Granted, it’s Monday morning, but still. I was doing some class prep this morning after an early meeting, and I ran across a piece called “An Anti-Suffrage Monologue,” by a woman I’ve never heard of before: Marie Jenney Howe, who was among other things a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and who wrote and performed the piece to spoof the wackadoodle arguments of anti-suffrage proponents.
Suffrage documents are pretty nifty, regardless, but I found this one extra-cool, because its funny in a way that feels contemporary, and so clearly drives home that the arguments against women’s rights have always been
1) the same damn thing, over and over, and
2) stupid. See also 1.
Here’s my favorite part (it’s a bit long, but totally worth it):
I know you begin to see how strongly I feel on this subject, but I have some reasons as well. These reasons are based on logic. Of course I am not logical. I am a creature of impulse, instinct, and intuition—and I glory in it. But I know that these reasons are based on logic because I have culled them from the men whom it is my privilege to know.
My first argument against suffrage is that the women would not use it if they had it. You couldn’t drive them to the polls. My second argument is, if the women were enfranchised they would neglect their homes, desert their families, and spend all their time at the polls. You may tell me that the polls are only open once a year. But I know women. They are creatures of habit. If you let them go to the polls once a year, they will hang round the polls all the rest of the time.
I have arranged these arguments in couplets. They go together in such a way that if you don’t like one you can take the other. This is my second anti-suffrage couplet. If the women were enfranchised they would vote exactly as their husbands do and only double the existing vote. Do you like that argument? If not, take this one. If the women were enfranchised they would vote against their own husbands, thus creating dissension, family quarrels, and divorce.
My third anti-suffrage couplet is—women are angels. Many men call me an angel and I have a strong instinct which tells me it is true; that is why I am anti, because “I want to be an angel and with the angels stand.” And if you don’t like that argument take this one. Women are depraved. They would introduce into politics a vicious element which would ruin our national life.
Fourth anti-suffrage couplet: women cannot understand politics. Therefore there would be no use in giving women political power, because they would not know what to do with it. On the other hand, if the women were enfranchised, they would mount rapidly into power, take all the offices from all the men, and soon we would have women governors of all our states and dozens of women acting as President of the United States.
Fifth anti-suffrage couplet: women cannot band together. They are incapable of organization. No two women can even be friends. Women are cats. On the other hand, if women were enfranchised, we would have all the women banded together on one side and all the men banded together on the other side, and there would follow a sex war which might end in bloody revolution.
Just one more of my little couplets: the ballot is greatly over-estimated. It has never done anything for anybody. Lots of men tell me this. And the corresponding argument is—the ballot is what makes man man. It is what gives him all his dignity and all of his superiority to women. Therefore if we allow women to share this privilege, how could a woman look up to her own husband? Why, there would be nothing to look up to.
I have talked to many woman suffragists and I find them very unreasonable. I say to them: “Here I am, convince me.” I ask for proof. Then they proceed to tell me of Australia and Colorado and other places where women have passed excellent laws to improve the condition of working women and children. But I say, “What of it?” These are facts. I don’t care about facts. I ask for proof.
Amazing. Amazing! You lucky devils, you can read the whole thing here.