Drinking, smoking, hanging out in saloons, following sports and the stock market — it’s a nightmare world!

In 1908, Harry Dart was commissioned to produce an image of what horrors would be produced by the suffrage movement. I guess he succeeded?

Apparently, the worst thing he could imagine was that women might do the very same things men did all the time. I’m supposed to recoil from this unthinkable future…but it’s just fascinatingly detailed.


  1. says

    Reminds me of a post I saw elsewhere on social media, to the effect that the most hopeful headlines in the news today are the ones right-wingers use to try to scare each other. (The illustration was of a headline saying “More College Students Now Identify As Queer Than Republican”.)

  2. says

    Oh, incidentally, in case nobody here otherwise mentions it: this picture has a couple of suggestions that beer would be an unwomanly drink, which of course is ironic because beer was once very much a women’s drink — most of the Halloween stereotypes of witches are things which woman beer-brewers used to be associated with (conical hats, cauldrons, IIRC even brooms). When it was discovered that there was money in selling beer to industrial laborers, there was a heavy campaign to declare beer exclusively masculine. Obviously it had taken full effect by 1908.

  3. hemidactylus says

    There is a touch of horror for me personally (trigger moment):

    “Cigarettes were described as symbols of emancipation and equality with men. The term was first used by psychoanalyst A. A. Brill when describing the natural desire for women to smoke and was used by Edward Bernays to encourage women to smoke in public despite social taboos. Bernays hired women to march while smoking their “torches of freedom” in the Easter Sunday Parade of 1929 which was a significant moment for fighting social barriers for women smokers.”


    Can’t really put my characteristic sarcasm into that after watching my mom die after her third bout with lung cancer. As a matter of equality my dad died a few years (many tears) later as a result of emphysema.

  4. Zeppelin says

    I’m mainly impressed by how impeccably dressed and coiffed all these women are. All still wearing their coats and massive hats, too. You’d think they’d let their hair down a bit at a bar.

  5. Walter Solomon says

    This cartoon leads to wonder how many Suffragists were also part of the Temperance Movement.

  6. brucej says

    @1: LOL, Like the conservative in California warning us if “Hillary wins, all those Mexicans will invade and there will be Taco Trucks on every corner!”

  7. freemage says

    I’m almost impressed–most of those anti-suffrage cartoons I’ve seen usually opt to portray the women as haggish crones with twisted, snarling features and mannish builds–playing up the bitter spinster angle. Here, the ladies are drawn as pleasantly and varied in face and body as you might see in any other illustration of the day.

  8. John Morales says


    Here, the ladies are drawn as pleasantly and varied in face and body as you might see in any other illustration of the day.

    Which ain’t saying much.
    What I see is that every single one is draped from neck to toe, including gloves — and every one is behatted. And of pale complexion.

  9. microraptor says

    Walter Solomon @5 & 6: The temperance movement was always linked to women’s suffrage. Many Suffragists promoted temperance as a means of combating domestic violence: the fact that some men beat their wives wasn’t something that was acceptable to talk about but if it were framed as being the result of drinking it was more tolerable.

  10. seleukos says

    Did he really succeed? The subtitle of the painting is “For the benefit of those ladies who ask the right to smoke in public”. 111 years later it is no longer legal for people (either men or women) to smoke in most public places.

  11. microraptor says

    I have to wonder if that cartoon is actually a parody or a stealth commentary by the artist.

  12. gijoel says

    We have to go back in time and stop this ghastly future. Purple hats with fur stolls, what were they thinking!

  13. DonDueed says

    Presumably a “Hot Maud and Eliza” was some sort of beverage (or a parody of some then-popular beverage), rather than what might come to mind in 2019.

    Only two bits!

  14. says

    “Oh Mother, dear Mother, come home with us now!
    The clock in the steeple strikes one…”

    I bought a notebook at a thrift shop once that had been the property of a high-school student in the teens or twenties, and there was an aspirational drawing of a young woman with ringlets and a cigarette in a margin. As coincidence would have it, the woman, now a senior, lived next to a friend of mine, so I took it over to her (and she probably tossed it in the trash after I left, since taking it to the thrift shop hadn’t rid her of it). In retrospect, it was interesting to see how an adolescent was modeling this liberated behavior, as no doubt many of her cohort were as well. It never occurred to me at the time to talk to her about it. I felt like I’d invaded her privacy by looking at it, I think.

  15. wzrd1 says

    The reality of it managed to be, what is today, men and women talk stupid shit, while getting drunk at a bar or function.
    Left stupid shit, right stupid shit or centrist stupid shit.
    And the cows laid down with the sheep or something stupid. ;)

    Each stupid shit layer stratified, forming their own caste.
    Upon the caste system, a Trump was hurled upon, an immense amount of dogshit…
    Sanitation systems were overwhelmed.
    Alas, his version of pump out the swamp was pumping in raw sewage.

  16. John Morales says

    wzrd1: you don’t seem to get it.

