“Should Men Vote?”

Clever Canadian suffragist claimed that men were "made for something higher than voting." Whatever happened to satire in speeches?

Satirical rhetoric thrives on TV (see Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert). So why is it dead in speeches?

Was it ever alive?

It was in 1914, according to a recent rediscovery by women’s rhetoric popular scholar Denise Graveline. Canadian feminist Nellie McClung responded to a prominent politician’s claim that women’s suffrage would “break up the home.” Her speech was titled, “Should Men Vote?”

Oh, no, man is made for something higher and better than voting … The trouble is that if men start to vote, they will vote too much. Politics unsettle men and unsettled men means unsettled bills, broken furniture, broken vows, and divorce. Men's place is on the farm … if men were to get the vote, who knows what would happen? It's hard enough to keep them home now!

Vital Speeches would love to publish a speech like that today. (I know. I’m the editor.)

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