Why Women Couldn't Vote

The top ten reasons women were denied the right to vote.

Written by Nelle Oosterom

October 19, 2015

It was only about a century ago that women in Canada began voting in general elections — first in Manitoba, then in other provinces and federally. The fight for women’s suffrage took place over many decades in Canada, the United States and Europe. In Great Britain, the subject was debated in the House of Commons no less than eighteen times between 1870 and 1904.

Whether women should vote was a hot topic in those days. Here are the top ten reasons put forward for why women should not have the right to vote.

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1. Too “ungodly”

Religious leaders stressed that “natural law” — as stated in the Christian Bible — was clear about women being subordinate to men.

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2. Too weak

Women did not have the physical strength of men, and therefore could not hold their own in the rough and tumble of politics. 

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3. Too redundant

If a married woman had taken a vow to obey her husband, then she would vote as he directed. In effect, this would give her husband two votes.

Colour painting depicts woman reclining with two well-behaved children at her side.

4. Too much of a distraction

Voting would drag women away from their domestic duties and their children. It was argued that voting would distract women from their roles as mothers and wives.

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5. Too vulnerable

If women won the vote and other rights, they would be equals and no longer under men’s protection. Too weak to defend themselves, they would be depressed.

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6. Too Unstable

Women would be over‐excited by politics and would have nervous breakdowns.

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7. Too Busy

Women were — or should have been — far too bust with their home and community duties to take part in politics

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8. Too Delicate

If women were on the electoral register they would have to serve on juries, and would hear things women should not hear — such as sex crimes.

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9. Too ignorant

Women knew nothing of trade, commerce, science, finance, the military or the law, and therefore had nothing to contribute to politics.

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10. Too Unladylike

Women would be hardened and sullies by politics and would become manly and unfeminine.

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