Remarkably telling anti-suffragette silent film, dating from around 1912, depicts the shape of things to come once women have won the vote. Thanks to loyal and esteemed reader Eric for finding this treasure :
Excerpt from ‘Votes for Women’ (Paula Bartley) Hodder Education
The Contagious Diseases Act & The Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a number of women were dismayed by the sexual double standard whereby women had to remain virginal before marriage and faithful inside it. On the other hand, a blind eye was turned if men had sex with more than one partner. One of women’s greatest victories was the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts (CDAs). These Acts, the first of which had been passed in 1864, allowed police in a number of garrison towns and naval ports the right to arrest women suspected of being common prostitutes and require them to be medically examined for sexually transmitted diseases. If found infected, women could be detained for treatment. This, according to feminists, was unfair, because it blamed prostitutes for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, not the men who used their services. Under the leadership of Josephine Butler, the Ladies’ National Association led a campaign to repeal these acts and eventually succeeded 22 years after they had been passed.
The success of this campaign prompted feminists to launch a crusade against the sexual exploitation of young girls. In 1885 they achieved a victory when the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which raised the age of sexual consent to 16, was passed. Feminists and others founded the National Vigilance Association to ensure that this act was put into practice and to promote equal high moral standards between the sexes. Edwardian feminists, such as Christabel Pankhurst, took up the social purity cause and demanded that men improve their moral code by remaining chaste outside marriage. Although feminists achieved a small victory in repealing CDAs, the campaign to raise moral standards can be considered to have failed miserably. Today sex before marriage is accepted by the majority of people living in Britain, a fact that would have dismayed these early reformers.
The Suffragettes and Sexual Morality
Until the work of feminist historians in the 1970’s, most history texts ignored the emphasis placed on sex and morality by the suffragists and suffragettes. The few historians who did mention it ridiculed the suffragettes. For instance, the suffragette slogan ‘Votes for Women and Chastity for Men‘ is seen as an amusing peculiarity by George Dangerfield in the 1930’s and Roger Fulford in the 1950’s and as an example of spinsterish eccentricity by Andrew Rosen in the 1970s. However, the relationship between sexuality and the vote has enjoyed a long history in the annals of women’s suffrage. Both the suffragists and the suffragettes placed women’s franchise within the wider context of sexual politics and took the question of sexuality very earnestly indeed. For some suffrage campaigners such as Millicent Fawcett and Christabel Pankhurst the vote was as much about improving men’s sexual morality as it was about improving women’s working conditions.
1756 Lydia Chapin Taft voted in three New England town meetings, beginning in 1756, at Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
1776 Declaration of Independence. Men were not allowed to vote unless they owned property. By 1850 nearly all requirements to own property or pay taxes had been dropped. (Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (2nd ed. 2009) p 29)
1776 New Jersey gives the vote to women owning more than $250. (source) Other states and territories followed.
1800 “Suffrage: This term means the right to vote. The history of suffrage in the United States is about the removal of various limitations on voting for citizens. In the Colonial era church membership (in early New England) and property qualifications limited suffrage, and it was considered a privilege rather than a right, as it is today. Some colonies disfranchised males owning less than 50 acres in land, Jews, free blacks, Catholics, and dissenting Protestants until around 1700. It was not until after the American Revolution, however, that states began removing property qualifications on white males for voting. In 1800, five states allowed male taxpayers to vote for most offices. Still, over half the adult population was excluded from voting when the new nation moved into the nineteenth century: property-less men, women, the enslaved, most free blacks, apprentices, indentured laborers, felons, and those mentally incompetent.” (from The History of the Supreme Court)
1865 The American Civil War resulted in the deaths of an estimated 750,000 men (source) According to the 1860 Census, there were 13,849,087 white men and 13,115,843 white women in the United States and territories in 1860. (source) If the vast majority of men who fought in the Civil War were white then more than 5% of white American men died in the Civil War. In 1860 there were 733,244 more white men than white women in the United States. This suggests the entire excess of white men died in the Civil war.
1873 Founding of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the oldest feminist organization. According to the WCTU website, “The WCTU was organized by women who were concerned about the destructive power of alcohol and the problems it was causing their families and society.” “The WCTU was very interested in a number of social reform issues, including labor, prostitution … The first president of the organization, Annie Wittenmyer, believed … that it should not put efforts into woman suffrage” (wikipedia) The WCTU’s second president, Frances Willard, perhaps the most famous feminist of the 19th Century, argued that women were “the superior sex” (wikipedia). “In the U.S., leaders of the feminist movement campaigned for the abolition of slavery and Temperance [prohibition of alcohol] prior to championing women’s rights.” (wikipedia) Suffrage (voting) was not a WCTU priority because, at the state level where American political power was concentrated, many women already had the right to vote.
1910 WCTU feminists successfully lobbied Congress to pass the Mann Act, prohibiting prostitution. Naturally, this did not stop women from marrying men with money and avoiding men without money.
