Suffragettes Had a Snarky Sense of Humor [Lady Bits]
You know how some people like to dismiss feminists as whining, angry, killjoys? Well, that’s sexist (duh) and also not true. While feminists might not think it’s funny that women get paid less than men for the same jobs, and have their personal medical decisions fought over by politicians, we have a killer sense of humor when we want to. (See wonderful feminist comedian Bridget Christie and these funny feminist Twitter accounts.)
And it turns out that feminists in the past were just as snarky as some of the funny women we know today. Take this article written by turn of the century suffragette Alice Duer Miller. She took popular arguments about why women shouldn’t have the right to vote and flipped them upside down.
This snarky response is still relevant today, which is pretty cool and pretty sad all at the same time. Does this remind anyone of sexist arguments you’ve heard about whether or not a woman could be president? Yeah.
Alice Duer Miller was a writer and poet who went to Barnard College, where she studied mathematics and astronomy. She sold novels and short essays to help pay her way through school. She became a prominent member of the women’s suffrage movement, and she was well known for the hilarious satirical poems she published in the New York Tribune. These poems were later released in a collection called Are Women People? Her first big success with a novel was in 1916 with Come Out of the Kitchen. Many of her novels, including that one, were turned into movies, and she became involved in writing screenplays.
Another major success of Miller’s was her book of verse The White Cliffs, about an American girl who visits London and marries and Englishman just before the First World War. He is killed in the war, leaving the woman with a young son. The poem ends just before the start of the Second World War, and the heroine fears her son will be killed fighting for his country like his father. The book was wildly successful in the U.S. and Britain, selling nearly one million copies. That was unheard of for a book of verse. It was later made into a movie called The White Cliffs of Dover.
There’s a site dedicated to her poems – check it out.