When Women Couldn’t Vote

Monday was the 100th anniversary of the last time Congress voted to deny women the right to vote. Rebecca Ruiz has an article looking at the debate that took place in the House that day and some of the rhetoric will no doubt sound quite familiar. We still hear its echoes today.

On that day suffragists lined the galleries as a 10-hour debate in the House of Representatives unfolded, according to an account in The New York Times. Opponents stood firmly on the dark side of history, making claims about a woman’s role that would end a politician’s career today.

“Mr. Speaker, I am opposed to woman suffrage, but I am not opposed to woman,” said Rep. Edwin Y. Webb, a North Carolina Democrat. “I am unwilling, as a southern man, to force upon her any burden which will distract this loving potentate from her sacred, God-imposed duties. I am unwilling to force her into the vortex of politics, where her sensitiveness and her modesty will often be offended.”

Some Congressmen were less tactful. “The women of this smart Capital are beautiful,” said Ohio Democrat Rep. Stanley Bowdle, “indeed, their beauty is positively disturbing to business, but they are not interested in politics…” Bowdle, whose “lovely, loyal wife” and “beautiful, devoted sister” had pleaded the case for suffrage, conducted his own social experiment to reach this judgment. He counted the number of women he observed reading newspapers on street cars over several days and found the number lacking.

“It is thus evident that women generally are not interested in politics — for which the saints be forever praised — for I do not like to think of the day when papa’s purse will be called upon to contribute to two opposing wigwams,” he said. “One is plenty.”…

Opponents of suffrage felt that a woman’s patriotic contribution should be limited to her role as a groomer of sons.

“I still adhere to the old-fashioned belief that the hand that rocks the cradle wields a better and a stronger influence upon the Nation than the hand that writes the ballot,” said Texas Democratic Congressman Martin Dies. “A nation that has good mothers to mold the boys will never want for good men to make the ballots.”

More quotes from the debate:

“Women; have they a mission? Yes; it is to rule in the world of love and affection—in the home. It is not to rule in the State. They have a function to perform which precludes the latter sort of rule. Man is king of this universe; woman is queen. The queen rules when the king is dead, or becomes a mollycoddle, and the American man is not that yet.” [Applause] — REP. STANLEY BOWDLE (D-OHIO), JAN. 12, 1915

Were it not for shattering an ideal, were it not for dethroning her from that high pedestal upon which we are accustomed to place her, and dragging her down to the level of us beastly men, I believe I might even today be willing to vote for universal woman suffrage. — REP. CHARLES CARTER (D-OKLA.), JAN. 12, 1915

The great cry is that woman should be allowed to vote in order to protect themselves. Against what? Do men oppress them? Do we act toward them as though they were not American citizens or entitled to the protection of our laws? On the contrary, we show them every consideration, provide for their safety, and protect their interest always and everywhere. If, therefore, they could vote, they could not improve their condition, but might place themselves in a position that men would not be as tolerant and patient and chivalrous toward them as they are now. — REP. WILLIAM MULKEY, (D-ALA.), JAN. 12, 1915

The sad and pathetic thing is that there are men today, like Jesse Lee Peterson and Vox Day (Theodore Beale) who still make these same arguments and still want to deny women the right to vote. I would call them scum, but that would be an insult to scum.

And that first quote, saying he’s against letting women vote but is not anti-woman, sounds particularly familiar. How often do we hear that today?

“I want to deny gays the right to get married, but I’m not anti-gay.”

“I want to prevent women from controlling their own lives and reproduction, but I’m not anti-woman.”

Yes you are, actually.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • http://www.facebook.com/eo.raptor.3 eoraptor

    “Were it not for shattering an ideal, were it not for dethroning her from that high pedestal upon which we are accustomed to place her, and dragging her down to the level of us beastly men…”

    I’ll say one thing, it’s good to know that some of the Congress-creatures back then recognized what scum they were.

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    Ed, are you sure women deserve to vote?

