Those dirty ads! Birth control advertising in the 1920s and 1930s

Birth control advertising proliferated in the 1920s and 1930s even though a federal obscenity law considered contraception and contraceptive advertising illegal. This article examines how the illegal advertisements conflicted with the arguments for birth control legalization. Specifically, the article applies Michel Bakhtin's grotesque and classical categories and Mary Douglas's pollution metaphors to analyze the language birth control advocates used to distinguish between medical and nonmedical birth control advertising and to construct birth control as scientific.