Study Guide

Ruth Hale in The Children's Era

By Margaret Sanger

Ruth Hale

If you are—or if you know—a woman whose attitude is "Um, I have a perfectly good name. Why would I change it after I get married? That's just weird"…then you should probably know about Ruth Hale.

Like Margaret Sanger, Ruth Hale spoke at the Sixth International Neo-Malthusian and Birth Control Conference. She had dedicated most of her life to women's issues while working as a journalist in New York and in Europe during World War I.

When she married fellow journalist Heywood Broun in 1917, he wanted children but she told him he'd have to be okay with only one. Broun was one of the most famous journalists of the early 20th century, and it really bugged Hale that he tended to get more recognition than she did. Even Broun, a supporter of her causes, recognized that she was probably a better journalist than he was and that people ignored her because she was a woman.

One of Broun's biographers wrote,

She must have been the least coy, the least subtle female ever to emerge from the ranks of Southern womanhood. She laid it all on the line, take it or leave it. She challenged, questioned, hammered away at every preconception, particularly those affecting the male attitude toward her sex. (Source)

Many of Hale's concerns had to do with women retaining their individual identities after marriage. She refused to be known as "Mrs. Heywood Broun" and founded and served as president of the Lucy Stone League, an organization dedicated to helping women keep their last names and other symbols of individuality after marriage.

Oddly, near the end of her life she declared,

After forty a woman is through. I am going to make myself die. (Source)

For someone who so publicly advocated for women's rights, it was, to put it mildly, a weird thing to say.

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