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March 15, 2009



"All the time the aristocratic Suffragette is vehemently asserting that she will no longer be a toy, a doll, a dancing-girl, a merely ornamental thing, a pleasure, she is dressing more and more as if that were exactly what she was."

I think he is saying that they are dressing the part of "toy, doll, dancing-girl". Basically it sounds like he is calling them hypocrites.

the chaplain

Did Chesterton support or oppose suffragism? This matters because it makes a difference as to how one should interpret his remark. If he supported the movement, then his criticism can be taken as a constructive suggestion to comport them seriously if they wanted to be taken seriously. If he opposed them, however, his remark could be interpreted as a red herring, a diversion to get people to focus on how the suffragettes looked rather than on what they had to say. Diverting attention from issues to people is an age-old debating tactic. It's a trick, but it often works.


From what I can tell, he was on the fence. On one hand, he wasn't strictly opposed. On the other hand, he believed that women, by being good mothers, had just as much or even more power to change society than men did by being in or voting for Parliament, and thus it was unnecessary for women to vote.


Chesterton supported women being able to vote and participate in public life; however he did not support the women that he speaks of above- those who fought for women's rights but who contradicted their efforts by their clothing and behavior choices. These women he refers to would have been the very early "flappers."

Alexandra Foley

Here is my favorite Chesterton quotation on women and dress. I am not personally an all-skirt wearer, but when you read this, it does give one pause.

"It is quite certain that the skirt means female dignity,
not female submission; it can be proved by the simplest of all tests.
No ruler would deliberately dress up in the recognized fetters
of a slave; no judge would appear covered with broad arrows.
But when men wish to be safely impressive, as judges,
priests or kings, they do wear skirts, the long, trailing robes
of female dignity. The whole world is under petticoat government;
for even men wear petticoats when they wish to govern.

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