By Merrill Lynn Hansen
I cast my first vote when I was in the fifth grade, participating in the John Dewey Elementary School's mock presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. I don't recall if anyone campaigned for either of the candidates, but at home and at school, there was an emphasis on the importance of voting, and I was pleased that my vote for Kennedy contributed to his presidential win. I never thought about a time in our country's history when women were prohibited from voting, and that young girls my age had never thought of the possibility of participating in politics sometime in their future.
I later learned that the leading argument against the suffrage movement by scientists, academics and doctors in the United States and Britain, was that women shouldn't vote because their brains were inferior. It was even believed that mental exertion and the stress of voting could harm a woman's reproductive organs, and possibly cause her ovaries to shrivel.
I read a letter that the famous British bacteriologist, Almroth Wright, wrote to The Times of London in 1912, about his theory of the suffrage movement. He wrote that when a doctor looks upon a militant suffragist, he cannot shut his eyes "to the fact that there is mixed up with the woman's movement, much mental disorder,” and that some women might resort to physical violence. He also theorized that "in some instances, a part of women's nature has undergone atrophy.” Like many "experts " who were against the suffrage movement, Wright warned of women's physiological emergencies,” and made less than delicate references to women's psychological behavior when they are menstruating.
I was amused when I read a very clever and obviously sarcastic response from Clementine Churchill, the wife of Winston Churchill, in a letter she wrote to The Times of London, which began:
Sir, After reading Sir Almroth Wright’s able and weighty exposition of women as he knows them, the question seems no longer to be “Should women have votes?” but “Ought women not to be abolished altogether?"
When Michelle Obama recently spoke about her love of our country in her speech at the Democratic convention and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer spoke about democracy being a team sport, I couldn't imagine a scientific theory that could ever disqualify them from voting.
But the women who are being showcased by the Republican party scare the hell out of me. I don't permit myself to think about their menstrual cycles (or the possibility of shriveled ovaries), but I can't help but wonder whether Wright's theory, and Ms. Churchill's response, are worthy of reconsideration.
Mary Ann Mendoza, a member of the Trump campaign's Advisory Committee, was scheduled to speak via video at the Republican convention, to praise President Trump for his crackdown on the border and support of law enforcement. However, Mendoza’s video was removed at the last minute, because earlier that day, she had encouraged her Twitter followers to read a thread from a QAnon conspiracy theorist about the Rothschilds, a famous Jewish banking family from Germany.
Supposedly, they had created a plot to terrorize “goyim" (non-Jews). Their "plot" included plans to “make the goyim destroy each other” and "rob them of their land and properties.” The thread also linked Jewish people to the sinking of the Titanic.
Georgia Republican congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is also a QAnon supporter, and described by Trump as a " rising star" in the GOP, on September 3 posted on her Facebook page an image of herself holding a gun. The gun-toting picture appeared alongside of images of Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. Greene wrote that the Republican party needed "strong conservative Christians to go on the offense against these socialists who want to rip our country apart.”
I've no doubt that if today's leading scientists subscribed to the Wright theory regarding the harmful mental-health consequences of voting on women, Ms. Mendoza, and Ms. Greene would be among their case studies. While I won't go so far as to say Mendoza and Greene should be "abolished,” I have exercised great restraint by not writing and suggesting they play in traffic...blindfolded.
When I watched Kimberly Guilfoyle's speech at the RNC, I was scared. Her face turned as red as the dress she was wearing and she shouted that the Democrats "want to steal your liberty, your freedom, what you see, and think and believe, so they can control how you live." When she raised up her arms at the end of her speech, as if she was anticipating cheers and applause, it occurred to me that if Clementine Churchill were alive today, she would have laughed at Guilfoyle's poor performance as Evita Perón, singing "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina", and suggested that Guilfoyle ought be abolished. Wright, no doubt, would have agreed.
But finally, it is Melania Trump's fashion statements that cause me to embrace Wright's theory about the mental instability of women. I'm not quite certain why she gave her Republican convention speech in the Rose Garden dressed like Fidel Castro, but her earlier "I Don't Care Do U?" stadium jacket infuriated me, because I do care . Even though Wright made no specific reference to women who wear 6" stiletto heels to visit hurricane victims, it is insane, and I can think of no better example of why Republican women should not be permitted to vote (and stilettos abolished).
Merrill Hansen is a legal assistant, living in West Bloomfield, Michigan. She describes herself as a frustrated writer, who wishes she could be Nora Ephron (when she was alive), if only for a day. She is a news-, political- and FB-junkie, a combination that requires a constant reminder that she needs to take deep cleansing breaths when responding to people who don't agree with her.