Episode 18

The Fundamental Principle of a Republic, by Anna Howard Shaw

Published on: 23rd March, 2021

Allebest: Welcome to Breaking Down Patriarchy! I’m Amy McPhie Allebest. Today’s text is the speech, “The Fundamental Principle of a Republic” by Anna Howard Shaw, given in New York in 1915. Shaw argues that the fundamental principle of a republic is that its citizens get to participate in civic life, and that in denying women the right to vote, America falls short of its democratic values. As listeners might recall from our episode on the Seneca Falls Convention, the women’s suffrage movement had officially begun in 1848, which means that at the point that this speech was given, women had been fighting for the right to vote for 67 years!! Can you imagine how frustrating??  Why was it taking so long? What arguments were being made against women’s suffrage, that were convincing American men and American women that women should not have the right to vote? Anna Howard Shaw’s oration addresses exactly those anti-suffrage arguments. This speech is included on many lists of the 50 best speeches of the entire 20th Century, and sure enough when I read it I was blown away… not only by its power, but also by its humor! Anna Howard Shaw was funny! But before we get to the speech, I want to introduce my reading partner, Amy Osmond Cook. Amy and I were neighbors and running buddies several years ago in Southern California, and we crammed years’ worth of deep discussion into the year that we lived in the same neighborhood. Also, fun fact: as you may have guessed from her maiden name, Amy is the niece of Donny and Marie Osmond. She’s way too humble to name-drop like that, so I’m going to do it for her. :) And we discovered after meeting that we know tons of the same people, including discovering after we had been friends for months, that my cousin is married to her sister! Amy, I absolutely adored you from the first moment I met you and I am so grateful that you agreed to do this project with me! Thanks so much for being here.

Cook: Amy, the feeling is just so mutual. 

Allebest: So before we start, could you tell us a little about yourself? Where you grew up and what made you the person you are today.


Cook: Bio

  • Ancestors from
  • Born and raised in
  • Family of origin
  • Religion
  • Education: undergrad
  • PhD dissertation
  • Career
  • Current family
  • Hobbies/favorite things


Allebest: Thanks so much! And the other question I like to ask is what interested you in Breaking Down Patriarchy. 


Cook: Interest in the project


Allebest: Thanks, Amy. Ok, so in preparation for discussing this text, we need to set the stage a bit by explaining the women’s suffrage movement and Anna Howard Shaw.


Allebest and Cook take turns:


Allebest:

As a way of orienting us, here are a few highlights from a Women’s Suffrage Timeline, as found on the website of  The National Women’s History Museum. We’ll take turns reading some important dates just so we have an understanding of what happened when. 

1850

Worcester, Massachusetts, is the site of the first National Women's Rights Convention. Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Lucy Stone and Sojourner Truth are in attendance. A strong alliance is formed between the Women’s Rights Movement and the Abolitionist Movement (and actually, as we learned in other episodes, those two movements were allied from the very beginning - the women’s movement grew directly out of the Abolition movement)

1861-1865

During the Civil War, efforts for the suffrage movement come to a halt. Women put their energies toward the war effort.

1866

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony form the American Equal Rights Association, an organization dedicated to the goal of suffrage for all, regardless of gender or race.

1868

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Parker Pillsbury publish the first edition of The Revolution.  This periodical carries the motto “Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less!”

Senator S.C. Pomeroy of Kansas introduces the federal woman’s suffrage amendment in Congress. It is rejected. 


Cook:


1869

The American Equal Rights Association is wrecked by disagreements over the question of whether to support the proposed Fifteenth Amendment which would enfranchise Black American males, while avoiding the question of women’s suffrage entirely. 

Also in 1869, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony found the National Women’s Suffrage Association (NWSA), a more radical institution, to achieve the vote through a Constitutional amendment as well as push for other women’s rights issues.  

1870

The Fifteenth Amendment gives black men the right to vote.  NWSA refused to work for its ratification and instead the members advocate for a Sixteenth Amendment that would dictate universal suffrage.  Frederick Douglass broke with Stanton and Anthony over the position of NWSA.  

Allebest: Which is understandable. Frederick Douglass had worked so hard helping White women achieve equal rights, but they abandoned the cause of equal rights for African Americans. Stanton especially said some terribly racist things once it became apparent that Black men were going to be able to vote before White women. We talked about this in our episode on Seneca Falls, but it bears repeating what a tragic and terrible chapter this was in history. 

