MRS. P.J. GILLIGAN
February 4, 2014 11:43 AM   Subscribe

How a 1908 Anti-Suffrage Cartoon Became an Internet Sensation (poster, tumblr)

but enough about the dystopian future of women's suffrage.
Harry Grant Dart was a sketch artist and cartoonist at the turn of last century, who made fantastic visions of futures containing airships, cityscapes (larger), mail delivery, technologies, The Explorigator, baseball, warfare, and more

Dart, one of the Unknown Comics Visionaries.
posted by the man of twists and turns (72 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
In my own mind, Mrs. P.J. Gilligan's exists in a future consensual society of the sort envisioned by Neal Stephenson or Kim Stanley Robinson, in which the members practice matriarchy (or at least radical gender equality) but dress like it's still Edwardian times.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:52 AM on February 4 [7 favorites]


The commentary in the first link suffers a little from a bad presentist bias that prevents the writer from seeing the ways in which Dart's sense of the "horror" of this scene is also tongue-in-cheek (see, for example, the pained head-scratching over why we're supposed to be horrified by free fudge). That is, this is more a "boy, women these days!" piece than a "OMG, the monstrous regiment of women must be crushed before we're doomed forever!" piece.
posted by yoink at 11:53 AM on February 4 [8 favorites]


(Ha I was just about to run in here with an explanation for the "Free lunch" sign but they beat me to it, also I wouldn't mind if more American bars took after pubs and where genial common houses and ad hoc community centers rather than being dark caves to get drunk in please.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:54 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Also, I want to go there.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:54 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


You ever wish you could go back in time and just slap people?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:56 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Oh man I saw this FPP and thought "oh I hope it is the one I am thinking about" and it is.

You can buy the version that's under the "poster" link here.
posted by griphus at 11:57 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


In the Suffrage-y Future of Mrs. P. J. Gilligan, there is only complimentary fudge and almonds.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:01 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


How low, exactly, is the bar for something to be called an "internet sensation"? Re-tweeted by two or more members of the digerati?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:04 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


How about this, before I got halfway through the first line I knew which illustration they where talking about.
posted by The Whelk at 12:05 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


I was wondering that myself, Thorzdad. I've never heard of this cartoon before this post, but I love it. I just bought the 11"*17" print, and I'm going to give it as a gift to my mother and her wife.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:06 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


How low, exactly, is the bar for something to be called an "internet sensation"?

38K likes/reblogs and getting featured on Tumblr Radar is a pretty good inroad.
posted by griphus at 12:06 PM on February 4


In the Suffrage-y Future of Mrs. P. J. Gilligan, there is only complimentary fudge and almonds.

By an odd coincidence, that's a deleted line from an early draft of John Lennon's "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite."
posted by yoink at 12:07 PM on February 4 [12 favorites]


It's fascinating to me that so many people decided (still think, I think) that giving women rights will result in women acting just like men - which is to say, badly.
posted by rtha at 12:07 PM on February 4


( hey remember that post about public drinking fountains a while back? They where put in as a temperance measure to prevent people from going into a bar for a drink, where the free lunches would be available and salty as hell ...another fun fact! Caviar was very popular as a bar snack, as was salt packed lobster. Fudge and almonds are also traditionally salted.)
posted by The Whelk at 12:07 PM on February 4


How low, exactly, is the bar for something to be called an "internet sensation"? Re-tweeted by two or more members of the digerati?

Thorzdad's post is rapidly becoming an internet sensation!
posted by yoink at 12:08 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


The focus of this post made me edit my contact *ahem*
posted by infini at 12:10 PM on February 4


the free lunches would be available and salty as hell

Hence the invention of Maryland's beloved Old Bay condiment, The Whelk. Decades ago, when blue crabs were cheap and plentiful enough to give away as bar snacks, a brilliant man invented a seasoning blend to make them saltier and spicier, thus encouraging patrons to buy more beer.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:10 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Oh, awesome. Benjamin Breen -- who's one of The Appendix' founders and who penned the first link, is the son of one my wife's (former) work colleagues.

Small world.
posted by notyou at 12:14 PM on February 4


You ever wish you could go back in time and just slap people?

No. Because, when everyone went back in time to slap the begeezus out of Hitler, it would cause a chronojam sufficient to disrupt travel for 2500 subjective years either way, which could easily cause disasters like the erasure of the 37th Dynasty of the Second NeoAssyrian Empire.

