Women’s History Month – Day 2 of 31

Suffrage – Post 1 of 3

In undergrad, I had this amazing history professor. Her research focus was western Europe and she would sit on a table in front of a room of 80 people and tell stories for 70 minutes straight. She was amazing. She was what a history professor *should* be like. She spoke of law and government, she told us facts and dates, but the only used those as a framework to talk about the people’s history – the effects of the Industrial Revolution on a micro scale, the names of people who have been omitted from our History textbooks. In high school I learned what everyone else learned about Suffrage in high school. 1919/1920, 19th Amendment, ladies won the right to vote, they wore hats and gloves. What I didn’t learn was how the US movement was born of that of the Suffragists in Britain. What I didn’t learn was that women were beaten and jailed. What I didn’t learn was that women were force fed and had their teeth broken our of their jaws. I had the opportunity to learn this in college, but most people didn’t.

I’m going to focus the rest of the week on Suffrage, and I’m going to start today with one of my favorite things in all of history – suffrage-era cartoons.

One of the key arguments against Suffrage was that women should be spending their time doing other things – and those things were taking care of their husbands and children. With women entering into the public sphere, anti-suffrage advocates warned of a complete breakdown of the domestic sphere with children neglected and men, *gasp* having to take care of their own children.

Others felt that women simply did not have the intellect to be involved in politics. One pro-suffrage cartoon claims that it’s not women’s intellectual capability that has made them appear frivolous, it is their restriction to a life focused solely on the domestic sphere.

A third tactic is just the tried-and-true smear campaign. Suffragists are fat, ugly, and not real women. Clearly, they’ve run out of things to say.


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