Nov. 3 is a big day for the nation — Americans will take to the polls to decide who they want to occupy the White House.
It will also be 100 years and one day from the first time that women in the U.S. were allowed to participate in a presidential election. Perhaps even more serendipitously, Florida’s primary elections on Aug. 18 coincided with the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave (some) women the right to vote.
“If a woman was single, she probably was paying taxes but still wasn’t allowed to vote. Whereas if she was married you essentially didn’t have any rights,” said Monica Elliott, the president of the League of Women Voters of Broward County.
Women having the right to vote was a radical idea — women weren’t seen as educated or emotionally stable enough to do something as important as vote. Plus, they had their husband to speak for them, so why would they need to vote anyway?
The 19th Amendment was a major moment in women’s suffrage, but it was just the beginning. Women of color would have to wait a few more decades until they could vote, and even today there are still less obvious barriers keeping people from casting their vote.
However, even 100 years after the first big step in women’s suffrage, there are those who think that maybe we had it right back then — including women.
During the second night of the Republican National Convention in August, the GOP gave the stage to Abby Johnson, a woman who left Planned Parenthood in 2009 and has been fighting against abortion ever since. This same woman, who was given such a prominent spotlight, has openly said she believes in head-of-household voting.
Back in May, she tweeted a question to her followers: What’s the most controversial thing you believe? She answered her own question, saying she believes in head-of-household voting. She then explained that means one vote per household.
When criticized for her belief, she replied, “Yes. So shocking! A husband and wife who are in agreement and a wife who honors her husband as the head of the home. Gasp!! What a weird, biblical concept!!”
(How this idea would play out for same-sex couples is yet to be seen).
Ann Coulter, a far-right pundit and author, has also shared her wish that the 19th Amendment had never happened. In more than one interview, she has made jokes about how the Republicans would be a shoo-in if women weren’t allowed to vote.
“If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen,” she said in 2007. “And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.”
In 2012, during an interview with the Jackson Free Press, Central Mississippi TEA Party President Janis Lane scorned the day women got the right to vote.
“Probably the biggest turn we ever made was when the women got the right to vote,” she said, then explained, “our country might have been better off if it was still just men voting. There is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how [they] can skewer a person. I do not see that in men. The whole time I worked, I’d much rather have a male boss than a female boss. Double-minded, you never can trust them.”
These women join the ranks of generations of women who are against equality and women’s suffrage. While suffragettes marched, smashed windows and made bombs, other women stood up to say they didn’t want the right to vote — they were too busy running the household to keep up with politics.
You can even buy a shirt on Amazon to show your disapproval of the 19th Amendment (although, there are complaints about the quality of the fabric).
“This isn’t the first time that we’ve had to deal with this,” said Elliott from the League of Women Voters. “I’m of a certain age where I remember Phyllis Schlafly and her argument against the Equal Rights Amendment, which we still don’t have passed.”
A noted conservative activist who died in 2016, Schlafly opposed feminism and proudly stopped the adoption of the ERA, which would have put men and women on the same plane in legal matters. She believed that it went against gender roles that benefited society and protected it from “homosexual privileges” and abortion.
“News flash: one reason a woman gets married is to be supported by her husband while caring for her children at home. So long as her husband earns a good income, she doesn’t care about the pay gap between them,” Schlafly said in 2015.
Today, these women’s beliefs seem outlandish, and frankly, they’re in the minority. However, they’re loud members of a minority who are consistently given megaphones to espouse these views.
Unfortunately for them, American women voters tend to turn out to vote at higher rates than men. At the local level, there are 643,730 women registered to vote in Broward County, out of the 1.2 million total — that’s more than half.
Nov. 3, here we come.