Friday, November 2, 2012

Women are Children: Don't Let Them Vote

by Stephen J. Gertz

"The Militant" by G.T. (?), c. 1910-1912.

This political cartoon, in ink and watercolor, was likely inspired by and in sympathy with the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League (1908-1918) which opposed granting women the vote in Parliamentary elections within the United Kingdom.

The same sort of battle against women's suffrage was occurring simultaneously in the United States, ongoing since the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 proclaimed voting rights for women.

Here, a little girl is arrested by two bemused policemen. She's in tears holding a can of oil, the prime suspect of arson to the house ablaze at right in the background.  On the house's fence the girl has chalked the demand, "Voats fer Wimmen."

The message is clear: English domestic life is threatened by immature women demanding the vote. Militants are particularly irresponsible and dangerous; the whole of society will go up in flames if women stuff the ballot box with their foolishness. A more condescending view of the issue is difficult to imagine. It was not, however, unusual. Casting women suffragettes as little children was a standard weapon in the anti-suffragette arsenal.

In the United States, a similar anti-suffragette theme was expressed at the very same time by Ten Little Suffragettes, a scarce eleven-page comic based upon the folk-song, Ten Little Indians. Ten little girls in pinafores carry protest signs supporting women's suffrage but are undone by their pre-pubescent behavior until only one remains and, petulant, she breaks her doll's head.

That women are children and incapable of making informed decisions about things they care about is a sentiment that remains amongst many to this day. Why should adults cede power to emotionally labile kids?

Particularly female children who are now increasingly dominating college enrollment, often out-earning their husbands and boyfriends, and are members of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Cabinet.

Next thing you know, there'll be a female President of the United States. Somehow, the United States will survive - though a segment of the male voting population may feel their manhood whither and retract into their gut to disappear with their last vestige of superiority in everything except, perhaps, the ability to fix a toaster - a skill that many men have yet to master, this writer included whose grand philosophy regarding broken small household appliances boils down to, Buy a new one.

[ANTI-SUFFRAGETTE ORIGINAL CARTOON]. G.T. [?]. The Militant. [London?]: c. 1910-1912. 39 x 35 cm original ink and watercolor drawing.

Image courtesy of John Drury Rare Books, currently offering this item, with our thanks.

Of related interest:

Ten Little, Nine Little, Eight Little Suffragettes...(And Then There Were None).

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