"Fine Dignity, Picturesque Beauty, and Serious Purpose": The Reorientation of Suffrage Media in the Twentieth Century
Master of Arts (MA)
Semester of Degree Completion
Lynne E. Curry
Throughout the first half century of the woman's suffrage movement, the women of the movement were depicted as dastardly, masculine women who usurped the family structure with their penchant for politics. In the twentieth century, a new generation of woman's suffragists took command of their appearance in the media. Instead of controversial figures, woman's suffragists were envisioned as normal, beautiful women and mothers. Through the use of mass media, woman suffragists restructured their campaign to convince the general public that society needed women to clean up politics. In doing so, suffragists sacrificed their goals of sexual equality in favor of their particular femininity. They celebrated their gender as the particular reason that they needed the vote, unlike earlier suffragists who declared that they deserved it. Using film, postcards, illustrations, and public demonstrations, suffragists created a comprehensive campaign that reached millions with the singular message that enfranchisement would be both politically significant and a natural extension of feminine virtues. Though the woman's suffrage movement in the twentieth century was one of modern means, the message was fundamentally traditional.
Scarbrough, Emily, ""Fine Dignity, Picturesque Beauty, and Serious Purpose": The Reorientation of Suffrage Media in the Twentieth Century" (2015). Masters Theses. 2033.
Social Influence and Political Communication Commons, United States History Commons, Women's Studies Commons