Friday, August 08, 2008

"If Men Were Seeking the Franchise"

Jane Addams’ “If Men Were Seeking the Franchise” from Ladies’ Home Journal (June 1913) is one of the best pieces we have read so far.

It is a wonderfully satire on the women suffrage movement. I read it last night and was giggling the entire time. Her satire and cuts at the male dominated society are that great.

I can’t wait to use this in class next year.

Addams’ has a brilliant knack for turning the tables on her opponents. The main point of her article is to suppose what would happen if women ran things rather than men. Through this she expertly reveals all of the ludicrous and vile practices of the dominant male culture.

Here is one of my favorite quotes –

On their fascination with war and spending:

“Every time a gun is fired in a battleship it extends, or rather explodes, seventeen hundred dollars, as much a college education costs many a country boy, and yet you would be firing off these guns as mere salutes, with no enemy within three thousand miles, simply because you so enjoy the sound of shooting.”

On the need for safe practices on farms and health laws in industries:

“We have also heard that in certain States, in order to save the paltry price of a guard which would protect a dangerous machine, men legislators allow careless boys and girls to lose their fingers and sometimes their hands, thereby crippling their entire futures.”

“. . . that the average loss of life among the structural-iron workers who erect the huge office buildings and bridges is as disastrous in percentages as was the loss of life in the Battle of Bull Run. When the returns of this battle were reported to President Lincoln he burst into tears of sorrow and chagrin”

On the double standard regarding prostitution and corruption of young girls:

“The men whose money sustains their houses, supplies their tawdry clothing and provides them with intoxicating drinks and drugs, are never arrested, nor indeed are they even considered lawbreakers.”

When reading this, I can’t help but think of two of the strongest females I have ever met, my grandmother and my wife.

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