Hmmmmm.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:19 PM on February 4 [9 favorites]


From the Puck piece quoted in the article: blithely busy doing battle against all manner of foes in trousers

I feel a new tattoo coming on.
posted by emmtee at 12:19 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Why fudge? Fudge seems to have had its origin in women's colleges, and so was probably associated with women:
from the Davenport Daily Tribune of Iowa for 22 February 1895:
“Nearly every night at college,” said the Vassar girl, “some girl may be found somewhere who is making ‘fudges’ or giving a fudge party.” Fudges are Vassar chocolates, and they are simply the most delicious edibles ever manufactured by a set of sweetmeat-loving girls. Their origin is wrapped in mystery. We only know that their receipt is handed down from year to year by old students to new, and that they belong peculiarly to Vassar.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:23 PM on February 4 [9 favorites]


which could easily cause disasters like the erasure of the 37th Dynasty of the Second NeoAssyrian Empire.


Honestly, not a huge loss. It was (will be) just elaborate beards and woven man-skirts everywhere. Sort of like Portland, but with more ziggurats.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:25 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


sweetmeat-loving girls
posted by kmz at 12:25 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


One-hundred years later, the phrase "giving a fudge party" still sounds pretty damn scandalous.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:28 PM on February 4 [15 favorites]


Replace the word "fudge" with "reefer" in that first sentence and you have your explanation.

MetaFilter: Sort of like Portland, but with more ziggurats.
posted by griphus at 12:31 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


sweetmeat-loving girls

They just want to pick your brain.
posted by The Whelk at 12:35 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


A Google image search for "suffrage cartoons" gives you lots of results not much different; there were many variations on the "women doing man things like smoking, spitting, hanging out in bars." One that I have in the book Make Way! 200 Years of Women in Cartoons shows a similar scene, although there is a man in a tutu dancing for the ladies' entertainment. One woman says to another "Why don't you ever bring your brother here?" The second lady replies "Oh, no, he's been much too delicately brought up for such a rough atmosphere."

I like Kate Beaton's take on the Oh No Lady Cyclist! genre, myself.

Anyway, cartoons about What the Women are Up To, My Heavens! was a huge genre at the turn of the century; it wasn't just about suffrage.
posted by emjaybee at 12:37 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Tying this in with Hannibal will guarantee at least 10x the reblogs.
posted by kmz at 12:37 PM on February 4


No. Because, when everyone went back in time to slap the begeezus out of Hitler, it would cause a chronojam sufficient to disrupt travel for 2500 subjective years either way, which could easily cause disasters like the erasure of the 37th Dynasty of the Second NeoAssyrian Empire.

I've seen, time and time again, basic hitler-slapping technologies get hacked by chrono-hipsters, who use it to mine out our precious supplies of raw vintage.

There's nothing sadder than a booming thrift store become desolate wasteland, filled only with piles of microwave cookbooks and broken, stained cooking utensils.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:39 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]



Tying this in with Hannibal will guarantee at least 10x the reblogs.

just put quotation marks around "fudge".
posted by The Whelk at 12:42 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


the phrase "giving a fudge party" still sounds pretty damn scandalous.

That is just another one of those laughable Davenport Daily Tribune "trend" pieces that have no basis in reality. If "fudges" do in fact exist, then fudgery is almost certainly limited to some small circle of friends. I highly doubt that very many real-life people have given a fudge party.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:45 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


It's fascinating to me that so many people decided (still think, I think) that giving women rights will result in women acting just like men - which is to say, badly.

Yeah. Moral panic around the idea of women "acting like" men or vice versa -- for however "acting like" is defined at the time -- seems to be an ever-present feature of Western society. One which leads to discrimination, abuse, and murder.
posted by Foosnark at 12:45 PM on February 4


(And really, not jut Western society.)
posted by Foosnark at 12:46 PM on February 4


Well, I knew what illustration this was as soon as I read the word "How."

All this talk of fudge is really making me want some fudge. Are you all working for some kind of fudge syndicate?
posted by Mister_A at 1:04 PM on February 4


Whoa! In the 'Explorigator' link, it is revealed that the airship is piloted by none other than Adm. FUDGE.
posted by Mister_A at 1:07 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


38K likes/reblogs and getting featured on Tumblr Radar is a pretty good inroad.

