It was apparently the most prominent of the groups which agitated for female suffrage and and Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution back in the early 20th century.
Here is a list of their aims, from a solicitation for membership:
- Help to Win for All Women:
- Equal control of their children
- Equal control of their property
- Equal control of their earnings
- Equal right to make contracts
- Equal citizenship rights
- Equal inheritance rights
- Equal control of national, state and local government
- Equal opportunities in schools and universities
- Equal opportunities in government service
- Equal opportunities in professions
- Equal pay for equal work
- Equal authority in the church
- Equal rights after marriage to their own identity
- Equal moral standard
In their time, the party was considered quite radical; when the women's rights movement split into a more moderate faction and a militant faction, the Woman's Party, being the more militant, did not long survive as a party, although it had considerable success in its time.
And it's worth noting that most of the goals listed by the party have now become established and accepted as reasonable by virtually everyone, conservative and liberal alike. Is that progress, or is it the triumph of liberalism? Is much of 'conservatism' of today in fact devoted to conserving yesterday's radical measures?
There was recently an interesting discussion over at VFR on the subject of women's political equality
In accordance with the mission statement of this website which is to discuss the modern world as "viewed from the traditionalist politically incorrect right," let me put the matter plainly: Is it a sign of strength in the West that women can vote, hold political office, and be shapers of public opinion on political issues including matters of national security? Or is it a sign--and a cause--of a profound, perhaps fatal weakness?
There is much to be said for the view that affording women political rights (as distinct from the protection of their human rights, property rights, and civil rights) inevitably leads society in the direction of the Nanny State that we see in full bloom in today's Britain and Europe, leading ultimately to the end of national sovereignty and the onset of global governance. Women's primary external concern is safety and security. That is how it should be. Women are the natural care-givers and are naturally focused on the home and the family and its protection. But those same priorities, when expressed through the political sphere as distinct from the private sphere, inevitably lead a society in the direction of socialism.''
The many comments following Lawrence Auster's statement and question represented a range of opinion, with some female commenters adopting a very pro-feminist stance, although not all women seemed to do so.
There was a related essay a while back, by Mark at Western Survival, titled
A Few Thoughts on Female Leadership
...Female leadership is a luxury a nation can afford in safe and prosperous times. But not when the going gets tough. In hard times we can't afford to worry about people's feelings. The whole modern cultural focus on victimhood and avoiding offending anyone seems to me a very female thing. To most women, people's feelings are the most important thing. But men tend to understand that a nation in crisis can't be ruled based on concern for feelings.
I think the catastrophe unfolding in Western civilization is, at root, a failure of white men. It is a failure born of the best of intentions; white men felt it was only fair to open the halls of power to non-whites and women. But it is a failure nonetheless because it is leading to our destruction. We began to care about the feelings of those who are not our people, and we became fat and prosperous and safe enough in our advanced nations that we felt we could afford to give the women a chance at the wheel.''
I tend to agree. It is true that there are the exceptional women who make effective leaders, but the fact that a Margaret Thatcher rises to power seems to be a symptom of the fact that there was a dearth of capable and strong men in the UK at that time. And the Thatchers tend to be few and far between.
Susan Fenimore Cooper in the 19th century argued that extending the vote to women was not a good thing. She emphasized the innate differences between men and women, and argued that women could exert beneficial influences in other ways than through political involvement and the vote.
It is asserted that to disqualify half the race from voting is an abuse entirely inconsistent with the first principles of American politics. The answer to this is plain. The elective franchise is not an end; it is only a means. A good government is indeed an inalienable right. Just so far as the elective franchise will conduce to this great end, to that point it becomes also a right, but no farther. A male suffrage wisely free, including all capable of justly appreciating its importance, and honestly discharging its responsibilities, becomes a great advantage to a nation. But universal suffrage, pushed to its extreme limits, including all men, all women, all minors beyond the years of childhood, wouldSusan Fenimore Cooper mentions the other restrictions on the franchise, and they have since fallen, for the most part.
inevitably be fraught with evil. There have been limits to the suffrage of the freest nations. Such limits have been found necessary by all past political experience. In this country, at the present hour, there are restrictions upon the suffrage in every State. Those restrictions vary in character. They are either national, relating to color, political, mental, educational, connected with a property qualification, connected with sex, connected with minority of years, or they are moral in their nature.''
The vote for women seemed to lead to a continuing expansion of the franchise. The leftist youth revolution of the late 60s included demands to lower the voting age to 18. And the extension of suffrage is something that is even now proceeding further, as there are pressures from the left to give the vote to convicted felons and to non-citizens, including illegal immigrants. It seems as if every victory won by the liberals/leftists results in more demands.
