Well this is interesting.   My brother gave me a book about the history of alcohol prohibition for Christmas  (thanks, bro!) and while I’ve barely read more than a chapter yet, I’ve already learnt something new.  Apparently, the rise of the temperance movement in the US (which ultimately led to the 18th amendment) was closely intertwined with the women’s suffrage movement.  Alcohol abuse clearly had a big impact on women at a time when they didn’t have property rights, weren’t significant bread-winners in a family, and weren’t able to access divorce easily in cases of domestic violence and abuse.  According to Daniel Okrent, in Last Call, The Rise and Fall of Prohibition:

The most urgent reasons for women to want the vote in the mid-1800s were alcohol related: They wanted the saloons closed down, or at least regulated.  They wanted the right to own property, and to shield their families’ financial security from the profligacy of drunken husbands.  They wanted the right to divorce those men, and to have them arrested for wife-beating, and to protect their children from being terrorized by them.  To do all of these things they needed to change the laws that consigned married women to the status of chattel. And to change the laws, they needed the vote.

Advertisements