I want to vote, but my wife won't let me! ~copyright 1909~
July 12, 2016 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Here’s a collection of totally ridiculous vintage postcards and posters dated from around 1900 to 1914 warning men of the dangers associated with the suffragette movement and of allowing women to think for themselves.
posted by aka burlap (43 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
total badass
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:15 AM on July 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


These are good, but not as good as my favourite. (It was my iPad/iPhone wallpaper for at least a year.)
posted by Kitteh at 10:15 AM on July 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


I've seen most of these before, but they're still fantastic. This time I note the Suffragette vs Police posters are especially timely. Confrontations with police have long been the reward for progressive activists.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:17 AM on July 12, 2016


Foci: that's a cutout of a larger image.
posted by dilaudid at 10:21 AM on July 12, 2016 [14 favorites]


Actually, what strikes me about these is how scary and violent many of them are. Force feeding really scares the hell out of me because it seems so easy to kill someone - leaving aside the horror of the act. And the fantasy diagrams with locks and crushing implements - they're horrible!

If anything, these remind me a bit of Klaus Theweleit's study of violent misogyny and the Freikorps, Male Fantasies: Women, Floods, Bodies, History. These are much sunnier than the material he studies, of course, but the same visceral yearning to do violence to women's bodies is present.
posted by Frowner at 10:23 AM on July 12, 2016 [12 favorites]


Amazing how the majority of the women depicted are, if you'll pardon the expression, old battleaxes who couldn't get a man, and that's the only reason they want the vote.

(Just fyi, they preferred the term 'Suffragists' rather than 'Suffragette', and considered the latter a bit of a put-down.)
posted by easily confused at 10:24 AM on July 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Anti-Suffragist postcards previously.
posted by zamboni at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Related
posted by not_the_water at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


easily confused: Amazing how the majority of the women depicted are, if you'll pardon the expression, old battleaxes who couldn't get a man, and that's the only reason they want the vote.

That's still a pretty common attack on feminists, isn't it?
posted by clawsoon at 10:31 AM on July 12, 2016 [14 favorites]


Foci: that's a cutout of a larger image.

holy shit i want to go to that pub every. single. night. forever. and the lady with the jaunty green-plumed hat and the surly cloud of cigar smoke is my spirit animal
posted by Mayor West at 10:31 AM on July 12, 2016 [16 favorites]


Yeah I don’t find most of these ridiculous in an amusing way at all, some are terrifying and really violent in a nasty way, straight out of medieval torture history - or the Saw movies, whatever you prefer as reference. Force feeding? Chaining and locking up mouths, "what I’d do to the suffragists"?

I shouldn’t be shocked but I’d never seen that kind of extreme, I was at least slightly familiar with the ones about the old hag stereotype and the effects of women neglecting their household and all that, not that they’re less nasty but at least there is no direct violence depicted.

This one from the original link on the other hand is something that could very much be repurposed today for the opposite effect than originally intended.
posted by bitteschoen at 10:40 AM on July 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


My response whenever I see this is that these "scary women" seem like they'd be awesome to hang out with, and then I realize I do hang out with their modern day equivalents and that's awesome. So thanks to you!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:40 AM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Lay off the "spirit animal" bit, MW- that's someone's culture you're riffing off.
posted by zamboni at 10:41 AM on July 12, 2016


I've seen these before, but man, they are just dumbfounding.

And why "56 lbs" specifically? Anyone know?
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 10:41 AM on July 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


bitteschoen: This one from the original link on the other hand is something that could very much be repurposed today for the opposite effect than originally intended.

It's telling how terrifying they found the prospect of being in a woman's position to be. That's still a big part of toxic masculinity: You've got to be a manly man, because the horrific alternative is that you might get treated the way that women are routinely treated.
posted by clawsoon at 10:45 AM on July 12, 2016 [12 favorites]


Speaking of ugliness and women and suffrage: Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton (related to that Bulwer-Lytton, yes) disguised herself as a working class woman and used "ugly" signifiers (hairstyle, glasses, etc) because she had observed that working class women were treated worse than middle class woman, and ugly women treated worst of all. Excerpts from her account, including the force feeding, are here. She did this in January 1910 and her health was so ruined by her ordeal that she suffered the first of a series of strokes in August of that year, although she was only 41. She was an invalid thereafter although she continued with some political activity and she died at 54.

