Ray Frank - Paradoxical Positions - Opposition to Women's Rights

Frank's main objection to women taking on both greater political and economic roles was typical for her day: she argued that the home, women's primary responsibility, would suffer if female attention was focused elsewhere. Consistent with this belief, she allowed for exceptions in the case of unmarried women, who did not have husbands and children to care for. In a newspaper interview, she said,

"'I believe in all forms of intellectual progress...but I am not a suffragist. I do not believe that a woman can properly fulfil her home duties and be out in the world too.'

"'What about unmarried women?'" the interviewer asked. "'You would scarcely deny to them the right of going out into the world and making a career for themselves?'"

"'No, I would not,'" Frank replied. "'I believe in women whom circumstances do not permit to marry becoming independent and adopting professions: but I do not believe in their being taken up by married women. Married women cannot do both things—attend to their home and follow a profession. So far as my experiences goes, those who have attempted the two have invariably failed in one. Usually it is the home that suffers. There might be a limited suffrage for unmarried women.... Understand, I believe in the intellectual and educated woman, whatever her sphere of life is to be. A woman cannot be too highly trained for her duties.... Their intellectual powers must be made first to illumine their homes and afterwards the world beyond."

Frank also argued that women were not intellectually prepared for the vote. "[I]f woman has been under the control of man as to be dominated by him, as the suffragists claim," she wrote, "then she is not in the proper frame of mental development to go into politics and assist in the control of the nation. She ought to begin a preparatory course." Regarding the leadership of the suffrage movement, she said, "[O]ne great thing against the woman suffrage movement is that it is carried on by women who have no mental training. It might be different if the cause were espoused by college-bred women with some philosophic grasp. But most of the agitators one comes across are silly and volatile. At best, they only know their own side of the question; they have not the capacity to see the other side, and they are deficient in the powers of organisation."

  1. Interview and final quote from "Jewesses of To-Day: Ray Frank, the Jewish Lady Preacher," Israel: The Jewish Magazine, April 1899: 23-25.
  2. Quote beginning "If woman has been under..." cited in Simon Litman, Ray Frank Litman: A Memoir (New York: American Jewish Historical Society, 1957), 55.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Ray Frank - Paradoxical Positions - Opposition to Women's Rights." (Viewed on May 19, 2024) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/frank/paradoxical-positions/opposition-to-womens-rights>.