If she does become pregnant you’re supposed to force her to get an abortion,” one reviewer revealed.
This is entertainment? I suppose you could call this a kind of Sex and the City, but something about it just doesn’t sit right. Margaret Sanger might not recognize it as such, but RapeLay is her life’s work come to fruition, albeit in the extreme.
Born in 1879, the feminist activist, atheist, and daughter of a socialist devoted her life to promoting birth control. An indefatigable advocate of “free love” (the 19th century euphemism for a lifestyle of sex with no moral restraint or obligation – more aptly called “free sex”), Sanger launched the American Birth Control League in 1921, which in 1942 became Planned Parenthood. The largest abortion provider in the world, Planned Parenthood still pursues Sanger’s mission by expanding sex education and eliminating physical by-products. “Our goal,” one staffer wrote, “is to be ready as educators and parents to help young people obtain sex satisfaction before marriage.”
Sanger died in 1966, just as her movement began to mushroom. In 1962, Helen Gurley Brown penned Sex and the Single Girl, chronicling her bachelorette days and tellinggirls they didn’t have to marry but that they could have lots of free sex and find liberation. It became a national sensation, and Brown was hired as editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. She brought her Sex and the Single Girl values to Cosmopolitan, which had until then covered fashion and homemaking, and over her thirty year tenure, Cosmopolitan became the best-selling women’s magazine in the world. So influential is Cosmopolitan that today’s “liberated” woman is often referred to as a Cosmo Girl.
But what kind of progress is this? Is a Cosmo Girl really liberated, or does the free sex ethos merely condition her to be a more alluring toy so she’ll get played with?
In 1936, when Sanger was a grandmother and Brown a mere teen, a courageous college student exposed the inversion of their form of feminism. “I never thought much about being a girl until two years ago when I learned from a man what a wonderful thing it is to be a woman,” Catherine Wood addressed a raucous youth gathering.
“The emancipation of woman really began with Christianity. Since Jesus, woman was revered, protected, and loved. Men wanted to think of her as different from themselves, better. It remained for the 20th century, the century of progress, to pull her down from the throne. She wanted equality. For 1900 years, she had not been equal. She had been superior. To stand equal with men, naturally she had to step down. Now being equal with men, she has won all their rights and privileges. The right to get drunk, the right to swear, the right to smoke.”
The right to be hunted, raped, and violated as video entertainment. Okay, Catherine didn’t say that. RapeLay was still seven decades away. But why not if that’s how some obtain their sex satisfaction? Who’s to say anything’s wrong if sex should be free of moral restraint and consequence?
Catherine was no frigid prude. She married that year and hinted in later writings that she enjoyed an active and very satisfying sex life. Within the bounds of marriage, commitment, and responsibility.
I’ll take that over RapeLay any day.
This article first appeared in Salvo 9, Summer 2009.