It's difficult not to think of Abu Ghraib - this is one of the truths of state power, cruelty and degredation worked on whichever bodies are most vulnerable.
posted by Frowner at 10:47 AM on July 12, 2016 [12 favorites]


And why "56 lbs" specifically? Anyone know?

my total off the cuff guesses are that it would be a common scale weight for weighing a bushel of corn so it might be a familiar quantity to people. alternately, 56 lb weights are used in the the weight throw track and field event that was on in the 1904 olympics.
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:53 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


And why "56 lbs" specifically? Anyone know?

56 lbs seems to have been a standard UK unit of measure when weighing things, and cast iron weights were manufactured for balances. It's a visual representation of being hobbled by a well-known heavy thing.
56 lb Cast Iron Weights are getting harder to find. Traditionally used for weighing potato’s, coal etc many of these weights have stood idle for years but a surge in scrap metal prices in recent years has sadly seen many of these weights taken out of circulation.
posted by zamboni at 10:55 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I want to vote, but my wife won't let me!

ALL votes matter!
posted by PlusDistance at 10:56 AM on July 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


I was going to say these are good reminders that it wasn't so long ago that US culture was backward and barbaric... then I remembered 2016 and realized we haven't come as far as we should have.

I was a little surprised I didn't see the source of my username in that collection.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:02 AM on July 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


I find these deeply disturbing as well. But worthwhile knowing about.

BTW, 56 pounds = 4 stone. Stones are a British unit of weight, where 14 pounds = 1 stone. Four stone was probably a common weight unit for certain commodities at the time.
posted by angiep at 11:04 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


The pub scene: How a 1908 Anti-Suffrage Cartoon Became an Internet Sensation

The women in the pub scene all seem to be dressed to the nines. These are not no-account scullery maids or "old battle-axes who couldn't get a man." Look at those hats! These are prosperous, high-status people. That must have been a deliberate choice, it must mean something, but I don't quite follow what.

I'm sorry to see the illustrator also made gorgeous drawings I admire very much. How portentous and sad that he traded so much in fantastical futuristic visions on the one hand and reliably railed against women on the other. A preview of today's Sad Puppies, perhaps?
posted by Western Infidels at 11:05 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


And why "56 lbs" specifically? Anyone know?
The struggle to enfranchise women in the United Kingdom in the first couple of decades of the 20th century was long and difficult, but the suffragettes were masters of the art of gaining media attention with elaborate stunts.

One of the most audacious examples of this was an airship flown over London in 1909 by Muriel Matters...

With the airship emblazoned with 'Votes for Women' on one side and 'Women's Freedom League' on the other Matters scattered 56 lb of handbills on the streets and houses below as she went with leading members of the Women's Freedom League, Edith How-Martyn and Miss Elsie Craig, in pursuit by car.
These pamphlets remind me that a woman's expression of her hatred of men is often tied to her efforts to separate herself or simply get away from them, whereas a man's expression of his hatred for women involves the opposite -- getting up close, personal, confrontational, and very often violent.
posted by amnesia and magnets at 11:07 AM on July 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


> The pub scene: How a 1908 Anti-Suffrage Cartoon Became an Internet Sensation

MetaFilter: A dark future of complimentary fudge and almonds.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:22 AM on July 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Muriel Matters

She intended to drop the handbills on the procession of the King as he lead a procession to the Houses of Parliament, but the weather failed to cooperate. Here's a picture of the airship and the route it took.

Matters was also the first woman to make a speech in the UK House of Commons. When the attendants came to remove her for such temerity, they found she had chained and padlocked herself to the grille that separated the Ladies Gallery from the House itself - in order to eject her, they had to remove the barrier that kept women separate from the House. Accounts say that the chains had been bound with wool to muffle the sound of them being attached. In my head, this is a carefully knitted chain cosy.
posted by zamboni at 11:34 AM on July 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


(Just fyi, they preferred the term 'Suffragists' rather than 'Suffragette', and considered the latter a bit of a put-down.)

Apparently it's more nuanced than that:
“Suffragist” entered in 1822 in England, the OED says, to mean “an advocate of the extension of the political franchise.” In the United States, though women had been seeking the vote since before the Civil War, “suffrage” and “suffragist” was applied mainly to the movement to give black men the vote, which happened officially if not actually in 1870. After about 1885, “suffrage” was applied almost exclusively to the movement of women seeking the vote, the OED says. (American women finally got the vote nationally in 1920, eight years before women in Britain were enfranchised.)