1872

Susan B. Anthony casts her ballot for Ulysses S. Grant in the presidential election and is arrested and brought to trial in Rochester, New York.  Fifteen other women are arrested for illegally voting.  Sojourner Truth appears at a polling booth in Battle Creek, Michigan, demanding a ballot to vote; she is turned away.

1874

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union is founded by Annie Wittenmyer. (Temperance of course means not consuming alcohol.) The WCTU became an important proponent in the fight for women’s suffrage.  As a result, one of the strongest opponents to women's enfranchisement was the liquor lobby, which feared women might use their vote to prohibit the sale of liquor.

1878

A Women’s Suffrage Amendment is proposed in the U.S. Congress. When the 19th Amendment passes forty-one years later, it is worded exactly the same as this 1878 Amendment.  

Allebest

1890

Two different women’s suffrage organizations merge to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Stanton is the first president. The Movement focuses efforts on securing suffrage at the state level (since it won’t pass at the national level)

Wyoming is admitted to the Union with a state constitution granting women’s suffrage. 

This makes sense. Those Western women were working right alongside the men on the frontier, taking care of animals and fields and doing a lot of the same hard work the men were doing, in a much more egalitarian way. No sitting in the parlor passing the time with embroidery for those women.

1894

600,000 signatures are presented to the New York State Constitutional Convention in an effort to bring a women’s suffrage amendment to the voters. It is rejected (and laughed at).

1896

Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Frances E.W. Harper, among others, found the the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.

Utah joins the Union with full suffrage for women. (But voiting rights are later revoked because of an issue with polygamy - that’s an interesting story to look up, and you no doubt know all about that, Amy!)

Idaho adopts women’s suffrage

1903

The Women's Trade Union League of New York is founded, an organization of middle- and working-class women dedicated to unionization for working women and to women’s suffrage.

1910

Washington State adopts woman suffrage. 

The Women’s Political Union organizes the first suffrage parade in New York City. 

Cook

1911

The National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS) is organized. Led by Mrs. Arthur Dodge, its members included wealthy, influential women, some Catholic clergymen, distillers and brewers, urban political machines, Southern congressmen, and some heads of large corporations.

1912

Women’s Suffrage is supported for the first time at the national level by a major political party -- Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party. 

Twenty thousand suffrage supporters join a New York City suffrage parade. 

Oregon, Kansas, and Arizona adopt women’s suffrage. 

1913

Suffragists organize a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. The parade was the first major suffrage spectacle organized by the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

[Here we want to add something that doesn’t appear on the timeline] In a New York Times article called “How the Suffrage Movement Betrayed Black Women,” author Brent Staples writes that the White leaders of this parade

 “...demanded that black participants march in an all-black assembly at the back of the parade instead of with their state delegations. Ida B. Wells famously refused. Mary Church Terrell, who marched in a colored delegation as requested, believed at the time that white suffragists would exclude black women from the 19th Amendment — nicknamed the Anthony Amendment — if they thought they could get away with it. These episodes fueled within the African-American community a lasting suspicion of white suffragists and of the very idea of political cooperation across racial lines.”

This story is not covered often enough, and we encourage you to look up Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell, and we have posted a link to biographies of Black women who worked tirelessly for women’s suffrage on the website, Breaking Down Patriarchy.com. 

 (Source: https://www.history.com/news/black-suffragists-19th-amendment

Amy: It’s just shameful. And I was really disappointed to not see that mentioned on The National Women’s History Museum timeline. You still have to look up special interest articles to learn about the contributions of women of color, and about the racism of many of the white feminists. That needs to change. 

1915

Forty thousand march in a NYC suffrage parade.  Many women are dressed in white and carry placards with the names of the states they represent. 

Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts continue to reject woman suffrage.

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Allebest:

And that leads us to the moment of Anna Howard Shaw’s speech in New York. As you just pointed out, women’s suffrage was being battled state by state, and New York was still holding out against it. So let’s pause here and learn a little bit about Anna Howard Shaw. Amy, could you give us a brief biography?

 

Cook:

Anna Howard Shaw was born on February 14, 1847 - any 30 Rock fans will remember Liz Lemon renaming Valentine’s Day “Anna Howard Shaw Day.” :) Shaw was born in England, but moved with her parents to the United States when she was four years old. She grew up in a forest in Michigan, helping her mother manage a large property and many children in the wilderness, while her father worked in the city and had a thriving career. Anna did a lot of manual labor and caretaking of her mother and younger siblings when she was a child. 

