Thursday, September 15, 2011

1911 Women Suffragettes

This evening I will be giving a short talk on some of the discussions leading up to women having the right to vote here in the United States. It will be at a women's political group for Livingston county. As you may have noticed, I added another tab just under the header for The Fowlerville Observer. I will be adding the two-page paper I wrote and presented at that meeting to that page.

In the meantime, following is an excerpt from the Farmers' Club minutes, published in the local newspaper, from 1911. While women here in the states were trying to gain equality, a discussion was conducted at the weekly meeting regarding the differences between Japanese and American women. This may have resulted due to the great unrest that ultimately resulted in World War I a few years later.

How do the women in Japanese homes compare with women in American homes?

A nicely prepared paper was given on the subject by Mrs. F.A. Rathbun, who gave a good description of the Japanese home; no American furniture, floors covered with white matting, people sit on floors, shoes taken off just inside the door, maid meet people at the door with hands extended, palms downward, and bows to the floor, then asks them to remove their shoes. Supper consists of three courses; first, cake and candy; second, soup; third, tea and rice; after which she announces the bath is ready. All the family bathe in the same water. The beds are made of quilts on the floor, a peculiar pillow placed under the neck, head hanging over. Fashions never vary, silk flowing, robes commonly being worn. Everybody has a maid servant, the maid approaching her mistress on her knees. American women reverse the custom.

Mrs. Frank Curtis gave a description of a visit to a Japanese Christian home by an American family which was very interesting, which space forbids writing here, but she mentioned the Japanese dress equal to or superior to the American "hobble skirt."

Mrs. G.L. Adams spoke of their being a people given to reasoning and that accounted for the Christian spirit that was growing there. Mrs. O.E. Carr spoke of the marriage custom in Japan, the men alone being able to obtain a divorce and for adultry, the women are punished by death, the husband can administer the punishment, he having all the privileges along those lines; brides are disfigured in many ways to make them hideous and ugly looking.

G.L. Adams said American women were the equal of men, and often the boss of the household. Japanese girls were sold by their own father for immoral purposes to pay his debts, after which she returned to the household without social taint.

J.B. Fuller thought American women are splendid, if they did not wear hobble skirts, high heel shoes, big hats and long hatpins. Mrs. J. Snyder and others spoke on the "white slave traffic" in both countries, thought Japan was ignorant and in a way innocent along these lines which America had no excuse.Of course, I had to head to wikipedia to get this picture of a hobble skirt. Definitely fits its name because what else could a women do but hobble!?!

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