The Weird Familiarity of 100-Year-Old Feminism Memes
October 27, 2016 10:35 PM   Subscribe

Today’s political dialogue—which often merely consists of opposing sides shouting over one another—echoes another contentious era in American politics, when women fought for the right to vote. Then and now, a mix of political tension and new-fangled publishing technology produced an environment ripe for creating and distributing political imagery. The meme-ification of women’s roles in society—in civic life and at home—has been central to an advocacy tradition that far precedes slogans like, “Life’s a bitch, don’t elect one,” or “A woman’s place is in the White House.”

The Weird Familiarity of 100-Year-Old Feminism Memes, by Adrienne LaFrance.

PS There are early-1900s cat pics too
posted by librarina (28 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Nice! I particularly liked this one from 1920:

It's difficult to tell from the grainy image, but that's the Presidency way up there at the top rung. : )
posted by Balna Watya at 11:40 PM on October 27, 2016 [28 favorites]

That one was my particular favourite too, Balna Watnya.

Great post, thanks librarina!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:47 PM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Looking forward to "Our Presidentess". She looks happy.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:56 PM on October 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

One of the things I find amusing (depressing) is the ones that show men being demeaned, mistreated and miserable with their children and finding chores to be such a drag. Because the message is essentially admitting that being a housewife is a super horrible position to be in, and that men are treating their wives like crap, and that they want women to continue being the miserable ones.
posted by picklenickle at 11:59 PM on October 27, 2016 [83 favorites]

picklenickle: I was about to say the same thing!
posted by vernondalhart at 1:01 AM on October 28, 2016

Because the message is essentially admitting that being a housewife is a super horrible position to be in, and that men are treating their wives like crap, and that they want women to continue being the miserable ones.

Yeah, i noticed that too.

This reminds me of a Podcast I listened to recently about a "renaissance" of sorts of the traditional stay at home mother in recent years in Germany. % of Working women increased, but in fact this was driven by women working part time and the percentage of women working full time decreased if I remember correctly. They had interviews with several couples how it is just easier if one parent stays home and one works. It was interesting to hear how it is still mostly women who "sacrifice" their carreer and men predominantly have the role of bread winner. Even in cases where the woman was a lawyer with great prospects and the guy was working as a journalist and still the women tried to find a part time job as a lawyer to accommodate for her to take care of the kid and her husband worked full time as a journalist.

Only in German I am afraid: Link to Podcast and direct to episode here
posted by Megustalations at 2:45 AM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

A Woman's Mind Magnified hit me right in the gut. Ouch. Because somehow women only care about silly "housework" that a dummy could do - yet men are shown suffering from having to take care of their own damn children. Like even a dullard who only thinks about chocolate can run a household!

It reminds me of the image 5 Reasons to Help Your Wife Clean the House. [original article]

We've definitely come far but then I get pretty depressed to think that was 100 years ago and there are still SO many areas where men are making laws and regulations for women and women aren't represented in those areas. And that even women have been saying women are "too emotional and dramatic" to be president. I'm sure I'll be a bawling mess with our first Madam President but there are still so many more areas that need help. We all must keep fighting toward progress!
posted by Crystalinne at 3:17 AM on October 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

"Women are too fickle and emotional to be president," claim supporters of man who flies into a rage at the slightest perceived provocation
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:48 AM on October 28, 2016 [10 favorites]

This whole thing was fascinating as another one of those weird reminders about history that people have always just sort of been the same, and that the only real difference has been the world around them. Somehow that kind of discovery always seems to come as a surprise to me.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:22 AM on October 28, 2016

Yeah, so much "privilege panic" come from the gnawing fear that you might get treated the way you treat others. It's like the Golden Rule in reverse.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:22 AM on October 28, 2016 [16 favorites]

I can't believe they didn't include this, the greatest political cartoon ever penned. And by greatest, I mean worst. And by worst, I mean, it's circled all the way back around to amazing, because after looking at it, my life's goal is to become the surly woman blowing smoke in the faces of the two cherubic youths who are bugging her when she just wants to sit and have a pint.