  • eric

    Its interesting to see the quotes (pro and con) come from both sides of the political aisle. If there was a debate today on the floor about SSM, I’m sure there would be some congresscritters who crossed lines in both diections when it came to voting…but I doubt they’d speak in the debate. Dissenting with party leadership that blatantly is not something they tolerate as much as they used to, I think.

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    I honestly think we need a civic intelligence test before you’re allowed to vote.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Perhaps FtB should institute intelligence tests before allowing comments.

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    Or an honesty test. Nice try, you fucking asshole.

  • colnago80

    Re Pedersen @ #6

    Israel basher Pedersen is talking about himself.

  • thecalmone

    FWIW, Australia granted women the right to vote in federal elections in 1902.

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    If you men can’t understand that women fundamentally are controlled by their feelings. Then we won’t make any progress.

  • eric

    I honestly think we need a civic intelligence test before you’re allowed to vote.

    Okay, here it is.

    1. The right to vote is based on what fundamental political principle?

    (a) Smart and well educated people will make better decisions

    (b) All citizens deserve a voice in the government that rules them

    What’s your answer? If you answer wrong, no voting for you.

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    Women report false rapes as revenge for affairs.

    They simply don’t understand how serious an allegation it is.

    And nor do PZ Myers.

  • abb3w

    Perhaps in honor of the anniversary, there’s a new Pew survey report out.

  • John Pieret

    If you men can’t understand that women fundamentally are controlled by their feelings. Then we won’t make any progress.

    Progress is you expressing your feeling that women are fundamentally controlled by their feelings?

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    What feeling?

    It’s a fact.

  • John Pieret

    It’s a fact.

    Oh, good. Then you can give us empiric scientific evidence for it … and that men aren’t also fundamentally controlled by their feelings … instead of just asserting it.

  • Childermass
  • tfkreference

    The other institution that uses these arguments is the Catholic church on the topic of women in the priesthood.

  • tvoyumat

    LOL MRAs huh?

    I needed a good laugh, maybe Jesper can tell us how to PUA, and tell us his 12 incher gets him all of the 9s & 10s.

    Seriously, Jesper, you are a living example of life after brainlessness.

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    The Pope is weak.

    He’s afraid of women.

  • Childermass

    “The other institution that uses these arguments is the Catholic church on the topic of women in the priesthood.”

    I think we can name a few other churches that do as well. Not to mention some verses in the Bible that are falsely claimed to be written by Paul.

  • zenlike

    Jesper Both Pedersen,

    You are a bigoted piece of shit, no better then the people quoted in he OP.

    Maybe you should use facts instead of your feelings. And just stating your worthless opinion is ‘fact’ doesn’t make it so.

    Now begone, MRA troll.

  • scienceavenger

    Poe, surely.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    He’s got a point. Do women deserve to vote? Do they vote well? With their emotions, can they even vote well? I mean, look how they react when we talk, even off-handedly, about taking their so-called “right” away! They go all hysterical!

    I rest my case.

  • grumpyoldfart

    That Jesper Both Pederson is a little scallywag isn’t he?

  • dhall

    #24 – That’s one way to phrase it. I was thinking neandertal, but I didn’t want to insult the neandertals.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    “I still adhere to the old-fashioned belief that the hand that rocks the cradle wields a better and a stronger influence upon the Nation than the hand that writes the ballot,”

    Sounds like he made the case for why women should run things.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    If you men can’t understand that women fundamentally are controlled by their feelings.

    And men are controlled by, what – their feelings. Got it.

  • suttkus

    Men are dominated by rationality. That’s why most of the people in jail on assault charges are women. Men rationally realize that giving into their rage and punching someone is wrong and will likely get them in trouble, while emotional woman cannot control their anger and just attack.

    Also, most trill seekers and daredevils are women, unable to control their lust for emotional highs, they do stupid things, earning them places in America’s Dumbest Home Videos and such, while you never see men in such programs, as men rationally realize that doing stupid things for the emotional high is logically unjustifiable.