And then, in 1906, the Daily Mail in London coined the term “suffragette.” Not just women seeking the vote, these were the “violent or ‘militant’ type” of women seeking the vote: They chained themselves to railings, set buildings on fire at night and went on hunger strikes, among other tactics. While the Daily Mail wanted to differentiate the militants from the “suffragists” who had been more peaceably seeking the vote in England since the 1860s, it also wrote derogatorily about the “suffragettes,” so perhaps the “-ette” suffix was a deliberate demeaning of the movement. But the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, headed by Emmeline Pankhurst, quickly adopted the term for itself. So by that measure, “suffragette” is correct for the movie and the woman in this instance.

Before 1908, at least in The New York Times, women (and blacks) seeking the vote were only “suffragists.” The Times used “suffragette” for that more militant movement in England, until 1908, when it started distinguishing between “suffragist” and “suffragette” in the United States as well.
The suffragists (emphasis on the last syllable) were talking yesterday about the suffragettes (emphasis again on the last syllable). The suffragists said that the suffragettes had put back the cause of votes for women ten years by their Wall Street meeting on Thursday. At different women’s meetings yesterday the subject was brought up, either officially or in private conversation.
Source: Shades of suffrage: -ette vs. -ist
posted by Lexica at 11:40 AM on July 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


total badass
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:15 AM on July 12 [4 favorites +] [!]


I hadn't even looked at the mefi comments yet, but I had just come over to make literally the *exact same post*, to the letter...
posted by FatherDagon at 11:41 AM on July 12, 2016


A have a couple of books of similar cartoons, and they really are the nakedest representation possible of male fear of women. One in particular was a parade in which no men were present at all; there were butchers, blacksmiths, judges, soldiers, scientists, and doctors, all women, being watched over from the stands by a woman President (and cabinet, etc.) The title was merely "Coming" and was clearly meant to scare/amuse. The women were generally drawn with stern faces and glasses, pulled-back hair (because even an over-the-top fantasy could not imagine portraying women with short hair) and came in a variety of body types, just like men do; slim, stout, tall, short.

And I can imagine being a girl in the late 19th century seeing this, and being utterly inspired by the idea of lady surgeons and Supreme Court judges and engineers and pipelayers. And having to hide the fact that they didn't find it scary, but beautiful.
posted by emjaybee at 11:50 AM on July 12, 2016 [23 favorites]


Every time I see these I'm reminded that the idea of what might be termed conservation of oppression is a very old and deeply rooted conservative believe.

One common thread, other than the violence and hate, is the belief that if women become less oppressed men must become more oppressed. Look at all the images depicting a man being treated the way men then treated women.

The core idea seems to be that there's a certain fixed amount of oppression in the universe and that if one group becomes less oppressed then some other group must become more oppressed so that total oppression remains constant. We see similar imagery in anti-abolition and anti-civil rights propaganda, there were several examples of uppity black people lording it over downtroden white people.

We see it, in a somewhat modified form, in Christian dominionists proclaiming that if they aren't allowed to oppress non-Christians than they must be suffering persecution.

Apparently to a great many of the more conservative people there is no such thing as equality, only oppressed and oppressor, and if you aren't the oppressor than by definition you must be the oppressed.
posted by sotonohito at 11:56 AM on July 12, 2016 [22 favorites]


A have a couple of books of similar cartoons, and they really are the nakedest representation possible of male fear of women. One in particular was a parade in which no men were present at all; there were butchers, blacksmiths, judges, soldiers, scientists, and doctors, all women, being watched over from the stands by a woman President (and cabinet, etc.) The title was merely "Coming" and was clearly meant to scare/amuse. The women were generally drawn with stern faces and glasses, pulled-back hair (because even an over-the-top fantasy could not imagine portraying women with short hair) and came in a variety of body types, just like men do; slim, stout, tall, short.

So, uh, what's it going to take to get a giant reproduction of this one sent to the Clinton headquarters? Because if Hilary takes the podium for a press conference with that hanging quietly behind her, I'm pretty sure I'll transcend the finite bounds of reality and enter an ethereal joy-state from which I need never emerge.
posted by Mayor West at 12:00 PM on July 12, 2016 [12 favorites]


The zero-sum fallacy really has a lot to answer for.

That's still a pretty common attack on feminists, isn't it?

Yeah, this persistent concept that fuckability is the only measure of a woman's worth, and the only way she can legitimately wield any power is through her sexuality (and follow-on motherhood). So old/ugly women must steal political power to make up for their own lack.

