On the same old tune, decades later

Hey Dad,

As a loud and proud feminist, I’ve gotten a lot of flak. Often, it comes from men. Sometimes it comes from men I don’t know and sometimes it comes from men I do. Strangers on the Internet have said that I can’t stand the idea of someone being attracted to me, or that I hate men. Friends and brothers have said that I’m sexist or too sensitive or trying to hurt men. You’ve said that you feel my feminism is a rejection of your way of life and the way I was raised.

Which is why, when I saw the Mental Floss article about anti-suffragette political cartoons last year, it resonated with me strongly. Now, having started a blog and opened myself up to exponentially more commentary, looking back over the cartoons, it’s even more uncanny how accurate they are.

For you here now, some of my favorites:

A cartoon titled

I’ve been accused of promiscuity, and told I will be alone when I’m old.

The only difference between this comic and what one man told me is that he said I’d be old and lonely by 30, which is a sad sign of how out of control our obsession with youth and sexualization of children is.

A cartoon of a woman in grecian drapery holding a sign that says

The woman is graceful and doesn’t want to vote. A suffragette is raucous, untidy and out of line.

This cartoon, though not as in-your-face as the last, is even more hurtful. The “real” woman, the beautiful, graceful, ideal woman doesn’t want votes. She is polite and attractive and voiceless. She is classic, in her Grecian dress. She fills the role of woman as society dictates it. The suffragette, on the other hand, is sloppy and untidy and loud and messy. A clear illustration of tradition vs. women’s rights if I ever saw one.

A photo of a man in an apron doing laundry. A baby and cat sit on the floor. Caption says,

Poor oppressed men.

And this one makes me laugh, mostly because it’s the same old caricature of the oppressive women, holding men down. If women get the vote, obviously men won’t vote anymore. If women get jobs, they’ll make the men stay at home and clean. If women aren’t sexually objectified, then they’ll start objectifying men.

Suffrage, and feminism, are none of these caricatures, Dad. It’s not about oppressing one group to elevate the other; that’s patriarchy. It’s about liberty for everyone, freedom to dictate one’s own life, without fear or shame or obstacle. The more things change for feminism, the more the arguments against it stay the same against it, Dad.




One thought on “On the same old tune, decades later

  1. Pingback: Second Verse Worst Than the First. | Father of a Feminist

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