    The third proof that men are rational while women are dominated by their emotions comes from the modelling industries. A quick perusal of any collection of calendars or posters on offer shows that beefcake posts aimed at women far outnumber cheesecake posters aimed at men. Men are simply too rational to give into their baser emotions and buy a lot of pictures of women in revealing (or no) clothing, while the industry playing to women’s out-of-control need to view men is outrageously large. Playgirl is one of the world’s most successful magazines while Playboy barely publishes quarterly.

    Well, I can’t imagine that any meaningful argument could follow this as the evidence is simply overwhelming. Men are rational, women are dominated by their emotions (poor creatures). Thus it falls to men to protect women from… something… clearly not men, since men are so rational. Well, something. I’m sure I’ll think of it with my advanced rational brain later.

  • leni

    Every time I read these things (and plenty of people still say them, only with worse grammar and less old timey charm) I think what they are arguing for is a slave class.

    Because it is. And these narcissists think this is what the universe owes them: they’re own personal slave. Or slaves as the case may be.

    Women report false rapes as revenge for affairs.

    They simply don’t understand how serious an allegation it is.

    And men murder, rape and rob a lot more people than women do. Can we apply your own standards to you, or is it just for everyone not-you? Nope. Nothing “emotional” about that.

  • leni

    PS suttkus, you forgot sports.

  • marcus

    Jesper @ 11 “Women report false rapes as revenge for affairs.

    They simply don’t understand how serious an allegation it is.”

    Thanks for sharing you personal experiences. Does this happen to you often?

  • Rowan vet-tech

    Oh yeah, man, going to the police when my stalker tried to break into my house was clearly an act of revenge against my then boyfriend.

    Hell, even the police officer basically said so, so it must be true, because a manly-man-penis-haver said so.

    I love how the men who try to claim that women are irrational because we are supposedly ruled by feelings always seem to whine about their own feefees getting bruised. It is hilarious. Oh wait, amusement is an emotion. drat.

  • Michael Heath

    We hardly ever need to make the case that individuals from a particular group have acted in a manner that argues these people also deserve to have their rights protected. It’s also a fallacious argument; the discriminated against don’t need to “prove” themselves worthy of equal rights. Instead equality advocates merely need to argue that a government that doesn’t equally protect the rights of each individual demonstrably lacks credibility, that ‘just governance’ requires the equal protection of rights and due process.

  • whheydt

    Re: Jesper Both Pedersen…

    Cardinal Raymond Burke…is that you?

  • Lady Mondegreen (aka Stacy)

    for I do not like to think of the day when papa’s purse will be called upon to contribute to two opposing wigwams,” he said. “One is plenty.”

    …Wait, what?

  • Holms

    I’m feeling contempt for Jesper. That’s an emotion, so am I (secretly) a 189cm tall bearded woman?

  • dingojack

    thecalmone – even better than that, they could stand for, and be elected to office (Unlike NZ).

    Dingo

  • suttkus

    @Lady Mondegreen:

    It’s a hilarious joke because if women get the right to vote, they might develop political opinions and donate money to political causes. And they might not even donate to the same cause as their husband, thus (since women don’t have their own money), the husband’s money would be going to two opposing causes! Hilarious! It really points out how silly it is giving women the vote was.

    @leni:

    Yes, I totally forgot how sports plays into this. Women are infamous for being totally into sports dedicating themselves to specific teams with near religious fervor, attitudes rare as chicken teeth among men. I don’t know how I could have missed such clear evidence!

  • suttkus

    I remember another anti-suffrage argument that was the direct opposite of the wigwam joke. One congressman claimed that giving women the vote would be unfair to bachelors since it would give married men twice the voting power of single men. Obviously, a wife will vote as her husband tells her to! How single women were supposed to make up their minds wasn’t immediately clear…

  • dingojack

    Leni – All those (female) fans of sports aren’t really women at all? So what are they? Lizerdpeople from the Earth’s core, perhaps?

