The womenly women of New Zealand
September 18, 2018 3:53 PM   Subscribe

New Zealand women won the right to vote on 19 September 1893 - 125 years ago today*. In doing so, New Zealand became the "first self-governing colony in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections." Join us to celebrate Suffrage 125: Women, the Vote, and Activism

An Appeal to the Men of New Zealand (1869)
"The change is coming, but why is New Zealand only to follow? Why not take the initiative? She has but to inaugurate this new position, all will applaud. 'One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.' It will be the spark to the train now laid in most civilised countries."

Questions for Polly Plum (1871)
"The right, as thinking, reasoning beings, to decide for themselves what is best for their own happiness. If they were satisfied with man's decision, this agitation for change would not be."

Kate Sheppard: Ten reasons why the women of New Zealand should vote (1888)
"Because the admitted physical weakness of women disposes them to exercise more habitual caution, and to feel a deeper interest in the constant preservation of peace, law, and order, and especially in the supremacy of right over might."

Meri Mangakāhia addresses the Māori parliament (1893)
"E whakamoemiti atu ana ahau kinga honore mema e noho nei, kia ora koutou katoa, ko te take i motini atu ai ahau, ki te Tumuaki Honore, me nga mema honore, ka mahia he ture e tenei whare kia whakamana nga wahine ki te pooti mema mo ratou ki te Paremata Maori."
"I move this motion before the principle member and all honourable members so that a law may emerge from this parliament allowing women to vote and women to be accepted as members of the parliament."

The Year of the Monster (1893)
"The 1893 petition was, in the words of its main organiser Kate Sheppard, 'a monster'. Combined with a number of smaller petitions, it had nearly 32,000 signatures representing almost a quarter of all adult women in the country."

The vote and the election (1893)
"In 1891, 1892 and 1893 women’s suffrage bills comfortably passed the House of Representatives (the lower house). On the first two occasions they were defeated in the Legislative Council (the upper house). In 1893 Seddon tried to ensure the same result by lobbying councillors, but his meddling backfired. Two councillors changed their votes to embarrass the premier and on 8 September the upper house passed the Electoral Bill by 20 votes to 18."
"When the governor signed the law on 19 September, suffragists celebrated a famous victory and congratulations poured in from around the world. It was only six weeks until registration closed for the 28 November election, but 109,461 women, or about 84% of those eligible, enrolled to vote. On polling day 90,290 of them (plus perhaps 4,000 Māori) voted – two out of every three adult women in the country."

The backlash: a contemporary editorial on "The day NZ's 'shrieking sisterhood' forced the vote on 'womenly women'" (1893)
"All this might have been avoided had Ministers only had the courage to take a manly and independent stand."

Many of the above links are taken from Women's Suffrage Milestones

Previously on Metafilter: Three women recall their first vote in the NZ election of 1893

Suffrage 125 events and celebrations (2018)

*It is currently September 19 in New Zealand.
posted by Paragon (8 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
The post title, by the way, comes from that ridiculous contemporary editorial. In context:
We believe that a very large number of women do not desire to vote. They shrink from having to go to the polling booths on election days. They would much prefer staying at home and attending to their household duties. [...] But the right of voting has been forced upon them against their wishes. They must now realise that if they refrain from exercising their newly acquired privileges, others will not. The noisy agitators, the advocates of fads, and the "advanced" women generally, will not be so retiring. If then, the womenly women of New Zealand desire to counteract these influences they can only do so in one way. They must take part in the elections. They, too, must study public questions, and seek to make their influence felt. We admit frankly that it is unfair to the great majority of women to force this duty upon them. But it cannot now be helped.
posted by Paragon at 4:39 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]


The logic of that editorial is... amazing? Starting with the premise that women should never have gotten the vote, it concludes that all women must vote.

If I were reading that on Fark or Reddit today, I would be certain that it was written by an expert troll.
posted by clawsoon at 4:52 PM on September 18 [3 favorites]


It’s interesting that the anti-woman woman has existed forever. Maureen Dowd it seems is a type that has always been with us.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:11 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


Until (US) women occupy 51 senate seats, 270 congress seats, 6 supreme justice slots, 1/2 the cabinet, and the presidency, the madness will continue
posted by growabrain at 5:22 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]


There is also a great article in the NZ national newspaper, featuring 3 female Prime Ministers (2 previous and the current)..
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 5:32 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


Just came in to mention the Kate Sheppard Pedestrian lights, which are awesome.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 8:35 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]


I think it will continue long past parity in any field.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:15 AM on September 19


On Radio New Zealand this morning: ‘Throw this female franchise out’—~14min audio, transcript, and photos related to some of the obstacles continually placed in the way of womens' participation in democracy after the vote was won
posted by XMLicious at 3:59 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]


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