The War on Women, Waged in Postcards

It took 80 years of protests and campaigning before women achieved the right to vote in the United States, and it finally happened in 1920. That was less than 100 years ago! Along the way, the anti-suffrage movement used some nasty and ridiculous arguments to deny women the vote, a lot of which is enshrined in printed material, such as political postcards popular in the the early 20th century. June Purvis, a professor of women’s and gender history at the University of Porstmouth, talks about the suffrage movement and the propaganda postcards that flew through the mail.  

The messages you find on anti-suffrage postcards from the 1910s are not dissimilar from what you might hear from Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly today in the 2010s. Suffragettes were drawn as conniving coquettes, ugly, mean spinsters or, worse, ugly, mean wives who left their families helpless as they attended town-hall meetings. Scenes of women politicians showed them hatching diabolical plots to undermine and emasculate men further. In England, particularly offensive cards took sadomasochistic delight in the force-feeding, while sympathetic cards depicted women as beat-up cats, referring to the Cat and Mouse Act.

“Suffragettes were depicted nagging wives, that was a common one, and the wife was always big, and the husband tiny and puny,” Purvis says. “Or they were depicted as very ugly women with big feet, protruding teeth, hair pulled back in a bun, and glasses. They were depicted as quite mannish and unattractive so that no man would want to marry them.”

It is estimated that there were 4500 different anti-suffrage postcard designs! See more and read about the fight for the right to vote -plus how the current political atmosphere recalls those days, at Collector's Weekly. Link


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@Ted

You're absolutely right. There are and always will be kooks on both sides, but that in no way implies that the sides are equal, or that they deserve criticism equally.

Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, etc. used to be far, far right. "Shock jocks," if you will. Now they are actually a fair representation of the right's ideological platform (not the electorate - the platform). Why would this article criticize left-wingers when equal rights movements typically arise from the left? The political right has become such a caricature that it's about as laughable as the picture in this article (which you don't seem to find offensive?).

Who is the left-wing Sarah Palin? Who is the left-wing Limbaugh? Michele Bachmann? Rand Paul? Rick Perry? These are not off-the-wall "rogue" characters. These are people who can earnestly claim that man walked with dinosaurs at the time of earth's creation 6,000 years ago, that God won't let us run out of oil, etc.... and still have the full, unapologetic backing of their party.

THAT'S the difference. If one side of the aisle has more visible kooks, it will draw more criticism. Plain and simple.
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