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October 1914

Meditations on Votes for Women
by Samuel McChord Crothers

Few subjects have of late been more vehemently debated than the extension of the right of suffrage to women …

Heretofore this has been a man’s world arranged for his convenience. Now Woman has appeared, open-eyed and armed, and all things are to be changed. Religion, the State, the Family, are to be reorganized according to a strictly feministic plan. If the ultimatum is not at once accepted we may look for that dreadful catastrophe, a sex war.

No wonder that the honest citizen awakened by the loud cry is not in the best of humor. And when he is called opprobrious names, like Victorian and early-Victorian, he is inclined to be surly. It is all so sudden. It appears that all the ideals of womanhood that he has revered are to be overturned and trodden under foot by cohorts of Amazons shouting, “Down with the Home” …

The essential thing is that many women are becoming conscious of what some women have always felt, that some of the limitations which have been accepted as natural are in reality only conventional, and so can be removed …

During the last generation some things took place which were really revolutionary. The entrance of women into the colleges and universities, and into business and the professions, marked an advance of great importance. This was a new departure, at least in our modern world. Those who believed in a definite “sphere” for women had reason to be alarmed at this new departure. It involved many social changes. But these changes did not involve political action, and so were quietly acquiesced in.

Now that the revolution has taken place, multitudes of educated women are in influential positions, moulding public sentiment and directing large institutions. All the functions of citizenship they actually exercise except that of voting at certain elections. We no longer find anything amusing in the term “strong-minded” applied to a woman. What are colleges for if not to strengthen the mind!

And when our daughters come back from school and college, where their minds have been strengthened and broadened by modern discipline, they naturally seek to use the power they have acquired. Why not?

Volume 114, No. 4, pp. 538–546

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