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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Votes for Women - Oh No!

Celebrating the proclamation of the 19th Amendment, 1920
Today marks the 90th anniversary of the day the 19th Amendment was ratified - by vote of the Tennessee Legislature - giving all women in the United States the right to vote.

The history of the woman suffrage movement is a long and fascinating one, which you would do well to read up on sometime if you're not familiar with it.  There are many parallels to the continuing struggle for LGBT equality that we are living through right now. 

To mark the occasion - and to show you that the more things change, the more they stay the same - and that every advance of freedom and equality in this country has always been met with the cry that it will destroy the nation - Armageddon is just around the corner - here's a short visual history of the opposing attitude.  Which ought to sound real fucking familiar.

OMG!  The home in danger!  The traditional family will disappear.  Business will collapse, too.  And all those men who will be put out of work . . .

Continued after the jump . . .

Notice the ingenious arguments used by the anti-suffrage folks below:  women can't be considered disenfranchised because . . . they never were franchised in the first place.  Which is just playing with words, avoiding the actual substance of the case (click to enlarge, of course):



Note the last point:  "Government is MAN'S work.  Voting is a part of the machinery of government."  Therefore, women have no business voting.  Q. E. D.
Save the South!  A frequently stated fear in Dixie was that extending the vote to women would "double the irresponsible [or ignorant] vote" by giving "colored women" the right to vote too.  Which, as was also frequently and forthrightly stated, would bring about, horrors, the end of white supremacy - which God knows, would mean the end of the world.  A merely theoretical fear, of course:  neither black men nor black women were allowed to vote in most Southern states - but reality never gets in the way of hysteria, does it, boys?

The Ryman was later the home of the Grand Old Opry - as everybody knows.  In the flyer below, notice the insistence on upholding "the rights of the people" - as if women were not part of "the people," too.  As well as leaning on heavily on the Constitution . . . the parts they liked, anyway.

Notice that supporters of women's right to vote are lumped in here with bootleggers and bolshevists (=communists).  Guilt by association, always a sure sign of rhetorical manipulation.  As also seen in the following handout decrying the "Susan B. Anthony Amendment," which is a little hard to read even at full magnification, but which declares ominously that "Bolsheviks, Reds, I. W. W.'s, Mormons, Socialists, are all for are for Woman Suffrage, hoping to weaken our government by feminism and petticoated politicians, that its fall may be easy" - as the menacing "Foreign Radical" lurking underground with bomb in hand makes clear:

The gist here being:  Extending equality and civil rights is just playing into the hands of our enemies, the people who want to destroy us and the American way of life . . . now where have you heard that before?  A strange thing to say in the land of the free and the home of the brave, but it has been a very frequent refrain all down through our history, as these examples show.

Notice also the use of the "oooooh, we must protect the children!" plea:  "Will you take from them their right to live under a white man's government, the best for all races . . . ?"  It begins with that, and ends with, "Reject the Susan and save the children" - which is one of two or three rhetorical trump cards - playing on the emotions - that people always fall back on when they can't carry their arguments by reason and facts alone.  Sound familiar?  Can you say Prop 8?

Besides, women, "thousands and thousands of them," really don't want that nasty old vote anyway; nice ladies - not the vulgar kind who make speeches in the streets - are happy to leave it to the men, because a woman's place is in the home:


And if a woman doesn't stay home, oh my!  Just think how awful the consequences would be - as shown below.  Once again, pleeeeease oh please think of the poor little children!  Mother left a note on the wall saying casually, "Back some time this evening," having left the two little girls home alone and unfed, no supper on the table.  Political equality = bad mother.  How could an emancipated woman be anything else?


Of course, one of the very greatest dangers of the whole votes-for-women movement was that if women succeeded in gaining political power, guess what?  Men would lose their masculinity!  Yup.  Automatically, sure as shootin' - if women take men's place, men will fall into women's role.  Which of course will destroy the traditional family! 

This theme was repeated over and over again, with many newspaper cartoons showing "visions of the future" in which a haggard, browbeaten man in a frilly apron is stirring the stew or holding a squawling baby when the butch-looking wife, wearing masculine garb and puffing on a stogie, arrives home at the end of the workday.  This flyer takes a barnyard look at the same fear:

"Woman suffrage denatures both men and women; it masculinizes women and feminizes men."

In other words, equality = castration.  (Calling Dr. Freud . . . .)  "With the collapse of the male ascendancy in this country, we can look forward to a nation of degradation. . . .  The effect of the social revolution on the American character will be to make 'sissies' of American men. . . .  The history of ancient civilization has proven that a weakening of the man power of nations has been but a pre-runner of decadence in civilization."  [Emphasis mine.]  Golly - and you wondered where Sally Kern got her talking points?

And have another hit of deja vu:  how about a Democratic President whose party platform firmly supports the issue, but who himself waffles and hems and haws, and won't come out supporting it with his powerful oratory and the moral authority of his high office?  Well, boys - like your Bible tells you, there ain't a damn thing new under the sun:


"I am tied to a conviction . . . that changes of this sort ought to be brought about state by state."  President Wilson, 1916.


"The President does oppose same-sex marriage, but he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples. . . .  Marriage is best left to the states to decide."  --David Axelrod, White House advisor, August 12, 2010.

WTF?

3 comments:

dave said...

Another fine post, Russ. - Save the Children!

FDeF said...

Great history lesson. Yeah, not much has changed. The voice of reason still gets shouted over by ignorant folk. But eventually they go down...still kicking and screaming.

Russ Manley said...

Thanks guys, glad you liked.

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