Shaw felt called to preach from an early age. As a child, she would spend time in the woods near her house, and stand on tree stumps to preach to the trees of the forest. She was determined to go to college and follow the path that she felt was God's will for her life. Her family disapproved and refused to help her with her goal, so she struck out on her own, having to “pick up the dreaded needle” and do work as a seamstress because her preferred work of digging ditches or shoveling coal were not considered suitable for women. An important moment came when Anna met Reverend Marianna Thompson, a Universalist minister who came to preach in Grand Rapids. Shaw went to the service, eager to see a woman in the pulpit, and after the service, Shaw confided in Thompson her own desire to pursue the ministry as a vocation. Thompson strongly encouraged her to obtain an education without delay.

In 1873, Shaw entered Albion College, a Methodist school in Albion, Michigan. Since her family frowned upon her decided career path, they refused to provide any financial support. At that point, Shaw had been a licensed preacher for three years and earned her wages by giving lectures on temperance.

After Albion College, Shaw attended Boston University School of Theology in 1876. She was the only woman in her class of forty-two men, and she always felt "the abysmal conviction that [she] was not really wanted there."  She also struggled to support herself financially. Already running on a tight income, Shaw found it unfair that the "male licensed preachers were given free accommodations in the dormitory and their board cost each of them $1.25 while it cost her $2 to pay rent of a room outside." Additionally, she had trouble finding employment. In 1880, after she and Annie Oliver were refused ordination by the Methodist Episcopal Church, despite passing with the top exam score that year, she achieved ordination in the Methodist Protestant Church.

 

Following her ordination, Shaw received an MD from Boston University in 1886. During her time in medical school, she became an outspoken advocate of political rights for women.

 

Shaw first met Susan B. Anthony in 1887, and in 1888, Shaw attended the first meeting of the International Council of Women. Susan B. Anthony encouraged her to join the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), and in 1904 she became president of the organization. She was president for the next 11 years. During the early 20th century, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, NAWSA members, began employing militant techniques (e.g. picketing the White House during World War I) to fight for women's suffrage. They, like other members, were inspired by the success of the militant suffragettes in England. Shaw was ardently nonviolent, and maintained that she was "unalterably opposed to militancy, believing nothing of permanent value has ever been secured by it that could not have been more easily obtained by peaceful methods.”

 

She was a speaker at the 1919 National Conference on Lynching, speaking about her frustration that women could not vote to outlaw the practice of lynching.

 

In July of 1919, Shaw died of pneumonia at her home in Moylan, Pennsylvania at the age of seventy-two, only a few months before Congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, granting women the right to vote.

 

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Allebest

So frustrating!!! Ok, so now let’s talk about that famous 1915 speech. Amy and I have selected a few of our favorite parts to highlight, but I must say, there is truly so much amazing material in this speech, I highly recommend looking it up and reading the whole thing! It’s really readable and enjoyable.

----

Allebest

When I came into your hall tonight, I thought of the last time I was in your city. Twenty One years ago I came here with Susan B. Anthony, and we came for exactly the same purpose as that for which we are here tonight. 


Again, how incredibly frustrating!!! It’s easy for us to look back, knowing how the story ends, and say “don’t worry, it’s going to work out.” But can you imagine spending your entire life fighting for something, day after day, and knowing the generation before you fought for it, and going to give a speech in exactly the same place, about that same topic, 21 years later, and nothing had changed?? I would want to give up.


Boys have been born since that time and have become voters, and the women are still trying to persuade American men to believe in the fundamental principles of democracy, and I never quite feel as if it was a fair field to argue this question with men, 


It’s not!! We’ve discussed this on multiple episodes already - it’s like Queen Esther fasting and praying and going in to King Xerxes and just hoping he feels benevolent enough to raise his scepter and let her talk. I feel sympathy with people of color trying to argue for their rights when they talk to white people in power, and for LGBTQ people trying to convince straight people to please let them have the same civil rights that straight people already enjoy. It’s not a fair field of argument at all. One thing that men, or White people, or straight people, can try to do is to try to have empathy. For me, being a woman appealing to a group of men in power feels similar to how I felt when I was a child talking to an adult who held all the power over my life. I remember that feeling of trying to make my case brilliantly and compellingly and trying to behave so well and perfectly to try to please them and trying not to cry so they will take you seriously… and yet they can still just say “yeah… no. I don’t think so.” We probably all remember that feeling in childhood - just imagine how hard it is to be in that position as a full-grown adult. Let’s try to be aware of any power imbalances that still exist in our society today, and do everything in our power to correct them. 


Anyway, back to the speech.


