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Reasons Cited For and Against Granting Women the Vote

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation

 Reading: Nellie McClung Newspaper Report


Cartoon on women's suffrage, July 8, 1914Many of the arguments against granting women the vote were based upon the Separation of Spheres doctrine—the belief that the public sphere was the rightful domain of men, and the private sphere, or home, was the appropriate domain of women. On the other hand, many of the arguments for giving women the vote were based on the belief that women were morally superior to men, and giving them the vote would result in an ideal world.

The following are some of the arguments raised against giving women the vote:

  • A woman's place is in the home
  • Politics are too corrupt for women
  • Allowing women to vote will disrupt the home
  • Women would vote with their husbands, so giving married women the vote would merely double the vote of married men
  • Women would not vote if they had the privilege
  • Women would vote too much
  • Women can do more by indirect influence than by the ballot
  • It is not "womanly" to express one's opinion in a straightforward fashion
  • Women are too sentimental to vote
  • Granting women the vote would give immigrant women the vote, increasing the uneducated vote.

Group of women voters, Edmonton, Alberta, 1920

Some of the arguments for giving women the vote were:

  • Women deserved the right to vote on the basis of their common humanity
  • Women would vote for family-friendly legislation, such as:
    • Prohibition
    • Equal Wages
    • Protection for women and children (Dower and Inheritance Laws)
    • Equal custody
    • Health care and education reform
  • Would vote against war
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