Friday Feminist – Women’s Christian Temperance Union

September 19 is Suffrage Day in New Zealand. On that date in 1893, the Electoral Bill granting the vote to women was given Royal Assent. New Zealand was one of the earliest states in the world to extend the vote to women [link].

Ten reasons why the women of New Zealand should vote

1. Because a democratic government like that of New Zealand already admits the great principle that every adult person, not convicted of crime, nor suspected of lunacy, has an inherent right to a voice in the construction of laws which all must obey.

2. Because it has not yet been proved that the intelligence of women is only equal to that of children, nor that their social status is on a par with that of lunatics or convicts.

3. Because women are affected by the prosperity of the Colony, are concerned in the preservation of its liberty and free institutions, and suffer equally with men from all national errors and mistakes.

4. Because women are less accessible than men to most of the debasing influences now brought to bear upon elections, and by doubling the number of electors to be dealt with, women would make bribery and corruption less effective, as well as more difficult.

5. Because in the quietude of home women are less liable than men to be swayed by mere party feeling, and are inclined to attach great value to uprightness and rectitude of life in a candidate.

6. Because the presence of women at the polling-booth would have a refining and purifying effect.

7. Because the votes of women would add weight and power to the more settled and responsible communities.

8. Because women are endowed with a more constant solicitude for the welfare of the rising generations, thus giving them a more far-reaching concern for something beyond the present moment.

9. Because the admitted physical weakness of women disposes them to exercise more habitual caution, and to feel a deeper interest in the constant preservation of peace, law, and order, and especially in the supremacy of right over might.

10. Because women naturally view each question from a somewhat different standpoint to men, so that whilst their interests, aims, and objects would be very generally the same, they would often see what men had overlooked, and thus add a new security against any partial or one-sided legislation.

Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Ten reasons why the women of New Zealand should vote, 1888.

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4 responses to “Friday Feminist – Women’s Christian Temperance Union

  1. Pingback: 10 reasons why women should have the vote « Homepaddock

  2. Wonderful stuff! I like point 7 best.

  3. Some of this, I’ve got to admit, makes me think I would have argued pretty strongly with some of the suffragettes assumptions (if not their goals). For example:

    “women are less liable than men to be swayed by mere party feeling, and are inclined to attach great value to uprightness and rectitude of life in a candidate”

    “the presence of women at the polling-booth would have a refining and purifying effect”

    “women are endowed with a more constant solicitude for the welfare of the rising generations”

  4. Of course some of these reasons are easily dismissed today becauase I think we have progressed beyond essentialist notions of what makes a woman a woman (ie, women are purer and less inclined to bribery than men). The argument that women would eradicate electoral corruption was used in most suffrage movements all over the world and at the time I think it was a pretty strong argument, because women were regarded as moral gatekeepers back then – especially those affiliated with the WCTU. Basically women had to use these essentialist type arguments because the notion of ‘equality of the sexes’ under the law, which we take for granted now, wasn’t fuly grasped by society.