I Got An IUD and Nothing Bad Happened

At first glance, the Internet is littered with IUD stories. Comments in health forums, guides full of warnings and medical jargon, poems on Tumblr – when I was researching birth control options, I saw it all. But rather than finding information I could really use, I found horror stories and rumors that left me a little scared and very confused.

Recently, a friend asked about my experience with the IUD. She told me she had been unhappy on the Pill, and although she was grateful to have Plan B as an option when a hookup went awry, she knew she didn’t want to continue to leave her reproductive future up to a partner or a perfectly-timed birth control pill. So I decided to share my story.

I wanted an IUD in the first place because I wanted the freedom to have sex whenever I wanted and not get pregnant. I was also sick of my birth control pills, and after about a year of bad PMS and weight gain, I knew I had to make a change. But the combination of my insurance and what I could feasibly pay each month for birth control left me with few options. Plus the thought of taking a pill at the same time every day for the next ten years seemed really daunting.

I just want to have sex with my boyfriend and be protected from pregnancy and not feel terrible all the time! Is that too much to ask?

No. It’s really not.

So my primary care doctor suggested an IUD. An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a t-shaped piece of plastic connected to a very long plastic string. A health care provider inserts the IUD into a woman’s uterus, and hormonal IUDs release a small amount of progestin to prevent sperm from reaching an egg. (IUDs with copper do not contain hormones, but do the same job.)

Because I’m the type of person who would research what it’s like to watch paint dry, I began obsessively combing the Internet for in-depth coverage of IUDs. When I was able to find credible information, I realized an IUD was perfect for me.

IUDs are considered as effective as sterilization when it comes to preventing pregnancy. Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant within a year of using an IUD, and it’s easily reversible. They also last a long time – depending on which IUD is right for you, you can be protected from pregnancy for three to twelve years. Plus it’s usually covered by insurance, sometimes without a copay.

So I can have pregnancy protection for years, hardly pay a dime, and almost guarantee I won’t be pregnant?  

Yes, please!

Of course, IUDs don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections and there are still risks associated with the procedure. But as long as the insertion is done by an experienced health care professional, serious problems are rare.

An IUD seemed like it could change my life. But when I spoke to my friends and family, their reactions were less than stellar.

“Those things are really dangerous,” my friends said.

“Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” my mom asked. “I’ve heard terrible things about them.”

My mom and friends were very sure about the horror stories, but when I asked what they really knew about IUDs, they couldn’t tell me very much. Sadly, their reactions made sense. After all, the zeitgeist is rife with IUD nightmares, rumors, and out and out lies. Who could have told them otherwise?

Well, I am here to say, for anyone who wants to read it, I got an IUD and nothing bad happened.

That’s right. I am sitting here today with that tiny piece of t-shaped plastic in my uterus and I am doing just fine. In fact, I feel better than fine.


But at my first consultation appointment, I was sort of nervous. After all, when your mom warns you about something, you should probably listen. And when that thing is a foreign object full of hormones that is housed in your downtown, it seems you should really listen. But my gynecologist explained the risks, gave me reliable information, and sent me on my way. One month later, I showed up for my insertion.

After consulting with my doc, I chose to use Mirena, a hormonal IUD that works for up to five years. Once I’d signed some forms and assured my nurse I was not pregnant (some offices require a pregnancy test before insertion), I positioned myself on the exam table.

I glanced over at the instrument cart. The IUD came in a long, skinny box and it was prepackaged inside its insertion tube. The device itself was no bigger than a matchbook, and the insertion tube looked like a long, skinny drinking straw. There was a speculum, cleansers, some other shiny tools, a long skinny pair of scissors, and… lube? Yes, even gynos rely on the magic of KY to get the job done.

In order to insert the IUD, my cervix had to be relaxed. I had taken a prescription pill before my appointment that would help soften my uterine walls, and during the actual procedure, I kept myself calm and distracted by focusing on my breathing. My doctor talked me through each step, first inserting the speculum and cleansing my insides to prepare for the insertion. I felt a slight pressure and kept my breaths deep, low, and slow.

