“They who have no voice nor vote in the electing of representatives do not enjoy liberty, but are absolutely enslaved to those who have votes.” ————–Benjamin Franklin
This is the first quote to appear in Alice Duer Miller’s final section of Are Women People?, The Unconscious Suffragists . She takes quotes from different people talking about universal representation and puts one after the other under this heading. She shows us that Benjamin Franklin’s words and everyone else’s, when looked at in the same book as women’s suffrage poems, logically support the movement of women voting, and would be hypocritical if they said otherwise, when this is what they say they believe.
Miller’s poetry in this book achieves a similar message as the excerpted quotes: That the reasonings for keeping women from voting were completely illogical and when truly analyzed, even humorous. The following will be a selection of poems from, Are Women People? by Alice Duer Miller and will demonstrate why Miller was considered to be such a witty and prolific poet who made a difference in the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
But before we get to enjoy her work, the poems from the book were actually first published in the New York Tribune in a column called Are Women People? (which makes sense), so I am going to also include some of her poems as they appeared in the column. I am doing this to get you thinking about how different forms of print might affect you, the reader. You might notice that the top half of the paper is full of political cartoons. How might that affect how you view Miller’s content below? Does it feel more light-hearted? Less serious than a poems in a book?
Or let’s look at this example. The column on the top left is entitled, “Scientific Dieting,” and the first sentence in it is, “First week–I am done with a meat diet.” How might that affect how you perceive what this paper publishes? What about the cartoon? What I am trying to get at here is that it is not just the content of something that affects our perception of it. As human beings, we can judge quickly and use previous assumptions to influence new ones. It is important to take into account our preconceptions about things, especially when we look back at something like a newspaper from history. In present day, we know that, “scientific dieting” is completely unfounded and our knowledge of that today might affect how seriously we take this paper, when back in 1916, this might have been something to be taken more seriously.
In comparison with those newspaper renditions, we now have some poems as they appeared in the book. It is just the text. No images to look at. How might this affect how you respond to Miller’s work? A book is built to be more long-lasting than a newspaper, so that might influence the thought, “this is important enough that people wanted to make sure they would have it for years. It takes much more to publish a book of poems than it does to publish them in a newspaper. Which do you think is a better setting for Alice Duer Miller’s poetry? What might be the positives and negatives for both forms of media?
“Alice Duer Miller.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Sept. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Duer_Miller.
Miller, Alice Duer. “Are Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times : University of California Libraries, 1874-1942 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming.” Internet Archive, New York, George H. Doran Company, 1 Jan. 1970, archive.org/details/arewomenpeople00millrich/page/n75/mode/1up.
Miller, Alice Duer. “Are Women People?” New York Tribune, 2 July 1916, chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1916-07-02/ed-1/seq-40/.
Miller, Alice Duer. “Are Women People?” New York Tribune, 13 August 1916, chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1916-07-02/ed-1/seq-40/.