Anti-Suffrage

Local Movement

As the suffrage movement gained momentum, another group emerged to fight their efforts. Around the country and locally, men and women who opposed the “woman vote” joined anti-suffrage societies. These groups were primarily dedicated to getting men to vote “no” on any suffrage referendums. Members of the Women’s Anti-Suffrage Association of Chemung County marched in parades, had a booth at the county fair, and used newspaper advertisements to spread their message. The local movement was particularly active leading up to the 1917 vote. The local Anti-Suffrage Association challenged the local Suffrage Association to a public debate on the issue in October 1917. The suffragists declined, citing scheduling conflicts. Some anti-suffragists saw this refusal as a sign that suffragists feared their arguments would not stand up to public scrutiny.

The anti-suffragists:

  • Believed the nation’s efforts should be focused on war production and policy, not suffrage.

  • Feared granting suffrage could lead to the further destruction of social norms, possibly even promoting the white slave trade.

  • Believed the interests of women were represented by their male family members at the ballot box.

  • Thought women and men were responsible for different “spheres” and women should not be sullied by the nastiness of politics.

  • Claimed the majority of women actually did not want the vote and it was undemocratic to force it upon them.

The Anti-Suffragists:

  • Believed the nation’s efforts should be focused on war production and policy, not suffrage.

  • Feared granting suffrage could lead to the further destruction of social norms, possibly even promoting the white slave trade.

  • Believed the interests of women were represented by their male family members at the ballot box.

  • Thought women and men were responsible for different “spheres” and women should not be sullied by the nastiness of politics.

  • Claimed the majority of women actually did not want the vote and it was undemocratic to force it upon them.

Anti-suffrage ad, Elmira Star-Gazette, November 5, 1917