Oregon State Bar Bulletin — NOVEMBER 2012

Sample Arguments Against Women’s Suffrage

“We submit that this adverse vote rolled up again and again with increasing emphasis at each election is the best possible evidence that woman suffrage is not wanted in Oregon, either by the women or the men. The fact is that the agitation for woman suffrage is carried on by a small minority of the women of the State, who make up in activity what they lack in numbers. Let any man ask the women of his acquaintance, and particularly the women who are doing women’s work in the world, the women whom he most respects, and he can satisfy himself as to whether women want the right to vote.”

— Excerpt from the argument against women’s suffrage in the 1912 Oregon Voter’s Pamphlet

“It is not a social, but a natural fact that woman is shorter in stature, weaker in body, lighter and less forcible and less commanding in voice and movement and all that indicates authority and mastery, than man, notwithstanding a few abnormal exceptions. It is not a tradition, but a scientific fact or law, that the average weight of the brain of woman is one-tenth less than that of man, and differs from it also in structure — indicating not that she is mentally inferior, but that certain spheres of thought and activity are specially adapted, and certain others not adapted to her mental, no less than to her bodily organization.”

— Rev. Prof. H.M. Goodwin, New Englander and Yale Review, March 1884

“A woman’s brain evolves emotion rather than intellect; and whilst this feature fits her admirably as a creature burdened with the preservation and happiness of the human species, it painfully disqualifies her for politics.”

— Dr. William Hammond, 19th century brain specialist

“Young man, if you don’t want a female lawyer, doctor or politician for a wife, but would prefer a woman who will be a good companion, home maker, wife and mother, then vote and induce all of your friends to vote against EQUAL SUFFRAGE. This is a fight for our homes, for our families and for our personal liberties.”

— Anti-suffrage leaflet distributed in Denver, Colo., in 1893 


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