1913 Congress passed the Sixteenth Amendment, giving federal government the power to collect income taxes and reflecting a gradual shift of political power from state governments (many of which allowed both men and women to vote) to the federal government.
1913 Congress passed the Seventeenth Amendment, removing the power of state legislatures to elect senators and reflecting further shift of political power from state governments (many of which allowed both men and women to vote) to the federal government. Note that the ability of women to vote at the federal level became more important as political power shifted from the states to the federal government.
1919 WCTU feminists successfully lobbied Congress to pass the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting alcohol. It was repealed in 1933.
1920 Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote. Since women already had the right to vote in many states, the main effect of this amendment was to allow women more influence over the relatively small federal government. The federal government at the time was a tiny fraction of its current size.
1947 “the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) voted to draft and promote a bill that would embody the ideal of no-fault divorce” and “The most prominent advocate of this position was feminist law professor Herma Hill Kay” (wikipedia)
1965 Voting extended to all adult citizens (except some felons) of the United States (Voting Rights Act of 1965)
1969 California becomes the first state to enact no-fault divorce. Other states follow.
2012 More than half of marriages now end in divorce and millions of children are deprived of the opportunity to know their own fathers.
A collection of cartoons and posters mocking the suffragette campaigns for votes for women :
Suffragette Plain Things
Suffragettes Who Have Never Been Kissed c.1910 UK
Origin and Development of a Suffragette
When Women Wear Pants, c.1915 USA
We Want the Vote 1910 UK
Woman’s Rights 1910 USA
Did I Save My Country For This?
Flapper 1925 USA anti-feminist postcard
We Don’t Know What We Want But We’ll Get It
Anti-Suffrage postcard, unknown date
Nobody Loves Me
Home for Lost, Stolen or Strayed Suffragettes
The Suffragette. “I told you so.” [Postcard]
Copyright 1909, by Walter Wellman
The poster reads:
“The Morning Suffragette Bulletin.
A New Era of Prosperity at Hand.
With the news that a suffragette has been elected as our next presidentess, several flatiron and rolling pin factories have resumed on full time.
It is stated that 10,000,000 faltirons have been ordered by the new War Department alone.”
“If you will only marry me you can have all woman’s rights
Such as staying up on evenings when I’m out late at nights
And should such things not satisfy the longings of your soul
You can wash up all the dishes and carry all the coal
As a really model husband I feel I’m bound to shine
So say that you take me to be Your Valentine”
A Procession of Suffragettes
Suffragists On The War Path
Suffragettes Attacking House of Commons
Call of the Wild
The Wild Rose
What I Would Do With The Suffragists
Images of the suffragettes reveal that early feminists looked much like their third wave modern variety – plain or downright ugly. This will come as no surprise to those students of the history of feminism who understand that ‘the women’s movement’ has always been driven by the gradual (and sometimes sudden) loss of female sexual power since the Industrial Revolution, modern capitalism, and mass urbanisation. The first wave of feminists were motivated by much the same thing as their 21st century counterparts – fighting against the fact that one is an unattractive loser in a free sexual market. The vote was seen as merely a means of controlling male sexuality and social morals, and was a continuation of the Victorian ‘Social Purity Movement‘ that sought to abolish prositution and raise the age of consent.
In particular, the suffragettes were responding to the loosening of sexual morals brought about by Industrialisation and the move from the countryside to the city – social upheavals that brought in their wake such threats as prostitutes, later marrying ages for girls (and thus more available single girls), and more reliable and cheaper forms of male contraception (condoms). Likewise, in our own age, feminists are taking ever greater control over governments and societies throughout the world because of globalisation and its many threats to female sexual power – from cheap Polish prostitutes to jailbait webcam teens stripping in their bedrooms. In a free sexual market, ugly women are the greatest losers. Feminism is the political process of forcibly transferring sexual power from the young and beautiful to the old and ugly (female).
A feminist has responded to these images, and my characterisation of the early feminists as being notable for their physcial ugliness by claiming that ‘everybody’ was unattractive back then. Take a look at the following pictures of Edwardian stage actresses and early silent film stars of the 1910’s and 20’s, and see if you agree.
Feminism exists as a defender of the selfish sexual and reproductive interests of aging and/or unattractive women. This is its entire raison d’etre, the reason it first came into existence with the social purity movement reformers of the 19th century, led by their harridan battle cry – ‘armed with the ballot the mothers of America will legislate morality’.
And legislate morality these pioneering feminists quickly did, even before they had won the vote. That is, they successfully lobbied for restrictions on prostitution, a rise in the age of consent from 12 to 16, or even 18, and the closing down of saloons where their husbands might mix freely with unattached young women.
