On this day in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution was ratified. It signaled the end of the long struggle for a woman's right to vote. The amendment is short, but very sweet:
Amendment XIX. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The struggle for the right to vote is documented in the DVD, One Woman, One Vote [DVD 324.623 ONE]. Not to be missed is fictionalized film, Iron Jawed Angels [DVD IRO].
So where does poetry come in? You'll find a whole volume of little ditties in Are Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times by Alice Duer Miller, a book that was published in 1915, and can be found on the Gutenberg Project website.
Here are two sample poems to make you smile on this 97th anniversary of the ratification.
The Revolt of Mother
("Every true woman feels----"—Speech of almost any Congressman.)
I am old-fashioned, and I think it right
That man should know, by Nature's laws eternal,
The proper way to rule, to earn, to fight,
And exercise those functions called paternal;
But even I a little bit rebel
At finding that he knows my job as well.
At least he's always ready to expound it,
Especially in legislative hall,
The joys, the cares, the halos that surround it,
"How women feel"—he knows that best of all.
In fact his thesis is that no one can
Know what is womanly except a man.
I am old-fashioned, and I am content
When he explains the world of art and science
And government—to him divinely sent—
I drink it in with ladylike compliance.
But cannot listen—no, I'm only human—
While he instructs me how to be a woman.
Warning to Suffragists
("The Latin man believes that giving woman the vote will make her less attractive."—Anna H. Shaw.)
They must sacrifice their beauty
Who would do their civic duty,
Who the polling booth would enter,
Who the ballot box would use;
As they drop their ballots in it
Men and women in a minute,
Lose their charm, the antis tell us,
But—the men have less to lose.
The "anitis" were those who opposed a woman's right to vote. [Note: many refer to the women who fought for suffrage as "suffragettes," but the term applies to British women. In the U. S. they were called "suffragists."]
Take A Journey through the Pages for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.