My doctor, who used an IUD herself, said the insertion would feel like intense period cramps.

Uh, yeah. She was right.

Though I had taken some Ibuprofen before my appointment, the insertion was just as odd and painful as everyone described. It felt like needles were poking an undisclosed place behind my belly button. Like my vagina was constipated or like a very long pap smear. I kept focusing on my breath as my eyes began to water, but before I knew it, my doctor was saying the insertion had gone well and all she had to do was cut the strings.

Two minutes of weirdness and I had an IUD!

I relaxed on the table, and my doctor told me about the next few steps of the IUD process. Because I wasn’t currently on my period, she said I should use backup contraception for the next seven days. She also said partners can sometimes feel the IUD strings during sex, but it usually doesn’t pose a large problem. Unless I experienced very serious pain, I wouldn’t need to return until my one month checkup. After that I would check the strings myself each month to make sure the IUD was still in place. The next few hours and days would be slightly painful with cramping, and I might see some bleeding or spotting. In fact, she said these symptoms could last three to six months.

To me, that seemed like a very long time, even though it’s similar to the adjustment period for birth control pills. After all, my uterus did just get a new, unannounced roommate. She was bound to need some time to adjust.

The nurse gave me some published information on Mirena, as well as a card that stated the date I received the IUD and the date I would need to have it replaced. I couldn’t believe I was looking at the year 2020 written there on my card. Five whole years, I thought. I am safe.

I left the office feeling relieved and incredibly proud. While the rest of my day was spent taking pain medicine and sleeping (my cramping wasn’t severe but it was pretty bad), I also tried to remember the magnitude of the occasion. A few office visits, one ultra-sound check up, my own monthly string check, and I’m set until 2020. That’s pretty damn cool.

My pain gradually subsided, and after a few days, my life returned to normal. The side effects that gave me so much trouble with the pill had almost completely disappeared. As my doctor had warned, my boyfriend could feel the IUD strings during sex, but it didn’t bother him; he knew what they were and knew they were protecting us from an unwanted pregnancy, so in his mind, who really cared? I made a good decision for myself and for my future and my confidence grew.

I was healthy and strong and I felt like an IUD-wielding badass! So, why did so many people tell me not to do it?

IUDs, though innovative and simple, are still a mystery to many people. From lawmakers and leaders to moms and friends, we just don’t seem to get it. Bad products in the 1970s and 1980s created widespread panic about the IUD in America, and while global use of the IUD has skyrocketed, Americans still seem hung up on decades old problems fueled by urban legend and propaganda.

While the copper IUD can act as emergency contraception, the IUD does not cause abortions. The IUD does not cause infertility. Women who have never been pregnant can use an IUD. These rumors are wrong, and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, odds are they are misinformed.

If you’re interested in learning more about IUDs but your health care provider doesn’t offer them for moral or religious reasons, find one that does. My primary care doctor, who had originally suggested the IUD, could not do my procedure because the religious hospital associated with her practice wouldn’t allow it. It made my journey to reproductive stability a little longer, but it did not deter me. I knew I deserved the care and protection that was best for me, so I kept looking.

The bottom line is IUDs work. They work well. We have seen the impact IUDs have on states and communities, and, perhaps even more importantly, I have seen the positive impact my IUD has had in my own life. While there are some side effects (pro: no period! con: doesn’t control acne), I feel confident, strong, and informed, and I’m ready to share my story.

So, listen up, Internet: I got an IUD and nothing bad happened.

Spread that rumor.



Do you have an IUD story to share? Hit us up below or on the socials @goodmillennial!

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Betty Friedan

March 30, 2015

Betty Friedan was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1921. She attended Smith College and spent time in New York as a reporter before marrying her husband in 1947.  After having her first child, Friedan found herself becoming restless at home. She wrote The Feminine Mystique, which became a huge hit. It is said to have created “a social revolution by dispelling the myth that all women wanted to be happy homemakers, and marking the start of what would become Friedan’s incredibly significant role in the women’s rights movement. The work is also credited with spurring second-wave feminism in the United States.” She co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966 and served as its first president. Friedan also helped found National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America) in 1969 and the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971.

