The Remonstrance and An Ego Alone for All Time


1845-1945, Dora Marsden, Freewoman, Historical Work, Trevor Blake / Wednesday, January 9th, 2019
The Remonstrance was published quarterly by the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women. This uncredited article from January 1912 associates suffrage with egoism. By January 1912, Dora Marsden had already published ten issues of her pro-egoist and anti-suffrage magazine The Freewoman. The reader is invited to make sense of it all.  – Trevor Blake

“I, AN INDIVIDUAL, AN EGO –”

“I, an individual, an Ego, alone for all time, I want to vote.”

So runs the basic form of argumentation recommended to deep- thinking suffragists in a recent letter from their national headquarters. It reveals at once the extreme individualism with which anti-suffragists have often charged the movement. It clings to the old idea of the vote as a “natural right,” not a responsibility laid on those who can best serve the community by exercising it. It claims the vote as a right of the essential being, in terms of the metaphysical world.

If it were only possible for Egos-alone-for-all-time to step out into the metaphysical world and exercise their rights, no one would dream of objecting.

But here we are, — together, as it seems to most of us, – not alone in the least. Bound up with each other’s concerns. Busied with very practical and concrete matters. Matters that tend to fall into the hands of the Egos that understand them best.

Says the Man-Voter: “Are you in the way of knowing much about railroads, and police, and fire-fighting and engineering and fisheries and shipping and road-making and sewerage and all the other lines of heavy work that government has to do with? Legislation isn’t all moral questions, you know. And by the way, can you enforce your laws after you have made them? Or do you expect me to do that?”

“Why should we trouble to talk about that?” says the Suffragist. “I, an Ego, alone for all time, want to vote.”

Says the indifferent woman: “I outnumber you, fifty to one. My hands are full now, I say ‘no’ every day to work that I should like to take up. I think the men of my community with all their faults, are making as good a job of its affairs as I should, – or as you would. If you vote, sooner or later I shall have to.”

“What of that?” says the Suffragist. “I, an Ego, alone for all time, want to vote.”

Says the Woman Opposed: “I think more is implied in your ‘political equality’ than you realize. I am afraid of the views of your extremists as to sex equality. I don’t see my way to admire your theories of ‘economic independence.’ I think an electorate half women would mean an unstable government. Frankly, I face the future for my children with far more courage as things now are than if you were voting.”

“All that is very tedious” says the Suffragist. “I, an Ego, alone for all time, want to vote.”

Says the Child: “Your friends make me promises. They will protect me from overwork. They will inspect my food. They will have my clothes made in clean places. But what will become of me if my mother must go out to work every day to prove that she is the equal of my father?”

“What business is that of mine?” says the Suffragist. “I, an Ego, alone for all time, want to vote.”