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Emma Goldman - Women's Rights - Women's Suffrage

Opposed on principle to all forms of government, Goldman saw little value in fighting for the right to participate in a system she found inherently oppressive. "Needless to say," she wrote, "I am not opposed to woman suffrage on the conventional ground that she is not equal to it. I see neither physical, psychological, nor mental reasons why woman should not have the equal right to vote with man. But that can not possibly blind me to the absurd notion that woman will accomplish that wherein man has failed."

Goldman strongly disagreed with the argument of many suffragists that women's participation would purify a corrupt political system. As she pointed out, women, too, could sell their votes, and female politicians could be bought as easily as men. In the few states in which women already had the right to vote, women had been guaranteed the right to own property, but "of what avail is that right to the mass of women without property, the thousands of wage workers, who live from hand to mouth?" Women's suffrage, Goldman believed, would at best be irrelevant; at worst, it diverted attention from more important issues and risked increasing the number of conservative voters.

  1. Emma Goldman, "Woman Suffrage," in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks: An Emma Goldman Reader, 3rd edition (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, Inc. 1996), pp. 192-3, and 195.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Emma Goldman - Women's Rights - Women's Suffrage." (Viewed on March 22, 2019) <https://jwa.org/womenofvalor/goldman/womens-rights/womens-suffrage>.


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