What if Women Had Voted on Women's Suffrage?

G.K. Chesterton thought that the matter of the vote for women should be left to a vote of women.

G.K. Chesterton’s What’s Wrong with the World contains a section of feminism.  By way of providing an accurate preview of what’s to come, he titled it “Feminism, Or the Mistake about Woman.”  Yes, G. K. Chesterton had his differences with the feminist movement, then in its infancy.  Chief among his differences was the mistaken view (in his view) that there were no differences between the sexes.

Were the differences that he saw a matter of nature or nurture?  Chesterton does not wade, much less charge, into that thicket.  He simply assumes that differences exist.  He also assumes that those differences are important, vital to a good society, and well worth preserving.

His take on those differences also led Chesterton to have his differences with the suffragist movement in England.  One of those differences was to use the less preferred term, suffragette, in reference to them.  Preferred or less preferred term aside, the key difference was his opposition to the vote for women.

Whatu2019s Wrong with ... G. K. Chesterton Best Price: $7.94 Buy New $4.78 (as of 12:10 EDT - Details) Are you still reading?  I hope so, because his thoughts on the twin subjects of feminism and the male-female difference (or the lack thereof) are worth exploring, whether one agrees or disagrees.  But first let’s put a Chesterton counter-proposal on the table.  He

Chesterton found it more than curious that male politicians wanted women to be able to vote on everything, except for the question of granting women the right to vote!  Maybe those same politicians had the same suspicion that Chesterton did.  And just what was that?  Chesterton suspected that if women alone could vote on the issue of granting the suffrage to women that it would be defeated.

Why?  Because he presumed that women understood that the vote was not something of great importance.  Most men (but not Chesterton) thought differently.  Most men, thought Chesterton, regarded the vote as something of “frightful importance.”  But they didn’t think that women would ever believe them.  Did they?

There might have been an answer to that question if women had had the opportunity to vote on the subject.  But Chesterton’s proposal was never adopted.  Instead, men eventually voted to give women the vote.  Chesterton drew the following conclusion from the result: Having told women that the vote was of frightful importance, men extended the franchise to women.  As a result, a “terrible thing happened to men: we won.”

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