In the new book Public Faces, Secret Lives: A Queer History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement (NYU Press, 2022) Wendy L. Rouse of San Jose State University reveals that the suffrage movement included individuals who represented a range of genders and sexualities. However, owing to the constant pressure to present a “respectable” public image, suffrage leaders publicly conformed to gendered views of ideal womanhood in order to make women’s suffrage more palatable to the public.
Rouse argues that queer suffragists did take meaningful action to assert their identities and legacies by challenging traditional concepts of domesticity, family, space, and death in both subtly subversive and radically transformative ways. Queer suffragists also built lasting alliances and developed innovative strategies in order to protect their most intimate relationships, ones that were ultimately crucial to the success of the suffrage movement.
The Massachusetts Historical Society will host Rouse for a talk about the book on Wednesday, June 1st. This program will begin at 6 pm and will be held via Zoom. For more information or to register, click here.
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