Saturday, October 03, 2009

“the question flies entirely outside the domain of reason”

“In the United States … we need no longer argue woman’s intellectual, moral and physical qualification for the ballot with the intelligent. The Reason of the best of our citizens has been convinced. The justice of the argument has been admitted … When a great church official exclaims petulantly, that if women are no more modest in their demands men may be obliged to take to drowning female infants again; when a renowned United States Senator declares no human being can find an answer to the argument for woman suffrage, but with all the force of his position and influence he will oppose it; when a popular woman novelist speaks of the advocates of the movement as the ‘shrieking sisterhood’; when a prominent politician says ‘to argue against woman suffrage is to repudiate the Declaration of Independence,’ yet he hopes it may never come, the question flies entirely outside the domain of reason, and retreats within the realm of sex-prejudice, where neither logic nor common sense can dislodge it …”

Another installment of Things Never Change? Yeah, okay, women got the vote – eighteen years after this speech by Carrie Chapman Catt was given in 1902. Eighteen years? Eighteen years after the argument was no longer “with the intelligent” and “Reason [had] been convinced”?

The rhetoric is about the same; ‘same sex marriage’, for example, could be switched out for ‘woman suffrage’ and readers would assume the writing was contemporary. Not that there aren’t plenty even now who wish women didn’t have the vote.

source: The American Reader, edited by Diane Ravitch

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