For a woman who was expected to be ‘just a housewife’, Betty Friedan sure made her mark. Here is an excerpt from her groundbreaking book, The Feminine Mystique:

“The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — “Is this all?”

For over fifteen years there was no word of this yearning in the millions of words written about women, for women, in all the columns, books and articles by experts telling women their role was to seek fulfillment as wives and mothers. Over and over women heard in voices of tradition and of Freudian sophistication that they could desire no greater destiny than to glory in their own femininity. Experts told them how to catch a man and keep him, how to breastfeed children and handle their toilet training, how to cope with sibling rivalry and adolescent rebellion; how to buy a dishwasher, bake bread, cook gourmet snails, and build a swimming pool with their own hands; how to dress, look, and act more feminine and make marriage more exciting; how to keep their husbands from dying young and their sons from growing into delinquents.

If a woman had a problem in the 1950’s and 1960’s, she knew that something must be wrong with her marriage, or with herself. Other women were satisfied with their lives, she thought. What kind of a woman was she if she did not feel this mysterious fulfillment waxing the kitchen floor? She was so ashamed to admit her dissatisfaction that she never knew how many other women shared it. If she tried to tell her husband, he didn’t understand what she was talking about. She did not really understand it herself. …

If I am right, the problem that has no name stirring in the minds of so many American women today is not a matter of loss of femininity or too much education, or the demands of domesticity. It is far more important than anyone recognizes. It is the key to these other new and old problems which have been torturing women and their husbands and children, and puzzling their doctors and educators for years. It may well be the key to our future as a nation and a culture. We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: “I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.”


And here’s a letter to Friedan from 1963:

23 April 1963 Leicester, Mass.

“For the last few years, I have been on the “old housekeeping merry-go round.” …I cleaned and cleaned…and then I cleaned some more! All day—every day. My mother had returned to teaching school when I was twelve, and I had resented it, and consequently vowed that when I married and had children I would make it my vocation. I was quite convinced that I was very happy with my role in life as we had our own home and my husband is a good husband and father and a very sufficient provider. However, one night last November, all Hell broke loose in my psyche. I was sitting calmly reading when I became overwhelmed with waves of anxiety. I couldn’t imagine what was happening… I visited my family doctor. He put me on tranquilizers and diagnosed it as a mild state of anxiety. However there was no explanation…I chose security over everything else…I felt I had something about it…I now have a goal and no longer feel like a vegetable.”


Celebrating Women’s History Month: Margaret Sanger

March 24, 2015

“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.”

Margaret Sanger was a birth control and sex activist throughout the first half of the 20th century who helped legalize contraception in the United States.  She is also credited with creating the organizations that eventually became Planned Parenthood. Sanger believed that in order for women to lead safer, healthier lives and to regain their rights within a marriage and society, they first needed to have the right to decide when they could become mothers. She wished to protect women from unsafe abortions (since abortion was illegal), as well as from spousal abuse, poverty, and the dangers of intentional miscarriage. While she is sometimes criticized for her interest in eugenics, she still worked hand in hand with African American leaders to protect women in all communities. She was also a strong supporter of sexual expression and sexual freedom, believing that sex should be discussed with openness and candor.


Here are some of her most profound statements:

“Against the State, against the Church, against the silence of the medical profession, against the whole machinery of dead institutions of the past, the woman of today arises.”


“Woman must have her freedom, the fundamental freedom of choosing whether or not she will be a mother and how many children she will have. Regardless of what man’s attitude may be, that problem is hers — and before it can be his, it is hers alone. She goes through the vale of death alone, each time a babe is born. As it is the right neither of man nor the state to coerce her into this ordeal, so it is her right to decide whether she will endure it.”


“Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.”


