In 1869, Currier & Ives, the era’s most famous printmaker, published The Age of Brass, or The Triumphs of Woman’s Rights to depict what would happen if women won equality (figure I.1). This print depicts a group of elite white women as they gather to cast their ballots. Some wear enormous bows around their necks and towering, unwieldy hairstyles. To wear such absurd feminine fashions, the picture implies, they must be irrational and ignorant of important issues. Other women in the image have a masculine aesthetic—top hats, bloomers, morning jackets—to prompt laughter from viewers at their cross-dressing antics. On the right, an angry woman, whose glasses signal her education, scolds her shocked husband, the only man in sight. To viewers used to idealized images of women, she would have appeared ugly. Instead of caring for her family, as she should according to the day’s social norms, the woman abandons her baby with her husband in order to engage in politics. To reiterate that women’s rights would lead to the submission of men, a sandwich board advises women to cast their ballots for “Susan Sharp Tongue,” the “celebrated man tamer.”...
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