    The reality of it managed to be, what is today, men and women [blah]

    Precisely. Men and women, not men only.

    The cartoon shows women only, which evinces that sort of zero-sum thinking that is the hallmark of the reactionary; each time a new category of people seeks to gain the same rights as those hitherto privileged, they imagine that entails that the respective roles are switched.

    In passing, it appears that you think in terms or left, right or center — i.e. in one dimension only.

  17. lochaber says

    This reminds me of that “This is the Future Liberals Want” pic that went viral a short while back.
    If I remember correctly, I believe it was a photo of a drag performer seated next to a woman in conservative Islamic dress, and generally everybody looking slightly bored and annoyed, as one does on public transit.

  18. lucifersbike says

    @2 The Vicar. The family name Brewster, like the word spinster, is an old feminine word precisely because brewing was a female occupation back when beer was safer to drink than water. A lot of medieval history can be explained by the fact that everybody in Europe was slightly drunk all the time.

  19. rq says

    “No scrapping allowed on premises.” Well, fine, but if I can’t put my cigar butts in the free lunch, where should I put them?

  20. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Sort of reminds me of the Numbnutz Hispanic Trump supporter who said that if we didn’t control our border, we’d have taco trucks on every corner–which, if you like food that doesn’t taste like cardboard, sounds more like a campaign promise.

    And then there was the story they had on NPR from Trump country in upstate New York where the populace was up in arms pleading with Trump to build Wall (not the wall or a wall, but Wall) to protect them from the ebil hordes of brown people rampaging across the border…the Mexican border…2000 miles away from them, 30 miles from the Canadian border.

    They say that the brains of conservatives respond more strongly to negative emotions like fear, disgust, etc. Can you imagine going through life so scared of everything. No wonder they’re such nasty assholes!

  21. drst says

    @Walter Solomon & microraptor – it was more than just the domestic violence aspect. The laws at the time said any money women earned was, like they were, the property of their husbands. A woman married to an alcoholic had to surrender any money she earned to a man who would blow it all on what counted as booze (which was also incredibly dangerous as it was unregulated and a lot of people died from drinking contaminated or dangerous shit). Some of the first court cases about women being allowed to keep their own earnings played heavily on the plight of the wife and mother who was trying to take care of her children only to have her husband waste it all on drinking.

    Also white middle and upper class women were supposed to devote themselves to charitable causes, including attending meetings and organizing events. Those women engaging in the temperance movement, like the abolitionists before the Civil War, found other women, discovered the strength in organizing around a cause, and many of them became committed to suffrage in the process.

  22. fusilier says

    I’d just like to point out that My Beloved and Darling Wife and I met at a bar.

    OK, they had a live band and a dance floor the size of a postage stamp, but it was Quarter Beer Night.


    James 2:24

  23. fishy says

    If the artist was really interested in exploring role-reversal, he should have went the full-monty, so to speak, and created something that showed men doing all the myriad things women did everyday. Of course, he may have had no idea what women did all day.

  24. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @18:

    The cartoon shows women only,

    At first glance I was all sarcastic thinking “oh the horror [smirk], after reading 18, I realized I missed how menz were excluded. IE Very binary thinking. Cartoon is suggesting that letting women drink and smoke means all salons will be womenz only with all men excluded; just the reverse of the times.
    Presenting the bottom of the proverbial slippery slope and not the more pleasant mid point, where the bottom is of a U shape and not a \ straight line.

    re 29:
    male strip tease would have been too prurient for an editorial cartoon, I guess. .

  25. ridana says

    @ A. Noyd (#25):
    Yes, I got that, but why fudge and almonds? I guess salted almonds could make you thirsty, but somehow fudge doesn’t sound very appetizing with beer. A nice cold glass of milk would go better.

  26. JustaTech says

    John Morales @10: Which just shows that it’s full satire and not creatively envisioning the future. It may be a bar full of women, but they’re still segregated by race and social class, and wearing (then) current styles. Corsets don’t have to be instruments of torture (if they’re fitted correctly), but at the end of the day you still have to put your shoes on before your corset, and that limits your mobility. If the artist really wanted to run with it then all the women would also be in “Rational Dress” or Bloomer Dresses or even bicycle costumes.

    Can you imagine what he’d think of fashions since the 1970’s? Pants!

  27. woodsong says

    Yes, this is certainly a role-reversal concept.

    Slithy tove, you mention male strip tease as a step too far for the artist’s portrayal–did you notice the pinup of a male boxer above the bar?

    Did anyone else notice the sign above the door in the back wall? “Gentlemen’s Parlor”. Not only is this a women-only bar, the men are restricted to the parlor to do what? I suspect the artist had no idea. Drink tea with cake, perhaps?

  28. A. Noyd says

    ridana (#31)

    but somehow fudge doesn’t sound very appetizing with beer.

    How about with tobacco (chewed or smoked) and cocktails, though? Those seem to be the favored products in the pictured saloon.