Somewhere along the way, the idea of a woman being elected president of the United States started to seem inevitable.
The question was no longer if, but when it would happen.
In the United States, such prognostications became a favorite topic of debate in the early 20th century as women fought for the right to vote. And although headlines at the time screamed about the imminent “danger of a woman becoming president of the United States,” imagining the first woman president often meant exploring the contours of life in some far-off future that would be unrecognizable in several ways. After all, the new national obsession with a hypothetical female chief executive brought politics into a realm long dominated by technological thinkers: futurism. While some people predicted that a woman in office would stifle industrial progress, others envisioned technology and gender equality marching forward in tandem.
Perhaps a woman would be elected president in the era of “electric wings,” a wearable device that would circumnavigate the Earth in five minutes and drop you off at your preferred destination almost instantly, as one 1892 advertisement predicted for the year 1992. Or maybe the first woman would be inaugurated president much sooner, by 1928, and celebrations would involve women navigating giant zeppelins over Washington, D.C., with suffragists parachuting down from above then riding in new-fangled automobiles on the streets.
By the year 1975, a Los Angeles Times humorist declared in 1928, airships would dominate the skies, miniskirts would be in fashion, and the United States would be transformed into a wholly matriarchal society. “By that time,” Harry Carr wrote, “there will doubtless be a lady President of the United States with a lady Cabinet and a lady Senate. Men will have been relegated to the status of other domestic animals.”