What were some of the justifications for denying women the right to vote? Among some of the ridiculous reasons why women weren't allowed to vote was the belief that women just weren’t smart enough to understand politics – a falsehood that sadly, though not surprisingly, still exists in modern society. Some of the historical justifications for not letting women vote stemmed from a fear of different feminism movements and the growing demand for equal rights.
What might surprise you is that some of the arguments against women's suffrage came from females themselves. Large groups of women organized and protested against the suffrage movement, believing that if women became involved in politics, they would ignore their domestic duties. The right to vote was so hotly debated that even postcards about suffrage were printed! Compiled here for your perusal are some of the most ridiculous historical reasons for not letting women vote.
That’s right. Some people believed that if women won the right to vote, the entire human species would die out. This argument was often cited by anti-suffrage leaders who believed that “if women become involved in politics, they will stop marrying, having children, and the human race will die out.” Astonishingly, nearly a century has passed since women got the right to vote and humanity is still here.
Ah, the old favorite “women are too emotional to (insert task you don't want women to perform here).” Unfortunately, this is a belief that persists to this day. While there are many accounts of why women are too emotional to vote, one man’s declaration at a town meeting states:
"A woman's brain involves emotion rather than intellect; and whilst this feature fits her admirably as a creature burdened with the preservation and happiness of the human species, it painfully disqualifies her for the sterner duties to be performed by the intellectual faculties. Never mind the fact that history is riddled with brilliant female strategists who navigated their nations into some of their most glorious ages."
In a pamphlet arguing for women’s right to vote, minister and activist Thomas Wentworth Higginson outlines some of the common justifications against women’s suffrage. One unsurprising reason some men did not want women to get the vote was because they did not want to hear women talk about politics. The pamphlet cites the following as a common complaint about women’s suffrage: “I should not wish to hear my wife in town meeting.” The "now go make me a sandwich" is implied.
Opponents of the suffrage movement believed that a woman’s role was to birth and raise sons who would then grow up and engage in politics - always voting in their mother’s interest, of course. Texas Democratic Congressman Martin Dies said:
“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. A nation that has good mothers to mold the boys will never want for good men to make the ballots."