If we trace our history back we will find that from the very dawn of our existence as a people, men have been imbued with a spirit and a vision more lofty than they have been able to live; they have been led by visions of the sublimest truth, both in regard to religion and in regard to government that ever inspired the souls of men 


I love that she is able to see the founding of the nation with nuance and complexity - that the principles upon which the nation was founded were groundbreaking in comparison to the feudalism and aristocracy and religious persecution of Europe. However, even from the beginning, the founders had egregious blind spots that caused immense suffering. They did not live up to their own stated ideals.


Cook


Yes, after that she talks about how the founding fathers completely left out people of color and ignored the egregious sin of slavery, even as they were writing “all men are created equal.” And then she goes on to talk about how in her own time, they were finally beginning to include “all men,” but were still leaving out “all women.”


She says:

[On the Fourth of July you hear men] repeat over and over again that clause from the Declaration of Independence. "Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed," ...and  "vox populi, vox Dei." "The voice of the people is the voice of God," and the orator forgets that in the people's voice there is a soprano as well as a bass.  If the voice of the people is the voice of God, how are we ever going to know what God's voice is when we are content to listen to a bass solo? Now if it is true that the voice of the people is the voice of God, we will never know what the Deity's voice in government is until the bass and soprano are mingled together, the result of which will be the divine harmony. Take any of the magnificent appeals for freedom, which men make, and rob them of their universal application and you take the very life and soul out of them. 


I love that analogy to a choir singing!! We need all the voices!! This reminds me of something I learned in a class once - that after the Protestant reformation, Christians started singing hymns together, with men’s and women’s voices mixing together. Prior to that, in the Catholic tradition, it would have been just the priest’s voice singing, or a boys’ choir. But not the democratic, everyday people, singing together. I had never appreciated that sound before - the sound of the whole human family using their voices together, without leaving anyone out.


Cook


Another quote from this section:


We have our theories, our beliefs, but as suffragists we have but one belief, but one principle, but one theory and that is the right of a human being to have a voice in the government, under which he or she lives. ...Whenever any question is to be settled in any community, then the people of that community shall settle that question. The women people equally with the men people. That is all there is to it.




Ok, so I still have some questions. Now that women have the vote, is the work over? Do women have equal representation in government? In the United States? In other countries? Do they need it? Do women have equal representation in creating policy in churches? Do they need it? Do they have equal weight in making decisions in the home? Do they need it? And if women do need additional representation, what is the process by which they should obtain it? 



Allebest

The part of the speech that we want to highlight the most are the arguments that people were making against women’s right to vote. Here’s what Anna Howard Shaw says:


When it comes to arguing their case they bring up all sorts of arguments, and the beauty of it is they always answer all their own arguments. They never make an argument, but they answer it. When I was asked to answer one of their debates I said, " What is the use? Divide up their literature and let them destroy themselves." 


She is so funny. Ok, so here follow some anti-suffrage arguments.


I was followed up last year by a young, married woman from New Jersey. She left her husband home for three months to tell women that their place was at home, and that they could not leave home long enough to go to the ballot box, 


This irony might go right past if you’re not listening carefully :)


She started by proving that it was no use to give the women the ballot because if they did have it they would not use it, and she had statistics to prove it. If we would not use it then I really can not see the harm of giving it to us, we would not hurt anybody with it and what an easy way for you men to get rid of us. No more suffrage meetings, never any nagging you again, no one could blame you for anything that went wrong with the town, if it did not run right, all you would have to say is, you have the power, why don't you go ahead and clean up. 


Then the young lady, unfortunately for her first argument, proved by statistics, of which she had many, the awful results which happened where women did have the ballot; what awful laws have been brought about by women's vote; the conditions that prevail in the homes and how deeply women get interested in politics, because women are hysterical, and we can not think of anything else, we just forget our families, cease to care for our children, cease to love our husbands and just go to the polls and vote and keep on voting for ten hours a day 365 days in the year, never let up, if we ever get to the polls once you will never get us home, so that the women will not vote at all, and they will not do anything but vote. Now these are two very strong anti-suffrage arguments and they can prove them by figures. 


She’s so funny!!



Cook

Ok, so that’s the first example of two arguments that contradict each other. Here’s another set:


Then they will tell you that if women are permitted to vote it will be a great expense and no use because wives will vote just as their husbands do; even if we have no husbands, that would not affect the result because we would vote just as our husbands would vote if we had one. How I wish the anti-suffragists could make the men believe that; if they could make men believe that the women would vote just as they wanted them to do you think we would ever have to make another speech or hold another meeting, we would have to vote whether we wanted to or not. 