“Eugenists imply or insist that a woman’s first duty is to the state; we contend that her duty to herself is her first duty to the state. We maintain that a woman possessing an adequate knowledge of her reproductive functions is the best judge of the time and conditions under which her child should be brought into the world. We further maintain that it is her right, regardless of all other considerations, to determine whether she shall bear children or not, and how many children she shall bear if she chooses to become a mother.”


For more on Margaret Sanger, check out some of these new books and their authors’ interviews on NPR’s Fresh Air!

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Celebrating Women’s History Month: Dolores Huerta

March 19, 2015

Dolores Huerta is 84 years old. In 1930 she was born in the mining town of Dawson, New Mexico. In 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work as a labor leader and activist, having spent her life working for immigrant rights, workers’ rights, and women’s rights. She was a very early member of the United Farm Workers and is a role model among the Latino community.

Here she is interviewed in 2011 when she was awarded the Medal of Freedom.


Below is a moving excerpt from a 2013 interview with Huerta from Frontline. Read the full interview here:

To somebody who knows nothing about the problems of sexual assault among female farmworkers, how did you become aware of it?

I became aware of it as a young woman, and my mother would never let me work in the fields. She would tell me, “You can work in the packing sheds,” and at first I didn’t know why.

And then when I actually did go out and work in the fields, then, like all of the other women, I saw the foreman coming and hovering around you. And of course that was something that made you very nervous, because you didn’t know if they were just looking at your work or if they were looking at you.

Then eventually talking to other farmworker women that were working out there, [I found out] that this was part of the job, so to speak, that you had to kind of be careful, because somebody in that field would come and try to invite you, or they would start looking at you, making these advances. And of course it was bothersome to a woman to know.

Many of the women, of course, that work out in the fields, they wear these bandanas, as you know, to keep the sun off their faces, but also it’s kind of a protection in many ways from trying to keep the foreman from looking at them.

You mean hide yourself?

It’s kind of a way of hiding yourself, right. So this has been one of those hazards of the job of being a farmworker, because the way that farmworker women are treated, they are looked at as sex objects, actually, when they are out there in the field.

Is this in your experience something that is tolerated by management? Is it part of the landscape?

One of the issues that you have with farmworkers generally is that the employers do not take direct responsibility for their workers. Over the years it’s become more of a common practice that employers will hire labor contractors. They outsource the work, so to speak.

And these labor contractors that they hire, many of them are former farmworkers themselves, and they’ve never been trained in human resources or human relations management, so the type of tactics that they use to manage their workers are pretty [far] back in the 19th century. What they use to manage their workers is fear: fear of losing your job.

Of course this then comes to [the surface] when a women is a victim of sexual advances. Then what she’s worried about is not only losing her job; she’s worried that her husband will lose his job, or her brother or her boyfriend or somebody in the family. It might even be a cousin, because many of these families work together. So the whole family can get fired if a woman complains that she’s being sexually harassed.

When you were starting the [United] Farm Workers union early on, was this a priority to deal with this issue?

It really wasn’t, I have to say, … except let me just say this: toilets. There were no toilets in the fields, so women literally, when they had to do their business, they would have to go together. They would have to get sheets or towels to cover themselves. There were no toilets.

… It did not become a national law until 1985 that farmworkers had to have toilets in the fields. Before that time, especially for women workers, it was extremely embarrassing for them, because you have some places where you had row crops — asparagus, tomatoes, daikon, lettuce, all of these types. There was no place that a woman could go to the bathroom. So this was part of it. This was demeaning [for] a farmworker generally but demeaning [for] the women in particular.

So the issue of sexual assault or violence at the workplace, that wasn’t something you could address if you didn’t even have a toilet yet.

That’s true. And I think at this point, when we started organizing  farmworkers, Cesar Chavez and myself, farmworkers were getting paid like 70 cents an hour, 70 cents to 90 cents an hour. I remember that Lyndon Johnson, as the head of the Senate, refused to pass a bill that gave farmworkers a minimum wage of 50 cents an hour.

