WOMEN
08/07/2013 01:58 pm ET | Updated Aug 09, 2013

These Anti-Suffragette Postcards Show Fighting For Change Has Never Been Easy

Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. Univers

Though it’s easy to take your ability to vote for granted, it’s important to remember how relatively recently this right was won -- 93 years ago to be exact. August 18th marks the 93rd anniversary of the 19th Amendment's ratification. And while a woman’s right to vote is a given today, suffrage was a highly divisive issue just a century ago.

Considering that women's rights activists still face quite a bit of opposition, it's not hard to imagine what kind of resistance the suffragettes met. And while anti-suffragists may not have had Twitter or Reddit to vent their sexist frustrations, they did have the power of the press. Widely circulated political postcards featuring anti-suffrage images and slogans were a significant force working against the suffragettes during their prime between 1893 and 1918.

Catherine H. Palczewski, a professor of women’s and gender studies at University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, is a long-time collector of these anti-suffrage postcards. Here is just a peek into her collection -- and evidence of the insane sentiments suffragists faced (and triumphed over):

First, there was the age-old argument that if women want basic rights, they must be hideous spinsters.
suffragette meetings
Image courtesy of: Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

Of course, they were also unlovable. Women only advocate for themselves when they're lonely, right?
suffragette

Image via Oregon Blue Book

A very common theme was that Suffragettes were nasty, abusive wives who emasculated their poor husbands and shirked their wifely duties.

antisuffragist
Image courtesy of: Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

antisuffragette postcard
Image courtesy of: Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

when women vote
Image courtesy of: Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

But if suffragettes weren't forcefully oppressing their husbands, then they were using their sexuality to get what they wanted. (Some stereotypes never die, apparently.)

suffragette vote getting
Image courtesy of: Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

buying votes
Image courtesy of: Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

Another familiar stereotype meant to keep women in their place that was used against suffragettes? The "bad mother" label.

mummys a suffragettemummys a suffragette
Image courtesy of: Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

To summarize: Suffragettes were thought to be lonely, unlovable, unattractive women who were married but bad at being wives, and who used sex to get everything they wanted. Thankfully, these activist women didn't let their opposers' absurd lack of logic get in their way -- something we should all remember the next time we cast a vote.

[H/T THE WEEK]

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