Suffragists faced a lot of derision as they agitated for the right to vote. Observers, separately and sometimes simultaneously saw them as unsexed, sexy, and sexual deviants.
“Sex and the Suffrage Movement” takes three distinct periods of the long women’s suffrage movement and examines the changing perspectives on women in the movement. During most of the nineteenth century, people considered women’s rights activists and suffragists “unsexed.” By the end of the century and in the early part of the twentieth century, most people found suffragists pretty and sexy “new women.” Then, as more audiences began taking suffragists seriously, the women of the anti-suffrage movement increasing saw suffragists as “sexual deviants,” expressing a kind of homophobia. This lecture seeks to highlight these attitudes as they relate to the resistance suffragists faced throughout seven decades of their movement.