In all sincerity, 38k seems low. Getting featured might be a better bar, but 38k is pretty darn small as a quantitative metric. Assessments of these things need to be more holistic. The number of people who've bought the poster, for instance, or the number of derivative works. (There isn't enough search volume for google trends to register it.)
posted by Going To Maine at 1:10 PM on February 4


AIN'T GIVE A DAMN
posted by Madamina at 1:18 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


La femme au centre portant le chapeau bleu avec des plumes: Adèle Blanc-Sec. Sans aucun doute.


Is there nothing she cannot do? We have here evidence of time travel, mes amis.
posted by mwhybark at 1:26 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


I thought I'd seen that fly by again this morning on tumblr. I love the rest of his art, too.
posted by immlass at 1:27 PM on February 4


Also that airship illo is UNTOUCHABLE.
posted by mwhybark at 1:28 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


GenjiandProust: Because, when everyone went back in time to slap the begeezus out of Hitler, it would cause a chronojam sufficient to disrupt travel for 2500 subjective years either way, which could easily cause disasters like the erasure of the 37th Dynasty of the Second NeoAssyrian Empire.

Hmmmmm.


That's just the sort of thing that led to the creation of CamTim!
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:29 PM on February 4


The kids in that picture looked well cared for and not unhappy.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 1:39 PM on February 4


mwhybark: Also that airship illo is UNTOUCHABLE.

When I woke up this morning, I did not think that my day would involve the thought, "Damn, that is a sexy blimp!"
posted by Rock Steady at 1:41 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Because, when everyone went back in time to slap the begeezus out of Hitler,

That would require the simultaneous first-use of a very large number of time travel devices. Surely Hitler is going to get erased from history pretty early on in the development of time travel devices (first time traveler returns from first time-travel expedition: "So, where did you go?" "I...I'm not sure. I seem to recall strangling a baby in its cradle for some reason." "OMG, you're worse than Genghis Khan!" "Genghis Khan, eh? Wait a moment, brb...").

The pile-ups will happen with much more obscure figures. Two or three people showing up at the same time to give the guy who cancelled Firefly a wet-willy. That sort of thing.
posted by yoink at 1:42 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Kate Beaton and Fudge. I like this discussion.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:47 PM on February 4


Damnit, everyone is beating me to Kate Beaton's velocipedestrienne comic. But no one is saying velocipedestrienne, which is a shame.

velocipedestrienne
posted by ckape at 1:52 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I almost didn't believe that this image was authentically from 1908 -- the colors are too vibrant and the shadowing looks modern to me. It is real, but the version the Appendix put up has been retouched. You can see a much higher quality version of the original on the Library of Congress website here.
posted by crazy with stars at 1:55 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


That's just the sort of thing that led to the creation of CamTim!

All these problems arise when the degenerate heirs of the Greco-Roman "empire" fail to model time as a cube, as nature and Odin intended. 4 Earth Quadrants simultaneously rotate inside 4 Time Cube Quarters to create 4- 24 hour days within one Earth rotation.

See! No problem.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:58 PM on February 4


It's a interestingly ambiguous picture. On the surface, it's anti-woman's rights in a way that's amusing to us today -- oh my god, women may hang out at bars and smoke and drink! Yet the women aren't pictured as depraved and degenerate; no Hogarthian red faces and passed out drunks, they are attractive and tidily dressed. The children aren't little starving ragamuffins, they are well clothed and glossy. So there's almost a sense of a second level where the artist is perhaps mocking those who are shocked by the thought.
posted by tavella at 2:00 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


I don't have a lot to contribute, but I would definitely check out the Little Mother Brewing Co. Beer with goats on is a sure indicator of quality.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:01 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Velocipedestriennes!
They're wheel-borne, death-metal hens.
You shout, "I won't budge!"
Then you're neck-deep in fudge
With your body all bruises and bends!
posted by yoink at 2:07 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


You can see a much higher quality version of the original on the Library of Congress website here.

Holy crap, that tiff! "I wonder what this square millimeter of the original looks like?"
posted by yoink at 2:09 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Punch spent decades doing "dark future of women's rights" cartoons-- the latter half of 1851 has a Bloomerist cartoon in almost every issue.
A selection
Magnificent two-page spread of the Bloomerist Dream
posted by Erasmouse at 2:47 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


His other Puck illustrations at the Library of Congress are fun. I really like In the Coming Era of Socialism
posted by interplanetjanet at 2:47 PM on February 4


Yet the women aren't pictured as depraved and degenerate; no Hogarthian red faces and passed out drunks, they are attractive and tidily dressed. [...] So there's almost a sense of a second level where the artist is perhaps mocking those who are shocked by the thought.

