I’ve always found it eerie how the the arguments in defense of sexism never get stale. Thanks to Ed Brayton I stumbled on this article about the last time the United States denied women the vote. Right off the bat, we get the separate-but-equal line:
Women; have they a mission? Yes; it is to rule in the world of love and affection—in the home. It is not to rule in the State. They have a function to perform which precludes the latter sort of rule. Man is king of this universe; woman is queen. The queen rules when the king is dead, or becomes a mollycoddle, and the American man is not that yet.
Then bogus appeals to science, with a little benevolent sexism tossed in:
“The women of this smart Capital are beautiful,” said Ohio Democrat Rep. Stanley Bowdle, “indeed, their beauty is positively disturbing to business, but they are not interested in politics…” Bowdle, whose “lovely, loyal wife” and “beautiful, devoted sister” had pleaded the case for suffrage, conducted his own social experiment to reach this judgment. He counted the number of women he observed reading newspapers on street cars over several days and found the number lacking.
“It is thus evident that women generally are not interested in politics …
And then a lot:
Were it not for shattering an ideal, were it not for dethroning her from that high pedestal upon which we are accustomed to place her, and dragging her down to the level of us beastly men, I believe I might even today be willing to vote for universal woman suffrage.
There’s a lot more to that article, but it reminded me of my favorite example of this in action: anti-suffrage postcards. The featured image hints that suffragettes were just ugly, under-sexed women, but other postcards weren’t nearly that subtle:
They also promoted the idea that suffragettes are just out to steal men’s money:
That as tyrants, they want to exclude men:
Or sometimes, just attack them:
The ideas never change, the goal posts are just moved as social justice marches forward.