The Arguments for Anti Suffragism
The National Association Opposed to Women's Suffrage put out several documents concerning the reasons that suffrage for women was bad. In "Why We Oppose Votes for Women," several of these reasons are addressed. The reasons are as follows:
- "because suffrage is not a privilege to be enjoyed, but if imposed upon women it becomes a duty to be performed."
- "because we believe the men of the state capable of conducting the government for the benefit of both men and women; their interests, generally speaking, being the same."
- "because women are not suffering from any injustice which giving them the ballot would rectify."
- "because political equality will eventually deprive women of many special privileges hitherto accorded to her by man-made law."
- "because the ballot in the hands of men has not proved a cure-all for existing evils, and there is no reason to believe it would be more effectual in the hands of women. It has not been in the states where it exists. In Colorado after a test of twenty-two years the results show no gain in public and political morals over male suffrage states."
- "because quality in character does not imply similarity in function, and the duties and life of men and women should be different in the State, as in the home. Man's service to the State through government is counterbalanced by women's service in the home."
- because women now stand outside politics , and therefore are free to appeal to any party in matters of education, charity and reform. We believe it would be to the disadvantage of the State and of women to put this non-partisam half of society into politics."
- because the woman suffrage movement is a backward step in the progress of civilization, in that it seeks to efface natural differentiation of function, and to produce identity instead of division of labor."
Anti Suffrage Answers
The anti suffragists put out a document in response to the reasons for the suffragists' campaign. For every argument the suffragist campaign put out, the Antis countered it. Some of the reasons listed on this document for the support of anti suffrage include:
- Men pay taxes and they can be considered the representation for women. This is the counter point to the suffrage argument of "taxation without representation is tyranny."
- Women are citizens of the United States, not matter if they have the vote or not.
- Suffragists are the only group who place women and disenfranchised criminals in the same group. This is not the case. Women have never had the vote, so they cannot be equated to a disenfranchised class.
- Women are not needed in the fight for children's welfare because adequate laws have already been passed.
- Women do not need to vote to pass fair working laws, for some of the best and most effective laws have been passed in the areas where work is dominated by women.
- Sex is a distinction imposed by nature. The issues of government are to be left to men.
A Moral Argument
Most of the anti suffragists' reasons for their campaign were moral, whereas some were practical in the eyes of the Antis. The anti suffragists were concerned that giving women the vote would be injurious to their moral character. Antis believed that the family, as opposed to the individual, was the most important value. They believed that the family was to be represented by one head, the male. "The male of the family must be that representative, because government is primarily the guarantee of protection to life and property and rests upon the political strength of the majority." They believed that it was individualists were the causes of the evils in society. If women were to get the right to vote and become involved in politics, they would leave behind their place in their homes and as the caretakers of their families. If women were to obtain the vote, the Antis argued, they would be on street corners instead of in homes. Obtaining the vote would give them nothing. It would not help them morally, but hurt them. They argued it was a step backwards in the history of America, because it advocated for the individual as opposed to the family. They had no time to be accurately informed on issues of politics because their role was in the home. Also, it was their job to mold the minds of their sons- America's future voters. Because it was the women who instilled particular views into their sons, it was as if they already had the vote. They argued men were influenced by the women in their lives and it was counter productive to simply double the vote, as it would be the same as the vote of the men. In the political cartoons below, this point is exhibited. The first shows a working man coming home and comforting his deserted daughters, because women have the vote, the man's wife is not there to take care of him and her children. This illustrates the argument of the Antis because it shows their fears that families would be abandoned if women got the vote. The second illustration shows the things women neglect in their pursuit of political power.