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Arguments for and Against Suffrage
A pair of documents that present competing arguments for and against women gaining the right to vote.
|WOMEN IN THE HOME
We are forever being told that the place for women is in the HOME. Well, so be it. But what do we expect of her in the home? Merely to stay in the home is not enough. She is a failure unless she attends to the health and welfare, moral as well as physical, of her family, and especially of her children. She, more than anyone else, is held responsible for what they become.SHE is responsible for the cleanliness of her house.
SHE is responsible for the wholesomeness of the food.
SHE is responsible for the children’s health.
SHE, above all, is responsible for their morals.
How Far Can the Mother Control These Things?
|Women are in charge of the home. This includes cleaning the house, serving healthy food, keeping the children healthy, and serving as a moral example.|
|She can clean her own rooms, BUT if the neighbors are allowed to live in filth, she cannot keep her rooms from being filled with bad air and smells, or from being infested with vermin.||A woman cannot keep her house clean if her neighbors and neighborhood are dirty.|
|She can book her food well, BUT if dealers are permitted to sell poor food, unclean milk or stale eggs, she cannot make the food wholesome for her children.||A woman cannot serve healthy food if the food for sale is bad or rotten.|
|She can care for her own plumbing and refuse, BUT if the plumbing in the rest of the house is unsanitary, if garbage accumulates and the halls and stairs are left dirty, she cannot protect her children from the sickness and infection resulting.||A woman can take care of her own garbage, but she cannot keep her family safe if her street and building are filled with the garbage.|
|She can take every care to avoid fire, BUT if the house has been badly built, if the fire-escapes are inadequate, she cannot guard her children from the horrors of being maimed or killed by fire.||A woman can avoid fire in the home, but she cannot keep her children safe if buildings and fire escapes are not strong.|
|She can open her windows to give her children the air that we are told is so necessary, BUT if the air is laden with infection, with tuberculosis and other contagious diseases, she cannot protect her children from this danger.||A woman can open windows to give her children fresh air, but they will get sick if the air is filled with disease.|
|She can send her children out for air and exercise, BUT if the conditions that surround them on the streets are immoral and degrading, she cannot protect them from these dangers.||A woman can allow her children to play outside, but they will be in danger if there are immoral people around.|
|Alone, she cannot make these things right. Who or what can?||A woman cannot address the issues above.|
|The city can do it—the city government that is elected by the people to take care of the interests of the people.
And who decides what the city government shall do?
|The city can address the issues above, but who controls the city?|
|FIRST, the officials of that government; and, SECOND, those who elect them.
Do the women elect them? NO, the men do.
|The city officials and the voters who elect city officials are men.|
|So it is the men and not the women who are really responsible for the
Danger of Fire
Risk of Tuberculosis and Other Diseases
Immoral Influences of the Street
|This means men are responsible for clean, safe, and healthy homes.|
|In fact, MEN are responsible for the conditions under which the children live, but we hold WOMEN responsible for the results of those conditions.||Women are in charge of the home, but only men can address the issues that influence the home.|
|If we hold women responsible for the results, must we not, in simple justice, let them have something to say as to what these conditions shall be? There is one simple way of doing this. Give them the same means that men have. LET THEM VOTE.||Women need a say in public issues. They need the vote.|
|Women are, by nature and training, housekeepers. Let them have a hand in the city’s housekeeping, even if they introduce an occasional house-cleaning.
NEW YORK STATE WOMAN SUFFRAGE ASSOCIATION
303 Fifth Avenue
New York City
Printed by the NATIONAL WOMAN SUFFRAGE PUBLISHING CO., INC., New York City
|Women are natural housekeepers. Let them influence the city’s housekeeping too.|
New York State Woman Suffrage Association, Women in the Home, n.d. New-York Historical Society Library.
|BALLOT NOT A PANACEA FOR EXISTING EVILS
By Alice Hill Chittenden.
President of the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.
|The right to vote is not a cure all for society.|
|There can be no doubt that many earnest, sincere women declare they want to vote because they wish to take a hand in what they call municipal housecleaning. More schools are needed, more parks and playgrounds; better tenements and cleaner streets. Give us the ballot, they argue, and all these things shall come to pass. But these enthusiastic would-be housecleaners fail to take one point into consideration, which is, that the ballot does not clean streets, nor provide more seats in schoolhouses, nor lighten dark tenements, nor furnish pure milk, nor stop child labor, nor administer justice.||Women claim they want the vote so they can make society better. But the vote does not clean streets, expand schools, improve tenements, or ensure healthy food.|
|The advocates of woman suffrage who cling to this idea, which was prevalent at the time of the French Revolution, and even half a century ago, that the ballot in itself is a panacea for all existing evils and a short cut to the solution of government problems, are not progressive, but are in reality behind the times as students of government. Suffrage isn’t a remedial agent in government, but is merely a means of keeping the wheels of government in motion.||Suffragists support an old-fashioned belief that the vote will solve everything.|
|Men who are interested in social reforms—and their number is legion—have found they could not bring about these essential reforms by merely voting on Election Day, and that is the reason they have organized all kinds of commissions and committees to consider the question of child labor, the care of dependent children and kindred subjects, from an economic and humanitarian point of view in order to educate and stimulate public opinion to a more intelligent and comprehensive understanding of these questions.||Even men, who can vote, know that they cannot make changes through voting. Instead, they have created organizations and committees to addr|