So the big pressing issues were feeding the family. This is what people talked about: How do we earn enough money to feed our families? …

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Celebrate Women’s History Month: Susan B. Anthony

March 12, 2015

Susan B. Anthony was a revolutionary abolitionist, social reformer, and feminist who played a substantial role in the women’s suffrage movement. In what Time Magazine calls one of the top ten greatest speeches of all time, Susan B. Anthony’s passion and anger pours out through the page. She had just been fined $100 for casting an illegal ballot (“illegal” meaning she was a woman and therefore broke the law by voting) and she went out on a tour speaking about women’s rights. Time notes Anthony was fined in 1872 and the 19th amendment passed in 1920– Anthony never paid her fine.

Women’s Rights to Suffrage

by Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)


Friends and Fellow Citizens: I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but, instead, simply exercised my citizen’s rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any State to deny.

The preamble of the Federal Constitution says:

“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people–women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government–the ballot.

For any State to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people is to pass a bill of attainder, or an ex post facto law, and is therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are for ever withheld from women and their female posterity. To them this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the right govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters of every household–which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord and rebellion into every home of the nation.

Webster, Worcester and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office.

The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no State has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several States is today null and void, precisely as in every one against Negroes.



Susan B. Anthony’s speech appears as found here.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Bella Abzug

March 10, 2015

With a campaign slogan like “A woman’s place is in the house — the House of Representatives,” who wouldn’t elect Bella Abzug? Abzug was “born yelling” in New York City in 1920, and went on to become an influential player in the civil rights and women’s movements, a social activist, and a congressperson for the 20th district of New York in the US House of Representatives. She helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus, and was an avid advocate for peace and protest. She was a driven, exceptionally charismatic and passionate woman who stood her ground even when it signaled defeat.

Hear her speak here. The Jewish Women’s Archive also has a wonderful resource where you can hear longer speeches on the gender gap, feminism, and being a female lawyer during the McCarthy era, as well as read a more in depth history.

There is little video of Abzug in her prime, but watch her below as she recounts how she helped propose and pass legislation so women could apply and sign for their own credit cards. This was in 1974. Let me repeat, women were barred from applying for credit cards without their husbands’ permission up until 1974. While this seems a little infomercial-ish, her commitment to women’s liberties is clear. Plus, she just seems like a lady who gets shit done. And I love that.


Bella Abzug was an inspirational woman who founded countless organizations and conferences. She gave her final speech at the UN in 1999 and died shortly after. After listening to her speak, I wish we had about 10,000 of her in Congress today.





Celebrating Women’s History Month: Sojourner Truth

March 6, 2015

Born into slavery in New York, Sojourner Truth eventually escaped and went on to become a renowned abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She was the first black woman to win a child recovery case against a white man, and her most famous speech detailed below was given extemporaneously in Ohio in 1851.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?
Delivered 1851 – Women’s Rights Convention, Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.
Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.
(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Dorothea Dix

March 5, 2015

Dorothea Dix was a social reformer and lobbyist during the Civil War and Antebellum periods who fought for the rights of the poor and mentally ill. She began her teaching career at age 14 in Massachusetts, where she founded Dix Mansion, a school for girls, and a school where poor girls could attend free of charge. After teaching Sunday School in a local prison, Dix was exposed to the horrific conditions experienced by those in the criminal justice system, especially women with mental illness. She spent her life traveling and lobbying for state-funded hospitals, and her work had a direct effect on the creation of 32 United States institutions. She also served as the national Superintendent of Nurses during the Civil War.

Below is an excerpt from her Memorial to the Legislation of Massachusetts, in which she passionately lobbies for better care for female inmates, especially those who were found to be insane or otherwise affected. You can read more here, where she details the notes from her journals about the horrible conditions. This is a powerful and intellectual plea for human rights, so read the whole thing!


