Pro-Suffrage Arguments

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The women arguing for suffrage were taking to the streets by 1912, trying to convince other Americans that their cause had merit and support.

By the 1910s, as historians Eleanor Flexner and Ellen Fitzpatrick argue in Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States, suffragists were using new types of argument as well as new ways of making the argument. For decades, the women and men working for woman suffrage had relied upon more traditional and philosophical arguments, ones based on ideas of liberty, democracy, and fairness. By the 1910s, the emphasis had shifted to more pragmatic arguments, ones based on what women could do to help the country and its residents deal with the problems of mass society and industrial life.

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Looking at the following images, what can you determine about the main points the advocates stressed? Which ones do you think should have been the most successful? What symbols and myths do they suggest? How do these images challenge the existing beliefs about women's roles and abilities? How do they conform? Think also about which women these pictures present. Do you see women from all racial and social classes? If so, is that expected? If not, can you think of possible reasons all groups are not represented?

Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote vividly in favor of women's suffrage.