Back to Inquiry Set

11.2.2 Justice equality; why women want to vote

The roles of working women, housekeepers, mothers, teachers, and businesswomen, and their need for suffrage. Refers to Proposition 4 of 1911 (or Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 8), an amendment of the state constitution that granted women the right to vote in California.
California Equal Suffrage Association
circa 1911
Fliers (Printed Matter)

Justice equality; why women want to vote. Printed matter. San Francisco, CA: California Equal Suffrage Assocation, Circa 1911. Ella Strong Denison Library, Women's Suffrage and Equal Rights Collection. http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15831coll5/id/1345/rec/1

The California Equal Suffrage Association, which was an organization of suffragists who argued that women be granted the right to vote in the 1911 election, published this advertisement just before men went to the polls to vote on this California amendment. Read through the list of reasons that the California Equal Suffrage Association provides for why women wanted the right to vote. Note that the reasons are connected to women as workers, mothers, citizens, and teachers. Do you think the writers of this advertisement believed women should have the right to vote because women were fundamentally the same as men or fundamentally different? How does this poster help us to answer the question, Why did women want the right to vote, and how did they convince men to grant it to them?

The California Equal Suffrage Association, which was an organization of suffragists who argued that women be granted the right to vote in the 1911 election, published this advertisement just before men went to the polls to vote on this California amendment that would grant women the right to vote. Have students read through the list of reasons that the California Equal Suffrage Association provides for why women wanted the right to vote. Note that the reasons are connected to women as workers, mothers, citizens, and teachers. Students may wish to focus closely on one or two of these points, and connect them with other topics from your class. How, for example, could working women’s interests be of more concern during this era of mass industrialization, urbanization, and immigration? Or, how in the progressive era could the interests of mothers (who according to this poster sought “to regulate the moral conditions under which their children must be brought up”) be relevant to the men who were voting for them? Ask students to consider whether they think that the writers of this advertisement believed women should have the right to vote because women were fundamentally the same as men or fundamentally different. Moreover, ask students to consider how this poster helps us answer the question, Why did women want the right to vote, and how did they convince men to grant it to them? Underscore for students both the arguments (about rights and responsibilities) and the methods (consider the medium of publishing this poster and sending it in the mail to disseminate messages) for promoting suffrage.

Why Women Want to Vote.
WOMEN ARE CITIZENS,
AND WISH TO DO THEIR CIVIC DUTY.

WORKING WOMEN need the ballot to regulate conditions under which they work. Do working men think they can protect themselves without the right to vote?
HOUSEKEEPERS need the ballet to regulate the sanitary conditions under which they and their families must live.
Do MEN think they can fight against vicious conditions that are threatening their children unless they can vote for the men that run the district?
TEACHERS need the ballot to secure just wages and to influence the management of the public schools. Do MEN think they could secure better school conditions without a vote to elect the Mayor who nominates the Board of Education?
BUSINESS WOMEN need the ballot to secure the for themselves a fair opportunity in their business. Do business MEN think they could protect themselves adverse legislation without the right to vote?
TAX PAYING WOMEN need the ballot to protect their property. Do not MEN know that "Taxation without representation" is tyranny?
ALL WOMEN need the ballot, because they are concerned equally with men in good and bad government, and equally responsible for civic righteousness.
ALL MEN need women's help to build a better and juster government, and
WOMEN need MEN to help them secure their right to fulfil their civic duties.
VOTE FOR THE AMENDMENT GIVING WOMAN THE BALLOT AT THE SPECAL ELECTION ON OCTOBER 10, 1911.

"California Next" Printed by California Equal Suffrage Association, Room 243 Pacific Building, San Francisco, Cal.