… About two years since leisure afforded opportunity, and duty prompted me to visit several prisons and alms-houses in the vicinity of this metropolis. I found, near Boston, in the Jails and Asylums for the poor, a numerous class brought into unsuitable connexion with criminals and the general mass of Paupers. I refer to Idiots and Insane persons, dwelling in circumstances not only adverse to their own physical and moral improvement, but productive of extreme disadvantages to all other persons brought into association with them. I applied myself diligently to trace the causes of these evils, and sought to supply remedies. As one obstacle was surmounted, fresh difficulties appeared. Every new investigation has been depth to the conviction that it is only by decided, prompt, and vigorous legislation the evils to which I refer, and which I shall proceed more fully to illustrate, can be remedied. I shall be obliged to speak with great plainness, and to reveal many things revolting to the taste, and from which my woman’s nature shrinks with peculiar sensitiveness. But truth is the highest consideration. I tell what I have seen—painful and as shocking as the details often are—that from them you may feel more deeply the imperative obligation which lies upon you to prevent the possibility of a repetition or continuance of such outrages upon humanity. If I inflict pain upon you, and move you to horror, it is to acquaint you with suffering which you have the power to alleviate, and make you hasten to the relief of the victims of legalized barbarity.

I come to present the strong claims of suffering humanity. I come to place before the Legislature of Massachusetts the condition of the miserable, the desolate, the outcast. I come as the advocate of helpless, forgotten, insane and idiotic men and women; of beings, sunk to a condition from which the most unconcerned would start with real horror; of beings wretched in our Prisons, and more wretched in our Alms-Houses. And I cannot suppose it needful to employ earnest persuasion, or stubborn argument, in order to arrest and fix attention upon a subject, only the more strongly pressing in its claims, because it is revolting and disgusting in its details.

I must confine myself to few examples, but am ready to furnish other and more complete details, if required. If my pictures are displeasing, coarse, and severe, my subjects, it must be recollected, offer no tranquil, refined, or composing features. The condition of human beings, reduced to the extremest states of degradation and misery, cannot be exhibited in softened language, or adorn a polished page.

I proceed, Gentlemen, briefly to call your attention to the present state of Insane Persons confined within this Commonwealth, in cages, closets, cellars, stalls, pens! Chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience!

As I state cold, severe facts, I feel obliged to refer to persons, and definitely to indicate localities. But it is upon my subject, not upon localities or individuals, I desire to fix attention; and I would speak as kindly as possible of all Wardens, Keepers, and other responsible officers, believing thatmost of these have erred not through hardness of heart and willful cruelty, so much as want of skill and knowledge, and want of consideration. Familiarity with suffering, it is said, blunts the sensibilities, and where neglect once finds a footing other injuries are multiplied. This is not all, for it may be justly and strongly be added that, from the deficiency of adequate means to meet the wants of these cases, it has been an absolute impossibility to do justice in this matter. Prisons are not constructed in view of being converted into County Hospitals, and AlmsHouses are not founded as receptacles for the Insane. And yet, in the face of justice and common sense, Wardens are by law compelled to receive, and Masters of Alms-House not to refuse, Insane and Idiotic subjects in all stages of mental disease and privation.

It is the Commonwealth, not its integral parts, that is accountable for most of the abuses which have lately, and do still exist. I repeat it, it is defective legislation which perpetuates and multiplies these abuses.

I have been asked if I have investigated the causes of insanity? I have not; but I have been told that this most calamitous overthrow of reason, often is the result of a life of sin; it is sometimes, but rarely, added, they must take the consequences; they deserve no better care! . . .

Could we in fancy place ourselves in the situation of some of these poor wretches, bereft of reason, deserted of friends, hopeless; troubles without, and more dreary troubles within, overwhelming the wreck of the mind as ‘a wide breaking in of the waters,’—how should we, as the terrible illusion was cast off, not only offer the thank-offering of prayer, that so mighty a destruction had not overwhelmed our mental nature, but as an offering more acceptable devote ourselves to alleviate that state from which we are so mercifully spared. . . .