Gerald L. Atkinson writes at length about the feminization of American culture, and discusses the subverting of our military via the imposition of politically correct pro-feminist ideas. The question of whether the feminized military
has contributed to our blunders in Iraq is a question that should be discussed more. I suspect it has been a factor in the way the war has gone.
It does seem that, since female suffrage was instituted, society has become ever more feminized, with the old masculine virtues denounced or discouraged, and the feminine viewpoint becoming more influential. In some areas of life, the traditionally masculine areas like the military, law enforcement, or in the judicial system, the feminine influence seems to be at odds with the function of these institutions. Although the politically correct insist that women are just as capable in these realms as men, the fact is, the very purpose of the military and law enforcement is to exercise raw power, so as to protect society. Women simply cannot equal men in terms of raw force and power, and finding the occasional exception who seems to disprove the rule is the kind of game liberals love to play.
And in the judicial system, women seem to be more easily manipulated and governed by emotion, and tend in general to be more sympathetic to the criminal; women are more likely to see the criminal as the underdog or as a victim of society.
Arthur Schopenhauer, in his essay On Women, said
It is because women’s reasoning powers are weaker that they show more sympathy for the unfortunate than men, and consequently take a kindlier interest in them. On the other hand, women are inferior to men in matters of justice, honesty, and conscientiousness. Again, because their reasoning faculty is weak, things clearly visible and real, and belonging to the present, exercise a power over them which is rarely counteracted by abstract thoughts, fixed maxims, or firm resolutions, in general, by regard for the past and future or by consideration for what is absent and remote. Accordingly they have the first and principal qualities of virtue, but they lack the secondary qualities which are often a necessary instrument in developing it.No doubt many of my readers will find Schopenhauer's characterizations of women extreme.
So that it will be found that the fundamental fault in the character of women is that they have no “sense of justice.”
It does seem true, thought, that in general that women on juries, for example, are more susceptible to manipulation by defense attorneys, and probably less likely to convict or impose a death sentence.
Dennis Prager discusses that issue in this piece on the feminized society.
And the truth is that men and women are profoundly different.
One of these differences is that women generally have a more difficult time transcending their emotions than men. There are, of course, millions of individual women—such as Margaret Thatcher—who are far more rational than many men; but that only makes these women’s achievements all the more admirable. It hardly invalidates the proposition.
Far more common than Margaret Thatcher’s rationality was the emotionality of the women jurors in the Menendez brothers’ trials. All six women jurors in the Erik Menendez trial voted to acquit him of the murder of his father (all six males voted guilty of murder). A virtually identical breakdown by sex took place in the Lyle Menendez trial for the murder of their mother. The women all had compassion for the brothers despite their confessions to the shotgun murders of their parents.''
To say that the human race needs masculine and feminine characteristics is to state the obvious. But each sex comes with prices. Men can too easily lack compassion, reduce sex to animal behavior and become violent. And women’s emotionality, when unchecked, can wreak havoc on those closest to these women and on society as a whole—when emotions and compassion dominate in making public policy.
The latter is what is happening in America. The Left has been successful in supplanting masculine virtues with feminine ones. That is why “compassion” is probably the most frequently cited value. That is why the further left you go, the greater the antipathy to those who make war.
[...]In the micro realm, the feminine virtues are invaluable—for example, women hear infants’ cries far more readily than men do. But as a basis for governance of society, the feminization of public policy is suicidal.''
Schopenhauer also said
Aristotle explains in the Politics the great disadvantages which the Spartans brought upon themselves by granting too much to their women, by allowing them the right of inheritance and dowry, and a great amount of freedom; and how this contributed greatly to the fall of Sparta. May it not be that the influence of women in France, which has been increasing since Louis XIII.‘s time, was to blame for that gradual corruption of the court and government which led to the first Revolution, of which all subsequent disturbances have been the result?''
One cultural oddity that I have noticed is that in popular culture, in action movies, the image of the ultra-tough female, who assumes leadership in a crisis, is now very entrenched. Is this the other side of the coin, the transference of masculine toughness and power to women?
[Gina] Arnold argues that males can also appreciate these films on completely different levels than females. She states: “Perhaps the sight of women beating people up is pleasurable to men because it reinforces their secret belief that women are the ones in control of our society”. She seems to be arguing that there is a veiled, buried masochism that exists in the psyche of most males. If the typical function of the modern male in society is to please women (as Mencimer might argue), then perhaps men get a kick out of watching women be the aggressive, dominant species. Most of the modern female action films are being marketed to adolescent, male teenagers, which may seem to indicate that this buried masochism begins at a young age.''
