Women Must Wait
by Anna Katharine Green
An Appeal to the Men of This State to Vote Against the Woman Suffrage Amendment
To the editor of The New York Times:
No man should vote for equal suffrage who is not willing to see half the seats in our Legislature occupied by women.
Though I do not believe, and never have believed, that women under any circumstances or in any place will ever vote en bloc against the men, yet in the contemplation of so serious and drastic a move as doubling the electorate of a great nation even the above mentioned contingency is one which must be met and reckoned with—a Congress divided equally between men and women, a Senate also, with the vague possibility of a woman in the executive chair.
It is what the leaders of the movement long to see—this is what may happen if millions of our men go to war.
Do you like the prospect? Are you willing to see that day? If not, pause and think before you cast your vote for equal suffrage.
They say that the vote is woman’s right. Though the law has denied this, going so far as to declare that it is not even man’s right, but simply his privilege, we will, for argument’s sake, grant this contention. But what if it is? A true woman waives her rights in times of stress, whether that stress be domestic or public. If there is one virtue hitherto considered as a characteristic of the sex it is that of self-forgetfulness when action is demanded or the cry of suffering is heard.
Do not tempt her to forget her noble part. Do not let her be persuaded that there is more glory in obtaining the vote than in the service of love and the perpetuation of an ideal.
But the plea is that to thwart this movement now would be to stay the wheels of progress.
What advance passes the divide, it is no longer ascent by descent; and when taken swiftly, destruction.
Evidences that this extreme exploitation of women has passed the bounds of safety are with us. The graces which once adorned her are fading from our sight. Her modesty is already gone. It is the young man who blushes now and not the girl, or so I hear from some of our City Court Judges. Nothing in the way of business or pleasure is denied the women of this State, with the one exception of the ballot. All occupations are open to them. They can be anything from lobbyists up. They can even for months insult our President and humiliate the nation as no body of men would have been allowed to do for a day. Let them be satisfied with their gains—at least till it has been shown, as it has not been shown yet, that the feminine vote helps either woman or the State.
Again, they make the plea that the enfranchisement of women is a war measure. I do not know how they make that out. I should say that it would be bringing confusion and the utmost distraction into politics and social life at the very time when all such confusion and distraction should be avoided.
If their cause is good, if their confidence is just, they can afford to wait for it a little longer; wait till the public mind and the public sense have become normal again and can rightly judge and seriously weigh this great problem.
Suffragists make a great point of the advantage which the vote will give to working women.
Where is the proof? If the franchise has not succeeded in putting men in a state of absolute contentment with their lot, which should it do so for women?
Mrs. Bryan, in her address at the Henry Street Settlement, dilates upon the added joys which will be given to domestic life when husband and wife have an equal interest in politics; which means, of course, when they think and vote alike. But say they do not, what then?
And mind you, it is because of the very hope that women will not vote as their husbands and brothers do that these would-be reformers justify their attempts to force this movement upon a reluctant electorate.
One word on present conditions. The more serious and conscientious advocates of women’s suffrage decry the picketers and their works. But once let suffrage be established, and it will be the picketers and women of their sort who will come to the front meet the statesmen at every turn. If Miss Shaw and Mrs. Catt have failed to control them now, how will it be when they have the vote to back them?
Do you want to see this country given over to tactics of this kind at every municipal and national election?
If so, vote for woman suffrage.
I know that to those who see in equal suffrage the hope of the ages these words will fail in their appeal. But to the men whose mind is not yet made up let me pray that they will not be misled by the demands of the few in judging the wants of the many. We women have hitherto shared with you in equal measure the duties and obligations of life. It is now proposed that we assume not only our own natural burden, but a portion of yours as well; in short, the heavier load of the two, since I hear nothing of your assuming any part of ours.
Is it fair?
Can we stand up under it?
ANNA KATHARINE GREEN
Buffalo, Oct. 26, 1917