I wondered the same thing: it wouldn't have been hard to push the scene over the edge into outright condemnation, yet the illustrator took significant pains not to. The activities that the women are doing are "male", but not really condemnable. In fact, the whole thing seems designed to point out a certain amount of hypocrisy among anti-suffragette men.

It's like a print version of a Stephen Colbert bit; I'm not convinced it should be taken at face value.

Sometimes I think people are way too quick to treat anything from more than a century ago very uncritically and at face value, as though irony and sarcasm were things that had been invented alongside antibiotics.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:50 PM on February 4 [12 favorites]


Back in November a random person contacted me (1, 2) to say that I was the first person to ever tweet this image, which I suppose is.. a thing that I accidentally did on the internet! I admit to feeling some vague existential disappointment now that I got like 5 RTs from it (almost a record for me) and a few months later another person got almost 5,000.

But really, the important thing here is free fudge.
posted by jess at 2:52 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


Also none of the women have the stock "chimp like cartoon face of mockery" that was part of the visual language of the time, they're all finely rendered individuals.
posted by The Whelk at 3:00 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I thought the stock ticker was a snail in a bell jar. :-/
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:05 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Yet the women aren't pictured as depraved and degenerate; no Hogarthian red faces and passed out drunks, they are attractive and tidily dressed. The children aren't little starving ragamuffins, they are well clothed and glossy. So there's almost a sense of a second level where the artist is perhaps mocking those who are shocked by the thought.

Certainly it's possible that the artist intended this as a layered parody of those shocked by liberties women were taking rather than a parody of the liberties, but there's another element here: the activities portrayed are everyday ones for men, and portraying women in those same circumstances as drunkards or buffoons overflows onto the men who smoke, drink, and make free in taverns as a matter of course. That is, making the women look coarsened or slackened or joyless or foolish plants the idea that perhaps men are in some way poisoned or diminished by the same indulgences.

Gender policing can be very subtle: it isn't necessary to indict the activities themselves, just to point out how different it looks to society's narrow view when the activities allowed to one group are taken up by another.
posted by Elsa at 4:57 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Every time I go back to this pic, the illustrator's actual delight in making it becomes clearer to me. He was handed a brief, "scare the duffers," and he instead produced a utopian satire. Genius.
posted by mwhybark at 5:14 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Also none of the women have the stock "chimp like cartoon face of mockery"

M. Le Whelk, je vous aime comme frere, but in the middle back near the freezer stack he does actually do a coupla Red Queen faces. He sure didn't foreground 'em, though.

Finally, Chicago peeps, I assert this is an alternate-universe Rainbo Room.
posted by mwhybark at 5:17 PM on February 4


I like the blimp painting cause the guy looks like he's in the middle of a " AND ANOTHER THING " rant and the female pilot is all " whatever I got a kick ass motor blimp you wanna fucking walk?"
posted by The Whelk at 5:17 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Mulligan Slattery sounds like a kick-ass detective

She probably has like derringers secreted all over her hoop skirt

Big floppy sun hat pops open to reveal forensic equipment on articulated arms
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:28 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


The "Maud and Eliza" that's advertised behind the bar is likely a female version of the very-masculine Tom and Jerry. The drink we know is made of warm rum and water, topped with egg yolks and sugar folded into stiffly beaten egg whites. The "Maud and Eliza" is probably made all girly by the addition of a paper umbrella or something. Ha, girls.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:29 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Guys guys guys

We have one job

We have to invent the Maud And Eliza.
posted by The Whelk at 5:33 PM on February 4


Also none of the women have the stock "chimp like cartoon face of mockery" that was part of the visual language of the time


In the 19th century, that was mostly used to characterize the Irish.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:25 PM on February 4


Yep! But it also showed up in suffragette cartoons.
posted by The Whelk at 6:37 PM on February 4


My absolute favorite thing about this poster is that the woman seated at the table on the far left (her back to us, lighting her cigar) is dressed in mourning clothes.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:48 PM on February 4


Well I know for one that the Maud is much like the Bea: the main ingredient is sarcasm.
posted by littlesq at 7:19 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


The Suffragette Bar: Nothing but Ice Cream and Pretzels! sounds like a great place to hang out.
posted by Mitheral at 7:35 PM on February 4


I really would like to visit that place, but I'm afraid I can't afford the ticket.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:38 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


JiA, Alison Bechdel did quite a bit of that in her Dykes to Watch out For strip (Peg and Jenny's ice cream comes to mind).
posted by brujita at 8:53 PM on February 4


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