    Dingo

    ———

    Also it’s interesting all those highly dedicated sportswomen, such as the Williams sisters, aren’t really women, either. Are you gonna tell them? :)

  • dingojack

    Suttkiss – well ululation is a common way of expressing joy or grief amongst women in some cultures, so you could count women as ‘trill seekers’…

    😉 Dingo

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    So, you worthless pieces of dung.

    Any news on your conference?

    I’m thinking of coming over.

  • Holms

    Trolls gotta troll.

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    Keep saying that to yourself Holms.

    I’m sure it will make you feel better.

  • dingojack

    If you do Jesper, make sure it’s caught on video. That way everybody can enjoy your humiliation…

    :) Dingo

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    I’ve got a phone. That will do.

    I’m here to take PZ Myers and affiliates of all colour and genders down.

    You don’t deserve free speech.

  • suttkus

    Dingojack, my point wasn’t that women don’t engage in the emotional behaviors listed, but rather that they are more often associated with men and put paid any notion that men are more rational in general. Certainly, many women enjoy acting ridiculous to show their devotion to a sports team, are thrill-seekers, etc. And as our culture continues losing its stereotypical expectations, I expect to see more parity in all sorts of emotional, irrational behaviors. (And before anyone gets my position confused further, emotional and irrational behaviors aren’t bad things in and of themselves. I enjoy a fair number of utterly irrational behaviors, myself.)

  • zenlike

    Jesper Both Pedersen,

    I really hope for your sake that you are indeed ‘just’ trolling, because the alternative is that you are a sad and pathetic bigot, with authoritan and fascistic tendencies.

    Also, you are not really towing the party line, I thought MRA’s were always whining about free speech, and yet here you are advocating for abolishing this basic human right.

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    Dear zenlike.

    In the future I’d advise you to take a clue from your name and show some integrity.

    You lying is showing.

  • dingojack

    Yeah — your current effort shows that, clearly, you’re an debating super genius. @@

    Dingo

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    Yo, Dingo.

    Dogs can’t talk you fool.

  • dingojack

    Suttkiss – making a bad argument undermines your own point.

    Dingo

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    Dingo, criticizing others for bad arguments when you yourself have none is not very stylish.

    It’s a dick move.

  • dingojack

    Jesper — you angling for a Bryan Fischer award? You’ve got my vote.

    Dingo

  • zenlike

    So Jesper, which lie did I tell?

  • zenlike

    Jesper, you also seem very emotional about all this. I think your Vulcan Powers are slipping…

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    You guys can’t handle the truth. So fuck off.

    Or think of something better, you fucking hypocrites.

  • M’thew

    Were it not for shattering an ideal, were it not for dethroning her from that high pedestal upon which we are accustomed to place her, and dragging her down to the level of us beastly men, I believe I might even today be willing to vote for universal woman suffrage.

    (Emphasis mine)

    Can someone explain to me why men are so beastly, yet more intelligent, capable and deserving of being leaders than women? It’s one of my major gripes with all sorts of religions that proclaim that men are superior to women: a women needs to show only a tiny bit of a bare ankle, and the strong, logical, leading men are instantly reduced to blithering idiots who think of nothing but trying to mate with her. Do these people even understand the words they are speaking?

    I don’t think beastly men should be allowed to vote, or be voted into office. Leave that to the women on the pedestal, please.

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    So, hands up if you think some women deserves to be raped.

  • dingojack

    Jesper — looking for ‘love’ eh?

    Dingo

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    Your words speak for themselves, Dingo.

    Game over.

  • dingojack

    Aww no, you’re not going to flounce off are you? I was having such a good time batting you around.

    Dingo

  • zenlike

    Jesper,

    if you would in fact try to make a case why your viewpoint is in fact correct, or even start with stating what your viewpoint in fact is, we could actually argue with you.

    But instead you accuse people of lying why not bothering to state what the lies in fact are.