It's really revolting, and pernicious: you see it today, as well -- MRAs will simultaneously threaten sexual violence against a women they perceive as a threat, and then announce that she's not worth fucking anyway because ugly. The contradiction doesn't even register.

These images are simultaneously funny, horrifying, and inspiring.

And the woman with the bulldog on a leash looks entirely normal -- it's hard to see what is even a problem there. Fashion has changed so much that the signifiers no longer function.
posted by suelac at 12:27 PM on July 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


One in particular was a parade in which no men were present at all; there were butchers, blacksmiths, judges, soldiers, scientists, and doctors, all women, being watched over from the stands by a woman President (and cabinet, etc.) The title was merely "Coming" and was clearly meant to scare/amuse.

An Inauguration of the Future?
posted by zamboni at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2016


I've recently become interested in women who were anti-suffrage. Some prominent and intellectually active ladies were anti-suffrage, such as Mrs. Julian Heath, founder of the Housewives League, a woman who earned clout in the grocery business through organizing other ladies, but who did not wish to be remembered as other than a Mrs., and is subsequently forgotten. Their intellectual descendants have helmets of hair and proclaim that All Lives Matter, and not all of them are stupid; some of them are very clever indeed. They just believe that if they're good enough, beautiful and hard-working and motherly and entertaining and kind and good good good all through, men will do what they are supposed to do and protect them, take care of them. And they would take care of you, too, if you would just work hard and be good enough . . .
posted by Countess Elena at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


Every time I see these I'm reminded that the idea of what might be termed conservation of oppression is a very old and deeply rooted conservative [belief].

I think these zero-sum myths - in whatever form they come - are core functions of civilization itself as a way to divert attention from what the empire demands of your short life. Historically male value is as cannon fodder; female value is as baby factories to produce the next generation of cannon fodder and baby factories. Versus 5000 years ago not much has changed - maybe in the industrialized and corporate eras there has been some transition from cannon fodder to office and factory fodder for men, and now women get to take on both roles, sold as progress of course (and of course it's an improvement, but the unrealistic demands are well documented).

I'm getting really off topic here but in our approaching post-labor economy we'll have to have a rewrite of the social contract of civilization itself, or we'll be mired in the same human misery as ever.
posted by MillMan at 12:48 PM on July 12, 2016


With the airship emblazoned with 'Votes for Women' on one side and 'Women's Freedom League' on the other Matters scattered 56 lb of handbills on the streets and houses below

And 56lbs is not a random number, but specifically "half a hundredweight". It's a good round number, in a sense.
posted by howfar at 12:50 PM on July 12, 2016


The intuition that unmarried and married women would behave different politically wasn't unsound. In 2012, Mitt Romney got 53% of the vote of married women and 31% of the vote unmarried women.
posted by MattD at 1:20 PM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'd have an easier time finding these fun if I thought this sort of sexist attitude wasn't still omnipresent in the United States. Although now the women would be sexualized and the violence slightly below the surface.

I was curious what similar ads looked like in 1950s–1970s Switzerland and came up with a couple of examples. Some other non-American examples on Pinterest.
posted by Nelson at 1:41 PM on July 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Zamboni, similar in style but not that one!
posted by emjaybee at 1:47 PM on July 12, 2016


On a positive (and gorgeous) note:
"Let me in... I bring new light."
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:10 AM on July 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


From Nelson's link, I'm really baffled about the drawing of women firefighters. Is it supposed to be emasculating? Putting women in danger? I don't see how providing a critical service is supposed to be a bad thing.
posted by halifix at 10:37 PM on July 13, 2016


I think the "joke" was that it was unimaginable for women to be firefighters. It is a bit baffling now, isn't it?

The caption reads "WHEN WOMEN VOTE. Startling effect of undisputed female suffrage on the Fire Department of San Francisco, so long sacred to politicians with whiskers."
posted by Nelson at 8:37 AM on July 14, 2016


Nelson: I think the "joke" was that it was unimaginable for women to be firefighters. It is a bit baffling now, isn't it?

And yet, in the news from Canada this morning: She believes a male co-worker from her station smashed the windows in her car three times within a year while it was parked outside the [fire] station.
posted by clawsoon at 8:55 AM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here is the cartoon I mentioned earlier. I've included some others in my Twitter, which is in my profile.

This is my favorite.

Scans from the book Make Way! because I could not find the cartoons online already.
posted by emjaybee at 2:37 PM on July 14, 2016


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