And then the very one who will tell you that women will vote just as their husbands do will tell you in five minutes that they will not vote as their husbands will and then the discord in the homes, and the divorce. Why, they have discovered that in Colorado there are more divorces than there were before women began to vote, but they have forgotten to tell you that there are four times as many people in Colorado today as there were when women began to vote.


Ok, there’s a second example of contradictory arguments. This reminds me of an epiphany I had a few years ago when I was thinking about how within Christianity, the ancient church fathers used to argue that men needed to be in charge of women because as the daughters of Eve, women were so spiritually weak and so prone to sin, so they were incapable of leading. Yet then in more recent centuries the argument shifted to the opposite: men needed to be in charge of women because women were spiritually superior and so angelic, and they were so capable of leading that if they had a chance to lead they would take over everything and the men would be obsolete. All through the ages, men have argued that they needed to be in charge, and they have used whatever argument they need to to keep power. And of course women who choose to align themselves with the people in power and support the existing system argue against women’s autonomy as well.




Cook:

I thought this part was interesting:


A gentleman told me [a story] in California and when he was talking I had a wonderful thing pass through my mind, because he said that he and his wife had lived together for twenty years and never had a difference in opinion in the whole twenty years and he was afraid if women began to vote that his wife would vote differently from him and then that beautiful harmony which they had had for twenty years would be broken, and all the time he was talking I could not help wondering which was the idiot! Because I knew that no intelligent human beings could live together for twenty years and not have a difference of opinion. All the time he was talking I looked at that splendid type of manhood and thought, how would a man feel being tagged up by a little woman for twenty years saying, "Me too, me too." I would not want to live in a house with a human being for twenty years who agreed with everything I said. The stagnation of a frog pond would be hilarious compared to that. 


I love her sense of humor! I can’t believe this was written 105 years ago. Also, this reminds me that the laws of coverture had just recently been overturned and outdated, and societal change is very gradual, and happen in some communities and families more quickly than they do in others. So many people were probably still only very slowly shifting away from the expectation that men and women were literally “one person” and should have no difference of opinion. Because under the laws of coverture women literally didn’t exist as separate entities. As one minister put it at the time “in marriage, man and woman become one, and that one is the man.”


Now it may be that the kind of men that the anti-suffragists live with is that kind [i.e., the kind that can’t tolerate differences of opinion], but they are not the kind we live with and we could not do it. Great big overgrown babies! Cannot be disputed without having a row! While we do not believe that men are saints, by any means, we do believe that the average American man is a fairly good sort of fellow. 


I love this! In contrast to the Seneca Falls Convention speeches we read, which painted men as tyrannical and abusive, I love that Shaw sees men as human beings, as good and as flawed as women, because we’re all human beings.



Allebest:

Shaw goes on to talk about another argument the anti-suffragists were making at the time. She says:

Then the other belief …. Is that women have so many burdens that they cannot bear another burden, and that women are the leisure class. 


This is an argument I hear all the time among Mormons who argue against greater equity for women. They say “I have too much to do already; I don’t want to have the added burden of being a bishop.” 


Shaw answers this argument by saying:


We have a right to the opportunity. ...We want it. No woman, any more than a man, has the right to live an idle life in this world, we must learn to give back something for the space occupied and we must do our duty wherever duty calls, and the woman herself must decide where her duty calls, just as a man does. 


...And talking about time you would think it took about a week to vote. A dear, good friend of mine in Omaha said, "Now Miss. Shaw," and she held up her child in her arms, "is not this my job." I said it certainly is, and then she said, "How can I go to the polls and vote and neglect my baby?" I said, "Has your husband a job?" and she said, "Why you know he has." I did know it; he was a banker and a very busy one. I said, "Yet your husband said he was going to leave work and go down to the polls and vote," and she said, "Oh yes, he is so very interested in election." Then I said, "What an advantage you have over your husband, he has to leave his job and you can take your job with you and you do not need to neglect your job." 