    Your dishonesty in this regards is in plain view for any other reader of this thread. Congratulations I guess.

  • Nick Gotts

    It seems scarcely possible, but in Jesper Both Pedersen, we have a commenter both more stupid and more repulsive than our old chum jonathangray!

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    PZ Myers. Guilty as fuck.

    Revel in him.

  • zenlike

    Jesper,

    Guilty of what? Stop making vague accusations and actually make your case.

  • Jesper Both Pedersen

    Give it up, PZ. You’re busted.

  • U Frood

    “I still adhere to the old-fashioned belief that the hand that rocks the cradle wields a better and a stronger influence upon the Nation than the hand that writes the ballot,”

    Sounds like he made the case for why women should run things.

    Or maybe he should have been taking a larger role in raising his kids.

  • dingojack

    Is it physically possible, within the laws of physics*, for this Jesper person get any more ridiculous?!?

    Dingo

    ———

    *without tearing the universe apart, that is.

  • eternalstudent

    Meh, I don’t even know why y’all are engaging him. As trolls go this guy is the lamest, most unimaginative I’ve ever seen. Not even fun to watch.

  • Holms

    Your words speak for themselves, Dingo.

    Yes, that’s typically what words do. Well done, soon-to-be-banned idiot.

  • birgerjohansson

    Methinks the banhammer soon descends over the troll. Go, Mjölnir!

  • birgerjohansson

    Oops, soory, wrong thread. Should have been Pharyngula.

  • dingojack

    How bizarre, when Congress legislating to prevent women from voting in the US, here they’d been voting for 13 years without ‘voting in that lovely Chris Watson in eight times because he’s so [sigh] dreamy’ [or whatever horse-shit the US Congress though was going to happen].

    Dingo

  • dingojack

    ‘though’ should be ‘thought’. Editing failure on my part.

    Dingo

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    Oh god. Colnago called someone an “Israel basher” and was still the more reasonable of the two.

  • dingojack

    When a genocidal fool thinks you’re nuts, you’re in serious trouble.

    Dingo

  • Artor

    I think it’s interesting, and also very telling, that colnago80’s only gripe against Jesper is that he “bashes Israel.” (comment #7) Hey, colnago, you’re slacking. You didn’t compare him to Schikelgruber!

  • Trebuchet

    Latest Tweet from the troll:

    Obama = Hitler

    They’re both racists.

    https://twitter.com/JesperBothPede1/status/555659501677068288

  • leni

    dingojack:

    Leni – All those (female) fans of sports aren’t really women at all? So what are they?

    Oh, they are women. That is why they are always hysterical at sporting events, just like they are everywhere else. Unlike male fans, who calmly determine their support of a particular team by objectively determining the better team on a game by game basis.

  • jonathangray

    ENOUGH SAID

    “Votes for women!”

    was the cry

    Reaching upward

    to the sky

    Crashing glass

    and flashing eye

    “Votes for women”

    was the cry.

    “Boats for women!”

    was the cry

    When the brave

    Were come to die.

    When the end was drawing nigh –

    “Boats for women”

    was the cry.

    Life has many

    Little jests

    Insignificant

    as tests.

    Doubt and bitterness assail

    But “Boats for women”

    tells the tale.

    – Clark McAdams, St Louis Dispatch, 1912, quoted in The Titanic Reader

  • dingojack

    Jon-Jon — Apart from Titanic and Birkenhead, name another English vessel that ‘women and children first’ was implemented.

    I’ll wait.

    Dingo

  • scienceavenger

    It is high time the news changed “women and children” to “children” when reporting war events. Well-intentioned sexism is still sexism.

  • Pingback: History repeating | SINMANTYX()

  • jonathangray

    dingojack:

    Apart from Titanic and Birkenhead, name another English vessel that ‘women and children first’ was implemented.

    The question is not to what extent it was implemented historically; the question is whether the principle is accepted or not, and why.