To feminists, and indeed, to the vast majority of the female sex who give feminists the power to speak on their behalf, morality is little more than ensuring the reproductive and sexual interests of a post-peak fertility female who relies on heavy parental investment from a committed male partner. The extent of female desire for involvement in the political process is directly proportionate to the threat that women feel in a free sexual market.
And as that threat grows, so the ostensible power of feminism grows.
The history of feminism is the history of a female sexual trade union, growing in political power in exact correspondence with the steady loss of female sexual power caused by the continual widening of the sexual market. The opening up of the sex market, the ever increasing opportunities for men to gain access to cheap and anonymous sex, is the result of constantly emerging new technology, and itself completely out of the hands of feminists, or anybody else, to control or put a stop to.
Recently, W.F.Price at the Spearhead revealed that proto-feminists were lobbying the British government as far back as the 17th century when their sexual interests were seen as threatened by the emergence of male frequented coffee houses. This was a prelude to the social purity movements of the 19th century, described above, which feminist academics have always acknowledged as the birth pangs of the campaign for the vote.
But the vote was always seen as a means to the end of controlling male sexuality. Industrialisation had brought men out of the countryside and into the cities, working in close contact with women and girls in the new factories – girls who were no longer married off as soon as they reached puberty. Those same factories mass produced cheap condoms (bitterly opposed by feminists at the time), and men no longer had to fear syphilis – and could now enjoy the hundreds of thousands of prostitutes who flocked to the new cities to take their share of the working man’s growing income.
The suffragettes achieved the vote as a result of violence and of male Enlightenment thinking which saw women’s enfranchisement as a natural progression of other civil rights movements.
But in fact, women did not exercise their newly won franchise very differently then their husbands, and when they did vote differently, it was to vote in fascist dictatorships throughout Europe. It was not until the 1960′s, and the second wave of feminism, that women began voting significantly differently from men…
The 1960′s saw the beginning of possibly the most remarkable event in human history – the end of ‘patriarchy.’ Within the space of a generation, a social system that had endured in every corner of the globe throughout recorded history had more or less crumbled.
In every corner of the globe…except the Islamic world.
In his book The Decline of the Male, anthropologist Lionel Tiger identifies the introduction of the contraceptive pill as the trigger for this unparalleled social revolution, the ‘second wave of feminism.’ For Lionel Tiger, the pill shifted reproductive power from men to women, for men could no longer be sure as to the paternity of their offspring.
I don’t accept all of the details of Tiger’s thesis, but I agree wholeheartedly that the pill was a catalyst for the second wave of feminism
An unforeseen technological innovation had revolutionised sexual relations and, in a blind and uncontrollable way, had transformed society almost overnight.
According to most feminist thinkers (and many MRAs), the pill gave women power over men. I disagree. In fact, it was male sexuality that was liberated by the pill, and women – or at least older/unattractive women – were left dangerously exposed in the free sexual market that had suddenly been created.
Suddenly, women became active in politics. Suddenly, women demanded (and won) the right to university education, to a career, to easy divorce, to an abortion. Suddenly male politicians had to legislate according to the female vote.
The pill did not give women power over men.
The pill forced women to take power from men.
But, of course, this did not happen in the majority of Muslim societies. Under Islam, there is still no free sexual market, and thus unattractive Muslim women have no need for feminism.
The astonishing and sudden representation of women at all levels of government over the last decade may fairly be described as the Third Wave of Feminism. In just one or two decades, from having virtually zero representation in high government, the female sex has come to near dominate many of the leading democracies of the West, even in South America.
Alongside formal governmental representation, largely female dominated non-governmental pressure groups have suddenly come to hold massive sway over an increasingly powerful United Nations, as well as other international bodies such as the European Union.
Why has this astonishing Third Wave, no less extraordinary than the Second, suddenly come about? That this is the first generation of women raised as feminists no doubt has played a part but it cannot alone explain the sheer rapidity of change. Like the first and second waves of feminism, the third has been propelled by technological progress threatening the sexual interests of ordinary women.
The globalisation of society and of communications has threatened to further open up the free sexual market to an extent as great as the pill itself did.
Suddenly men had before them a whole new array of alternatives to a ‘real’ sexual relationship, from the cheap Polish hooker at the street corner, to the nubile young slut showing herself on cam from her bedroom half way across the world.
This was a brave new sexual world that an already politicised generation of middle-aged women could not tolerate for long…and certainly not entrust to men to control or put an end to.
The Future of Feminism
The future of feminism will be dictated by the same forces that have shaped its history – blind and largely uncontrollable economic and technological changes continuing to widen the free sexual market.
The further increase in mass global communications, advances in robotics, 3D and holographic porn, virtual sex, and the growing realism and popularity of male sex toys, are all rapidly coalescing into a perfect storm that will either achieve sexual and emotional independence for men…or a fourth wave of feminism even more terrible and damaging than the rest.
Local news report brings the infamous white feather campaign of the First World War to life :