Many women fought against getting the vote, but none with more charm, prettier clothes—and less logic—than the fictional speaker in Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Satire. “Woman suffrage is the reform against nature,” proclaims our unlikely, but irresistibly likeable, heroine. “Ladies, get what you want. Make a scene. Make home a hell on earth—but do it in a womanly way! That is so much more dignified and refined than walking up to a ballot box and dropping in a piece of paper!”
Cheerfully single-minded, our guest speaker contradicts every point she makes as she crusades to preserve the Home and save the Nation from anarchy.
Written in 1912, by pro-suffragist Marie Jenney Howe, Someone Must Wash the Dishes is fully costumed, simply staged, and adaptable to almost any space and situation. An optional 20-minute lecture follows the 25-minute performance, putting the Antis and their arguments in the context of their time, and summarizing Howe’s career as a minister and a Progressive catalyst. A gratis talk back concludes the program.
Photos by Ken Smith of Quiet Heart Images
Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Satire is ideal entertainment for March, Women’s History Month; and Women’s Equality Day, August 26. Year-round, the production is frequently booked by women’s clubs and associations—among them, Leagues of Women Voters and AAUW branches. Its length and humor have made Someone Must Wash the Dishes a popular lunchtime event among corporate sponsors and EEO organizations. Frequent sponsors include libraries and historical societies, college and university women’s/gender studies programs, and senior/retirement groups.
Recommended for high school and home school students who have received classroom preparation.
Marie Jenney Howe’s satiric “An Anti-Suffrage Monologue” was published in 1913, by the National American Woman Suffrage Association (precursor of the League of Women Voters). Directed by Warren Kliewer, this production premiered in March 1994, at New York City’s Womenkind Festival IV. More than 200 past sponsors include the Missouri Historical Society in Saint Louis, the Newberry Library in Chicago, and Mohonk Mountain House resort in New York State.