Jennifer Malloy, p. 3.

Punch, 60 (June 10,1871):241

es some women are silly, and it is hard to tell why the Almighty made them,unless it was to match some of the men!"-Anna Dickinson Four years after the National Association for Women's Suffrage was formed, W. Ralston published a cartoon entitled "At the Academy" in Punch, Volume 60, 1871. Having brought his two daughters to the prestigious Royal Academy of Art for the afternoon, 'Papa' is chastised for forcing them to peruse 'horrid' pictures on account of the 'unfashionable' hour of their arrival. Ralston strikes a jab at women in the public sphere through his drawings by representing young ladies as thoroughly without appreciation for the intellectual and artistic elite, concerned solely with contemporary social fashion. Although fairly subtle, in that Ralston chooses to criticize young ladies rather than British matrons in the public domain, the Victorian reader would understand the cartoonist's message that women entering the public domain, i.e. politics, would use it purely for social purposes and fail to grasp the inherent import of a traditionally male sphere of influence.

Jacob Bright, for one, has disputed such inferences concerning the lack of female intellectual and artistic integrity. He maintains that women have not been extended opportunities similar to those accorded to males, and thus should not be condemned for their ignorance "until the experiment has been fairly tried, and it has never yet been fairly tried." He in turn provides examples of female accomplishment in the arts, including the paintings of Rosa Bonheur and the musical prowess of Mendelssohn's sister. "

Punch, 99 (July 5,1890):6

A Practical Memento," by George du Maurier, published in Punch Volume 99, 1890, provides the reader with yet another example of female silliness depicted by the artists of this journal. A mother and daughter are answering inquiries from an older gentleman regarding a trip from which they have just returned. In response to whether or not they had journeyed to Rome, the daughter reminds her mother that they had indeed traveled to that old city, for it was there they had purchased a pair of stockings. Apparently the architecture, the history, the grandeur of an ancient civilization failed to impress the two women greatly enough; their landmark was fashion-oriented. Du Maurier's title is even mocking-- to journey to Rome and come away with a pair of stockings is surely practical is it not? Or does the nature of the memento imply that the ladies were unable to truly appreciate their situation? It is material like the above which fans flames of arguments supporting the fact that women are too silly and frivolous to use the franchise wisely. Arguments that persist despite evidence to the contrary. "If women are exceptionally silly, how is it that the highest political power sometimes (as now, in the British Empire) devolves upon a woman [Queen Victoria]? Surely if a woman is fit to attain the highest, she is also fir to stand on the lowest, step of the political ladder."

Punch, 95 (28 July,1888):46

Hysteria has long been associated with women and the irrationality, etc., that is said to characterize the 'weaker' sex. "Our Village Industrial Competition," by Charles Keene in 1888, Punch Volume 95, is a representative work of the Victorian period. The rational husband soothes his hysterical 'angel' after she was voted worst cake baker in the village. The anecdote below the picture alone is rife with Victorian gender prejudices. The characterization of 'wife' as 'angel' is appropriate to the period, as is that of 'female' as 'hysteric,' which supports the stereotype that "women ought not be entrusted with a vote, because they were liable to panic."

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[Victorian initial "Y" by Harlan Wallach ©copyright 1994.]