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Lois Waisbrooker (1826–1909)

Author of A Sex Revolution

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Lois Waisbrooker was born Adeline Eliza Nichols in upstate New York. She grew up in poverty there and in Ohio and had little formal education. Events in her life that began when she was 17, including unplanned pregnancy and unhappy marriage, inspired her dedication to feminism. By 1863, she had adopted the name Lois Waisbrooker, and had become a spiritualist, an anarchist, and a women's rights advocate, particularly known for her controversial views on free love and women's sexual servitude in marriage. She gave lectures and wrote novels, articles, and pamphlets. Her novels included Helen Harlow's Vow (1890) and A Sex Revolution (1893). In 1894, she was arrested and jailed under the Comstock Act for publishing obscenity as the editor of the radical weekly journal Lucifer, The Light-Bearer. The trial took two years but eventually the case (U.S. v. Waisbrooker) was dismissed. In 1901, in the federal effort against anarchists after President McKinley's assassination, Lois Waisbrooker was again charged with obscenity -- this time she was found guilty and fined $100. In her last article, published posthumously, she wrote, "Woman has a natural, an inherent right to herself, a right which church and state refuse to allow her to exercise; but the time is coming when she will take that right and refuse to be crushed."
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