"What Is Feminine"
A suffrage speech by Mariana Folsom
Mariana Folsom was a Unitarian pastor who led a grassroots suffrage movement in Texas in the 1880s and 1890s. She traveled the state giving lectures like the handwritten speech seen here.
"What Is Feminine" addresses those who believe it is unfeminine for women to express their opinions. Folsom sarcastically questions God’s decision to give women "brains capable of developing thought" if those thoughts undermine her femininity.
Read the full text of the speech below.
"In this country there is an organization seeking to secure the ballot for women which has caused the organization of a remonstrant body opposed to women voting because, as they say, it is unfeminine for women to express their opinion where they will be counted.
In China there is a society seeking to secure feet for women by asking people to let their girls feet grow. This is called the Anti-foot-binding Society. Their discussion has caused there the organization of a remonstrance society because, as they say, it is unfeminine to permit women’s feet to grow.
What a mistake was made when God created women in giving them feet capable of moving their bodies easily, and brains capable of developing thought. What a lot of trouble it would save if these various remonstrants could only teach the Lord what is feminine and induce him to remedy these grave errors in the making of women.
Perhaps it would be just as well if the Lord would make all the people men as they are extolled for perfection."
Mariana Folsom, ca. 1898
Courtesy Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin
Time Period: 1866 - 1936
Exhibit: Sister Suffragists
This artifact is currently on view.