American women won the right to vote in 1920-but they worked for it through 72 long years! As we prepare to celebrate the centennial of Woman Suffrage and face the challenges that still remain, it's astonishing-and fun-to look back in time.
Many women fought against getting the vote in the early 1900s, but none with more charm, prettier clothes-and less logic-than the fictional speaker in this satiric monologue. "Woman suffrage is the reform against nature," declares the unlikely, but irresistibly likable, heroine. "Ladies, get what you want. Pound pillows. Make a scene. Make home a hell on earth-but do it in a womanly way! That is so much more dignified and refined than walking up to a ballot box and dropping in a piece of paper!"
Pro-Suffragist and Unitarian minister Marie Jenney Howe wrote Someone Must Wash the Dishes in 1912. Titled "An Anti-Suffrage Monologue," it was published in 1913, by the National American Woman Suffrage Association (precursor of the League of Women Voters). This production was directed by Warren Kliewer for New Jersey's The East Lynne Company-which he founded in 1980 to revive American plays and literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This fictional "Anti" sincerely believes being a "womanly woman" will keep the Home intact and rescue the Nation from anarchy. "She is charming, obsessed, oblivious-stylish in her wardrobe, but muddled in debate. What her husband tells her goes in one ear and out her mouth," laughs her portrayer: professional actress Michéle LaRue.
THE LONG ROAD TO OUR SUFFRAGE CENTENNIAL
- July 19, 1848: The first women's rights convention convenes, in Seneca Falls, N.Y. Its "Declaration of Sentiments," makes the first formal demand for women's right to vote in the U.S. - 71 years later.
- May 21, 1919: The U.S. House of Representatives passes the Nineteenth Amendment for woman suffrage.
- June 4, 1919: The Senate passes the Amendment with two votes to spare. Drafted by Susan B. Anthony and first introduced in 1878, it now goes to the states for ratification.
- August 18, 1920: Despite racist propaganda, corporate greed, and political machinations, Tennessee becomes the 36th state to ratify.
- August 26, 1920: Signed into law by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby, the Amendment grants women the right to vote.
- September 4, 1920: "The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guaranty of your liberty. That vote of yours has cost millions of dollars and the lives of thousands of women. Women have suffered agony of soul which you never can comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom. That vote has been costly. Prize it! Progress is calling to you to make no pause. Act!" -- Carrie Chapman Catt, Suffrage Leader published in The Woman Citizen.
Michéle LaRue specializes in tales from America's Gilded Age - "a time when literature was written for the ear," she explains. "Before radio, family and friends made their own home entertainment. "Today, audiences still crave simply to listen to a tale well told." A Chicago native and University of Kansas graduate, Michéle's makes her home in a New York City suburb. She is a long time member of both actors' unions, Actors' Equity and SAG-AFTRA, in addition to being a published theater writer and book editor.