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Feminism suffrage

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Lecture: Feminism and the Suffrage Movement

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Feminism suffrage

  1. 1. The Suffrage Movement and Feminism HIUS157/Prof. Rebecca Jo Plant
  2. 2. Suffrage movement, 1870s-1890 • Recap: Major organizational split in 1869 – American Women’s Suffrage Association •Based in New England •State by state approach •Both women and men – National Women’s Suffrage Association •Elizabeth Cady Stanton/Susan B. Anthony •Supported constitutional amendment •Women’s organization
  3. 3. Doldrum years, 1870-1900 • Very little progress toward the vote • Anomalies: Territories of WY and UT enfranchise women in 1869 and 1870, but not out of concern for equality • Positive development: 1890 NAWSA (National American Woman Suffrage Association) founded – Re-united the movement – Gave up on a constitutional amendment; focused on states • Still very few victories: Colorado (1893); ID (1896) • Between 1896-1910: Not a single state granted women suffrage
  4. 4. New Momentum, 1900-1910s • Suffrage became part of a broader “woman’s movement” • Movement re-energized, but also transformed – Old leadership dying out • Stanton dies in 1906; Anthony in 1910 – More young and working-class women joining – More focused, but also more conservative • Emphasis on “civic housekeeping” appealed to more traditional women • Southern strategy – Reinvigoration of movement coincided with rise of US imperialism abroad • Supporters portray support for women’s rights a sign of “civilization;” critics as a cultural imperialism
  5. 5. Maternalism and the suffrage movement
  6. 6. Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947) • Became head of NAWSA in 1910 • Reached out to WC/immigrant women • 1900-15: 6 more states gave win the vote – CA, 1911 • “Winning Plan”
  7. 7. Harriot Stanton Blatch (1856-1940) • Daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton • Married a Brit – Lost US citizenship – Influenced by more radical British suffrage movement – And socialism • Returned to US in 1907 • Founded the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women – Cross-class alliances – New, modern political tactics
  8. 8. Suffrage as a cause célèbre Ethel Barrymore and Mary Pickford
  9. 9. Antis • 1912: National Association Opposed to Woman’s Suffrage formed in NY – Led by the wealthy Josephine Dodge – Argued suffrage would diminish women’s moral influence – Published a magazine, Woman’s Protest – After 1917 engaged in red-baiting; suffragists = socialists
  10. 10. Anti-suffrage cartoons
  11. 11. Alice Paul (1885-1977) • Federal amendment • Congressional Union (1916) – Drew younger, more militant group • Conflict with NAWSA • Centralized control, daring demonstrations, pressuring the party in power • Led to another split: 1916 National Women’s Party
  12. 12. World War I • Prior to the war, many suffragists had supported the peace movement • Some vocally opposed the war – Jane Addams • But Catt and NAWSA reversed course and lent support to Wilson – Expediency: If women supported the war effort, the government could no longer refuse to give them the vote • NWP continued to denounce Wilson – Called him “Kaiser Wilson” – Widely viewed as treasonous
  13. 13. Jan. 1918: Wilson finally lent his support the cause—as a “war measure” Summer 1919: Congress passed the 19th amendment August 1920: TN became the 36th state to ratify—by one vote!
  14. 14. But, the story didn’t end there • Puerto Rican women—American citizens since 1917, but did not get the vote until: 1929 (literate women); 1935 (all women) • Filipina women – Living under U.S. colonial rule, but did not get the vote until a 1937 plebiscite • Links between woman’s suffrage and imperialism – Some male nationalists portrayed as a US import
  15. 15. Women’s suffrage, worldwide • 1893 New Zealand (still a colony) • 1902 Australia (aboriginal women excluded) • 1906 Finland • 1913 Norway • 1915 Iceland; Denmark • 1917 Canada (not Quebec); USSR • 1918 Germany; Austria; Netherlands; Estonia; Latvia; Poland
  16. 16. Post-WWII • 1950 India • 1952 Greece • 1972 Switzerland • 1972 Bangladesh • 1994 South Africa • 2005 Kuwait • 2006 United Arab Emirates • 2015: Saudi Arabia (municipal elections)
  17. 17. Questions to contemplate • Why does it take so long? • Why do women finally get the vote when they do? • How had the meaning of suffrage changed between 1848 and 1920?
  18. 18. Feminism • Equal rights • Emphasis on personal liberation; self- fulfillment – Challenging the idea of innate sexual differences; freeing oneself from psychological shackles • Economic independence • Sexual emancipation
  19. 19. The Heterodoxy Club • Incubator for feminist ideas – 1912: Founded by Mary Jenney Howe in Greenwich Village – Hybrid group: part radical woman’s club, part consciousness-raising group • Many members led unconventional domestic lives
  20. 20. Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) • Leading feminist intellectual of her day – Women and Economics (1898) • Father had abandoned family – Grew up in poverty • Married at 24; had a child – Suffered a severe nervous breakdown • Separated from her husband and eventually divorced – Relinquished custody of her child to former husband
  21. 21. Gilman’s core beliefs • Emphatic rejection of separate spheres • Victorian “home” bad for women and society: a drain on human progress – Influenced by evolutionary theory • Women should be economically self- sufficient – Rejected “family wage” ideal • Domestic labor should be outsourced to professionals
  22. 22. Emma Goldman (1869-1940) • Escaped arranged marriage by emigrating to America • Prominent anarchist – Edited Mother Earth • Criticized the suffrage movement as too narrow – Supported birth control – Sexual emancipation • Deported during the Red Scare (1919)
  23. 23. “Red Emma” (1893)
  24. 24. What happens to feminism in the 1920s? • Co-opted by consumer culture? – Emphasis on youth, pleasure, heterosexual sociability • Unanticipated outcomes – Disillusionment • System didn’t change dramatically – Gradual decline of separate women’s institutions that had given reformers an institutional base

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