Men of Massachusetts, I beg, I implore, I demand, pity and protection, for these of my suffering, outraged sex!—Fathers, Husbands, Brothers, I would supplicate you for this boon—but what do I say? I dishonor you, divest you at once of Christianity and humanity—does this appeal imply distrust. If it comes burthened with a doubt of your righteousness in this Legislation, then blot it out; while I declare confidence in your honor, not less than your humanity. Here you will put away the cold, calculating spirit of selfishness and self-seeking; lay off the armor of local strife and political opposition; here and now, for once, forgetful of the earthly and perishable, come up to these halls and consecrate them with one heart and one mind to works of righteousness and just guardians of the solemn rights you hold in trust. Raise up the fallen; succor the desolate; restore the outcast; defend the helpless; and for your eternal and great reward, receive the benediction . . . “Well done, good and faithful servants, become rulers over many things!”

Excerpted from Dix, Dorothea, Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts. Boston: Munroe & Francis, 1843.



Good Millennial Celebrates Women’s History Month

March 2, 2015

“In a world where there is so much to be done, I felt strongly impressed that there must be something for me to do.”

– Dorothea Dix, Social Reformer (1802-1887)


March is Women’s History Month, and there’s nothing Good Millennial loves more than celebrating super rad ladies and national month-long holidays. Over the course of this month, Good Millennial will be posting our favorite speeches and writings by the great women of our history who shape our culture, society, and world.

Want to celebrate Women’s History Month in style? Here are some of our brilliant ideas:

1. Read – There’s lots to read on the Internet when it comes to women’s history, like here at the National Women’s History Project. But we also love good old fashioned memoirs and biographies. We recommend To Believe In Women by Lillian Faderman if you want an interesting historical lens and Half The Sky by Kristof and WuDunn if you want a modern view. You can also pick out your fave female authors and read away! Some of our faves include Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, Not Your Average Girl by Lena Dunham, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt. For more biographies, check your favorite local bookstore or browse here.

2. Watch – Documentaries are everything to us at Good Millennial, but there are also some great films based on amazing true stories of women all over the world. You can’t go wrong with A League of their Own, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Norma Rae, Iron Jawed Angels, and of course the “Sister Suffragette” sequence in Mary Poppins. And as far as documentaries go, let’s see: The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, Gloria: In Her Own Words (rumor has it the upcoming biopic on Ms. Steinem is starring Marisa Tomei!), and Jane’s Journey about the life of Dr. Jane Goodall. More suggestions on great feminist documentaries can be found here.

3. Listen – Women have been making music since we could breathe and carry a tune, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t celebrate Women’s History Month with all the women who made a name for themselves in music. We know and love ladies like Carole King, Julie Andrews, Janis Ian, Grace Slick, Patsy Cline, Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald… but what about Francesca Caccini, the first woman known to write a full opera? Or the piano prodigy Teresa Carreno? A great timeline of women in music history can be found at Oxford Music Online. Plus don’t forget about radio and podcasts! Girl On Guy with Aisha Tyler, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Serial, and The Thrilling Adventure Hour are just some of the amazing listening experiences you can get from great women.

4. Learn – There is no better way to use history than to learn from it, and lucky for us, we exist in the Age of Information! The Library Of Congress has wonderful resources for teachers and students alike. There’s WomensHistoryMonth.gov, as well as great resources like the National Museum for Women’s History. It also never hurts to crack open a good ol’ book now and then, as there are SO MANY GREAT ONES on women and women’s history. Learning from our past can let us see how far we have come and how far we must go– for ourselves, for our children, and for the many incredible women who have come before us.

5. Share – It never hurts to share your bounty of knowledge with others, and the lessons of history thrive on being passed down — from friend to friend or generation to generation. They may already be experts on women’s history or they may need a lesson or two (call your Congresspeople is what I’m saying), but either way, knowledge is power. Call your grandmother or mother or role model and ask them about their favorite historical woman. Ask about their experience with feminism or discrimination in the work place. Thank them for being the amazing women they are and for encouraging us to be even better.

Good Millennial will be honoring women’s history all through the month of March! We hope the  stories of the amazing women of history inspire you just as much as they inspire us.