Is it not strange that the only time a woman might neglect her baby is on election day, and then the dear old Aunties hold up their hands and say, "You have neglected your baby." A woman can belong to a whist club [whist was a game - think of it like we now think of “Bunco” nights or girls nights out] and go once a week and play whist, she cannot take her baby to the whist club. ... She can go to the theatre, to church or a picnic and no one is worrying about the baby, but to vote and everyone cries out about the neglect. You would think on Election Day that a woman grabbed up her baby and started out and just dropped it somewhere and paid no attention to it. It used to be asked when we had the question box, "Who will take care of the babies?" I did not know what person could be got to take care of all the babies, so I thought I would go out West and find out. I went to Denver and I found that they took care of their babies just the same on election day as they did on every other day; they took their baby along with them, when they went to put a letter in a box they took their baby along and when they went to put their ballot in the box they took their baby along. If the mother had to stand in line and the baby got restless she would joggle the go-cart and when she went in to vote a neighbor would joggle the go-cart and if there was no neighbor there was the candidate and he would joggle the cart. 


I LOVE HER


Ok, and here comes something I can really relate to as well. The fact that so many Mormon women are sooooo busy. Sooooo busy with their responsibilities at church, sooooo busy planning community events, busy with charities, busy with volunteering at their kids’ schools, busy planning birthday parties and acts of service for friends. And they don’t mind bringing their kids along to those endeavors, or trading babysitting or hiring childcare or just figuring out a way to make it work. But I have heard from many women who work outside the home that sometimes full-time moms will slide in passive/aggressive comments, like “wow, it must be really hard to balance work life.” Whereas they never make those comments about the time that women spend away from their kids in unpaid church or school commitments. I think that must be a holdover from “separate spheres” ideology where women can spend tooooons of time on the home, or their kids’ schools, or church, but it’s still considered inappropriate and even scary for women to be in the public sphere. What do you think?


Cook: Response




So now there’s a long passage about the horrors and tragedies of World War One, which had just started the year before. I wish we had time to read it because it is so moving as she talks about mothers’ grief over the sons dying in war, and she makes a powerful argument for women using their vote and being involved in government in order to use love and diplomacy and avoid future wars. But we’ll just end with this quote.


“We women do not want the ballot in order that we may fight, but we do want the ballot in order that we may help men to keep from fighting, whether it is in the home or in the state, just as the home is not without the man, so the state is not without the woman, and you can no more build up homes without men than you can build up the state without women. We are needed everywhere where human problems are to be solved. Men and women must go through this world together from the cradle to the grave; it is God's way and the fundamental principle of a Republican form of government.”



Allebest: Ok Amy, what is one thing you’ll remember from this speech?


Cook


What’s one thing you’ll take away from this?


Allebest: The arguments against women voting were really interesting to me. It helped me understand that historical moment better, but I was also kind of blown away by how current they felt - even though women have had the right to vote for 100 years now, those same arguments are still used to keep women from participating fully in society. “It will cause contention between spouses” or “who will take care of the children?” Those are arguments that are still used to keep women from having equitable relationships with men and from achieving their own human potential, out in the world, how they choose, the way that men do. I agree with Anna Howard Shaw that human beings are really smart, and we can come up with new, better ways of doing things so that we can all participate in a more just system where one group of people doesn’t make restrictive rules for another group of adults. We can rise to the occasion! 


And Amy, thank you so much for this discussion! I learned so much and am so grateful that you joined me today.


Cook: Thank you!


Allebest: For our next episode, we will be discussing two speeches by Margaret Sanger, “The Morality of Birth Control” given in 1918, and “The Case for Birth Control,” given in 1934.

These are landmark works regarding women’s reproduction, and in preparation I recommend looking up the speech online and also watching some episodes of the BBC series “Call the Midwife.” It’s a fascinating slice of history, and it’s an incredibly important topic that impacts everyday life for all of us. So look up “The Morality of Birth Control” and “The Case for Birth Control,” and then join us for the discussion, next time on Breaking Down Patriarchy. 



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Breaking Down Patriarchy
An Essential Texts Book Club
Breaking Down Patriarchy is a podcast for everyone! Learn about the creation of patriarchy and those who have challenged it as you listen to bookclub-style discussions of essential historical texts. Gain life-changing epiphanies and practical takeaways through these smart, relatable conversations.

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Amy Allebest

I grew up in Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, reading, writing, drawing, singing, and practicing the piano and violin. I attended Brigham Young University, where I met Erik Allebest during my first week of freshman year, studied abroad in Israel, lived in Chile for a year and a half as a missionary, and married Erik all before graduating with a degree in English. Erik and I moved around - to Colorado, Southern California, Utah, Spain, and Northern California - while Erik started and ran chess businesses for a living (primarily chess.com) and I stayed home to raise our four children. Those four kids have become brilliant, hilarious people and are our very best friends. I am a long-time trail runner, a recent CrossFitter, a lifelong reader and writer, and an almost-graduate of Stanford University's Master's of Liberal Arts program.