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Lecture to explore messages of anti-suffrage movement

Friday, January 31, 2020

LAWRENCE — It is often overlooked that while women marched, protested and fight for their suffrage, organized female anti-suffrage groups actively sought to halt the advancement of their own rights.

These female anti-suffragists are the focus of Teri Finneman’s Feb. 3 lecture, “No Votes for Women.” This lecture is a continuation of the suffrage events series that began during the fall 2019 semester and will continue through the end of this academic year. Finneman, assistant professor in the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications and chair of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s History Division, organized the events. Other members of the AEJMC who were similarly interested in this topic served as resources for Finneman while she was planning the events.

“Certainly getting to know a number of other women across the country who also study the suffrage movement, we learn from each other,” Finneman said.

The lecture itself will focus on the tactics employed by women who participated in the anti-suffrage movement. While these tactics are historically important, they have modern-day effects as well.

“We take a look at some of the propaganda that they used, and we talk about it,” Finneman said, “and it’s interesting to see that some of these arguments I’ll talk about still come into play today.”

Finneman also will dispute several misconceptions that commonly surround the topic.

“I think a lot of people believe that men are the primary reason that it took 72 years for women to get the right to vote, and while many of them did not help, especially Congress, in reality, when you look at who was behind the official anti-suffrage organizations, they were led by other women,” Finneman said.

Additional topics surrounding the suffrage movement, such as generational divides and the original exclusion of women of color, also will be discussed.

Although Finneman’s lecture is centered around the historical women-led anti-suffrage movement of the early 1900s, the effect that both the suffrage and anti-suffrage movements had on society continues to this day, making her lecture a reminder that universal suffrage hasn’t always been a right.

“When you look at the percentage of people who turn out to vote every year, the numbers are really pretty dismal,” Finneman said, “and so I think it is really important for young women today to understand just what these women fought for to give young women today this right.”

“No Votes for Women” is from noon to 12:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3, in Stauffer-Flint Hall’s Clarkson Gallery and is open to the public. It is part of the Centennial Celebration of the 19th Amendment series of events.

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