But is this 'buried masochism' in the psyche of most males merely reflected in these movies, or is it at least in part a product of the pro-feminist messages which are so common everywhere these days?
It does seem as though the popular culture, the entertainment media, have a part in shaping attitudes, perhaps more so than the news media. Certain liberal/leftist ideas are embedded in almost all our entertainment.
One salient fact that I've noticed is that, whenever the subject of female power is debated, most women, with a few rare exceptions, adopt the knee-jerk defense of their sex, and begin to sound exactly like leftist feminists. It would seem that the core feminist beliefs, along with all the rhetoric about 'sexism' and 'misogyny' have become entrenched in our society so that even conservative women fiercely defend feminist dogma, and reflexively take the woman's side in a debate on male-female differences. Yet the reaction is a very emotional and subjective reaction, and it could be seen as a vindication of the arguments being made against female influence. It does seem to show that women are more prone to subjectivity and emotion, rather than detached reason and objectivity.
I can admit that I have been guilty of this kind of emotional reaction myself in the past, during my firebrand feminist days.
Of course it can be said that men defend their sex too, when they receive criticism, but with men, there seems to be less emotion and less of a tendency to take criticism as a personal attack.
I think conservatives of today, as often is the case, are actually defending and conserving liberal ideas and innovations. Female suffrage was a radical idea in its time, and we tend to think that the right to universal suffrage is a given, and that there is no case to be made for differentiating between the sexes. It would seem that to be truly conservative, we might want to re-acquaint ourselves with the traditional views on male-female differences and roles. We have come to accept the very leftist idea of egalitarianism, and all that it implies. Men and women are different; we differ in abilities, as well as in our ways of thinking and feeling. These differences were once seen as complementary, but now we seem to have accepted the adversarial, competitive, combative attitudes between the sexes which were fostered by the left.
And there is still this persistent idea, which was arrogantly expressed by the Woman's Party leader in her piece called Women As Dictators, that women are somehow exempt from the fallibility of men; the idea that women are better fit to create some kind of peaceful, harmonious world, to restore Eden to its pre-fallen state. This presumes that women are not also fallible and fallen creatures.
The time has come to take this world muddle that men have created and strive to turn it into an ordered, peaceful, happy abiding place for humanity. In its present condition the world is its own worst indictment against the sole dictatorship of men. Men have always obstructed and suppressed the intellect of one-half of the human race. They have always worked for themselves. That is not sufficient. The error lies here.'
[...]They have interfered long enough with the development of the human race. We have been patient too long.''
This belief that women are better suited to leadership than men is just a mirror-image of the 'male chauvinism' the feminists of the 60s and 70s always decried; it's simply female chauvinism. Men and women are different, pace the feminists. And the visible results of the considerable influence and power women have gained in recent decades (despite the fact we have never elected a female President) should be cause for some doubt as to the superior leadership of women. The female qualities which have shaped our feminized societies -- the emphasis on inclusion, non-judgementalism, 'consensus' and cooperation rather than competition, the emphasis on appeasement of enemies, and so on -- have not served us very well at a time when the West is under dire threat. It would seem there is a need to rediscover some sort of balance of the feminine and the masculine qualities, with the era we live in now seeming to call for more of the traditional masculine traits. It may be that the realm of government is better left to men. There might be a certain number of exceptional women who can hold their own in those male domains; there have been capable women leaders, but in general women excel more in the realm of the personal.
One of the liberal ideas which has taken hold in our society is that any difference or separation is 'discrimination' and a violation of the principle of equality, which principle must be absolute. This is a bad idea which has had far-reaching consequences. We have re-interpreted equality to mean absolute sameness, which is not possible, whether between races and ethnicities and nationalities or between men and women. It was not discrimination to have all-male schools or clubs, or all-female schools. And division of labor was simply a common sense way to divide up the necessary work: women excelled at certain things, and preferred certain tasks, and these were the 'women's work.' And yes, there are always exceptions who feel at odds with the traditional roles, but a few exceptions, no matter what liberals say, do not justify throwing out all the rules.
It may be that the toothpaste can't be put back in the tube, but I think that many people are aware that things are out of balance as regards sex roles and the distribution of power between males and females.
And if a former militant feminist like me can admit she was wrong, then it's possible for anyone to see that things as they are need a serious readjusting.