Undead sexist cliché: Women’s suffrage ruined America

Echidne reports on a couple of men’s-rights websites that believe women shouldn’t have the vote because it’s men, and only men, who die in combat (which is not, I note, accurate). And so, apparently, if you’re a man, you’re entitled to the vote, even if you haven’t served (and, at this point in America, can’t be conscripted).
I’d pay no attention to this if it wasn’t that arguments that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote have gone from fringe to mainstream the past few years. When I first ran across anti-suffrage arguments,they were on minor websites. One was a Christian site that objected to women voting because it violated their God-given subordinate role. One was by Kim DuToit, a blogger who ranted about how America is becoming (shudder) too feminine, including that ” When women got the vote, it was inevitable that government was going to become more powerful, more intrusive, and more “protective” (ie. more coddling), because women are hard-wired to treasure security more than uncertainty and danger.”
Okay, no biggie, I said; any fringe view can be found on the web. But a couple of years, arguments against women voting popped up at mainstream right-wing sites such as Townhall.com, and National Review, and higher-profile conservative figures—Ann Coulter, John Derbyshire, John Lott—had expressed the same attitude.
The “logic” of cutting off women’s votes is usually based on two arguments:
•Women vote liberal. And that’s grounds in itself for taking away the vote.
Curiously, while revulsion at the continued existence of liberals is one of the fires that fuels the conservative movement, nobody making this argument suggests that liberal men should be denied the right to vote. So I doubt it’s about politics as much as it’s about uppity women or catering to a right-wing audience that wishes women were in the place the way they used to be back in the good old days. As witness Derbyshire’s statement that since America got along without women voting for 130 years, he wouldn’t lose a moment’s sleep if the right were revoked.
•Women’s suffrage led to big government/the nanny state.
DuToit expresses this point of view (though his essays show he has plenty of other issues regarding women and masculinity): Women are responsible for the nanny state because they need someone to take care of them. Lott and Derbyshire express the same view.
None of them offer any evidence of this other than their oh-so-deep understanding of women’s “hard wired” nature. And the nonlogic of “Women got the vote, government got more intrusive, therefore women are responsible for intrusive government.” B follows A does not mean A causes B, guys. (I wonder if this doesn’t tie in to the general presentation of post-9/11 women as passively waiting for a hero to save them).
Nor do these er, thinkers explain why “Well, they don’t vote the way I want them to” actually justifies taking away anyone’s rights. If women, why not blacks and Jews, both groups that tend to vote Democratic? Or hell, why not take away Derbyshire’s free speech rights since he doesn’t say anything I agree with.
And as several feminists have noted, government has actually become a lot less intrusive since women got the vote. No laws banning gays. The end of Jim Crow. The end of compulsory prayer in school. The right to abortion. The right to use birth control. The right to interracial marriage. (Of course, a number of conservatives want government to be more intrusive with things like this).
Any feminists who suggested we’d be better off if men lost the right to vote would be too far outside the mainstream to be heard.
Suggesting women lose their rights, it seems, is a perfectly acceptable position.

21 Comments

Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

21 responses to “Undead sexist cliché: Women’s suffrage ruined America

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