Caption: “Arms versus the Army,” Pro-Suffrage Cartoon by Lou Rogers, n.d., Suffrage Collection, Box 2, Folder 12, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.
Classroom Discussion Questions:
1. How does this image make a case for women’s right to vote?
2. How does the baby add to this argument? Would the cartoon be able to make the same point without the baby? Is there a relationship between the baby and the soldier?
3. Does this image align with traditional gender roles and separate sphere ideology? Why or why not?
This is a political cartoon by Lou Rogers (1879-1952), a female cartoonist who was a proponent of the women’s suffrage movement. Her cartoons were published in such journals as The Suffragist as well as more mainstream papers. This particular cartoon aimed to advance the women’s suffrage cause by showing that women deserved the vote because of their specificities as women. The image, paired with the caption, show that women are even more integral to the state than men: without mothers there would be no armies. It is not clear which paper this particular cartoon was published in, but the types of imagery this cartoon uses imply its desire to make suffrage palatable to a mainstream audience or to tentative suffrage advocates who did not want to be seen as unsexed by their support. Through this image, women could show that suffrage was compatible with traditional female roles. This cartoon was created at a moment where many women, artists or otherwise, began (to use Alice Sheppard’s term) “cartooning” for suffrage. These cartoons made the argument for women’s right to vote in many different ways, representing women as mothers, wives, independent women, activists, etc. The focus on the mother in this cartoon can illuminate much about the gender roles in place in the early 20th century as well as how these roles affected the imagery of the women’s suffrage movement.
After examining this cartoon, how do the two following newspaper clippings both reinforce and complicate what we have learned?
Teaching Aids: Other resources pertaining to this topic, including both pro- and anti-suffrage cartoons from a number of viewpoints, exist in the Suffrage Collection. For more pro-suffrage cartoons, see Box 2: Folder 12-13. For more information on the white house pickets, see Box 2: Folder 10.
1. Cooney, Robert. Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Women Suffrage Movement. Santa Cruz: American Graphic Press, 2005.
This book gives a good general overview of the fight for the vote in America. Of special interest to understanding this item are the sections exploring the years 1910-1920.
2. Adams, Katherine H. Alice Paul and the American Suffrage Campaign. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008.
This book details Alice Paul’s campaign for women’s suffrage through non-violent protest.
3. Sheppard, Alice. Cartooning for Suffrage. University of New Mexico Press, 1994.
This book deals specifically with the phenomenon of women taking up pen and paper to create cartoons in favor of suffrage and in this way helps to situates this Lou Rogers cartoon within a specific moment and movement of female cartoonists.