I mean really. Who WOULDN'T go to P.J. Gilligan's after work every day? They have free fudge!
posted by Mayor West at 5:07 AM on October 28, 2016 [19 favorites]

I'm so sorry Mayor West, it's Free Lunch not Free Fudge (though of course, any really good lunch should *include* fudge).
posted by Secret Sparrow at 5:12 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I actually got a little choked up at "The Apotheosis of Suffrage," even if the caption claimed it was meant ironically.

Also I just sent my little boy off to preschool and then I got to the happy daddy with his little kids and now I really am tearing up a bit.

The fuck is wrong with some people? The same bullshit for a hundred years. We still haven't gotten past "women are too emotional" and "doing things is unfeminine" as the primary arguments. It's like arguing with aforementioned little boy, except if he were somehow being taken seriously or even winning with his bizarre non-sequiturs.
posted by Scattercat at 5:44 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

...and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. ---Abigail Adams to John, 1776.

5 reasons why men shouldn't vote, from 1915.
posted by brujita at 6:22 AM on October 28, 2016 [14 favorites]

That "Election Day" postcard -- like if the woman of the house went out to vote that one day the entire household would fall into disarray? Oh holy shit, the man is having to hold his own damn baby.

I am just so over all of it. A hundred years later and it's the same bullshit.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:36 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

And there's even an Abe Lincoln meme. The more things change, indeed.
posted by clawsoon at 6:55 AM on October 28, 2016

With electoral maps showing the 2016 outcome of only men voted, I'd never been more thankful for women's suffrage. The same maps showing if only whites were allowed the vote made me doubly thankful of universal suffrage.
posted by codacorolla at 7:08 AM on October 28, 2016 [6 favorites]

That Lincoln statue is in Lincoln Park in Chicago and shame on the Atlantic for not doing the research I did by happening to know that
posted by beerperson at 7:13 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Awhile back on my blog, I looked at predictions of the future from the perspective of those in 1899/1900 predicting the coming 20th century.

I got around to an article of Women of the Future penned by various members of the women's rights movement including Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Their predictions were boring, along the lines of: women will make great progress in the 20th century.

In contrast, the predictions from men were things like: hypnotism will allow us to communicate with the dead and transcontinental flights will end with the passengers parachuting to the ground.

There's a lesson to be had.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:17 AM on October 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

It may be time for a 'Warning Link to Irritating Atlantic Site' label.
posted by Bee'sWing at 9:33 AM on October 28, 2016

Evidently needless explanation by men knows no era!
posted by theraflu at 10:09 AM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

What a great collection of images!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:10 AM on October 28, 2016

Interesting to compare the methods of communication of 100 years ago and now. Was intrigured by the statement: "it was common for people to display albums filled with postcards in their homes in the early 20th century."

See also the late Alison Piepmeier's book Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism where she compared the annotation of mainstream news media sources by suffragettes making scrapbooks with riot grrrls making zines.

See also this recent call for papers: Feminist Connections: Rhetorical Strategies from the Suffragists to the Cyberfeminists
posted by larrybob at 10:48 AM on October 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

Secret Sparrow, they DO SO have free fudge. Look at the signs on the bowls above the "Free Lunch" sign.

Serenity is restored to the universe.
posted by ostro at 12:22 PM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

*gasp* You're right! Clearly the people making up the lunch menu knew what they were doing!
posted by Secret Sparrow at 12:57 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Serenity is restored to the universe.

Thank heavens, I thought for a moment that all that was good and proper in the world had been overthrown.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:55 PM on October 28, 2016

If I may point out an FPP of my own devising, here's the board game Suffragetto. Including links to print-and-play. A possible pastime for election night....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:00 PM on October 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

Nice! I particularly liked this one from 1920:
A friend on twitter pointed out the immediately attainable "Arts * Crafts * Science" rung the other day. It's a great combination, though not one I'd expect to see in 1920. (Or, for that matter, 2016.)

In many other ways, it's a surprising ordering. "Church and charities" is a higher step than "school affairs" or "business affairs?" "Notary public" is far above either "public office" or "government office?" There's a great deal about the cartoon that I don't understand. (Though I still think it's great. As is the whole article.)
posted by eotvos at 3:53 PM on October 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

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