"Men are too emotional to vote."
When was the last time you heard that critique? Indeed, in an era plagued by the continuing "war on women" and the ridiculous assertion that women should stick to online dating rather than the electoral college, it's nice to see men subjected to the same ridicule, for a change.
But while online media has been known to flip the script in order to expose double standards, this satire was written over one hundred years ago. It's telling that after more than a century of advocacy on the part of the women's suffrage movement, the same types of stereotypes that were lampooned by our feminist foremothers continue to hinder equality movements today.
This Election Day, restrictive voter ID laws notwithstanding, we all have a constitutional right to cast our ballots. But, historically this wasn't always the case; blacks, non-property holders and women were kept away from the polls for years.
The women's suffrage movement took decades, with women championing both sides of the argument. It may be hard to believe, but the founder and leader of the National Association Opposed to Women's Suffrage was a woman, Josephine Dodge.
To demonstrate the association's hard line against suffrage, Dodge published "Some Reasons Why We Oppose Votes For Women" in 1894, which included such gems as, "Because the ballot has not proved a cure-all for existing evils with men, and we find no reason to assume that it would be more effectual with women," and "Because the woman suffrage movement is a backward step in the progress of civilization."
Luckily for future generations of women, Dodge wasn't the only woman with a strong opinion and a capacity for publishing. Enter Alice Duer Miller, journalist and activist, who used her pen as a mighty satirical sword. Years after Dodge published her document espousing political inequality, Miller wrote and circulated a brilliant response in 1915 titled, "Why We Oppose Votes for Men":
1. Because men's place is in the army.
2. Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
3. Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them
4. Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms and drums.
5. Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them peculiarly unfit for the task of government.
Miller's use of parallel logic to distort the gender norms of her day isn't just a refreshing twist on sexism, it's savvy. Not to mention it destroys the stereotype that feminists are an angry, humorless bunch.