Famous Prima Donna Champions Woman Suffrage Cause

Here we have the story of a famous opera singer, Lillian Nordica, who supports a woman’s right to vote. I found it interesting that this article tries so hard to let the reader know that men have no need to worry about too much change if women are allowed to vote. There is the explicit reassurance that the right to vote won’t make women any less feminine. This is underscored by an intermittent narrative* throughout the article describing Nordica sewing during the interview, as though to say, “See? The suffragette still does womanly things.”

Here is a representative passage:

The end of the long hem of the curtain had been reached. It was examined, laid aside, and a new piece taken up.

“We don’t want to fight husbands and brothers.” A new needle was threaded with the skill born of long experience. “Women will always continue to depend upon their husbands and brothers. There is not the slightest danger that they will become masculine and independent in any unpleasant sense.

“No, the world misunderstands us, purposely, perhaps. We want to help, not to hinder our husbands or brothers — not to fight them. We want to work with them as their equals in arms in the great battles of life.

“Certainly we can be of greater assistance to them by entering intelligently into their lives than by being excluded from them.

“It does not follow that I will exercise every right I am allowed under the law. I have selected a certain work in the world and the granting of the suffrage to women would not cause me to forsake my art, and it is the same with all women. But I don’t want to feel that under the law I am nonentity in the community.”

Meanwhile there had been a number of interruptions, for Mme. Nordica is a housekeeper in fact as well as name, and a dozen questions of detail were brought to her.

“Housekeeping is very well in its way,” said the great singer, after one of these interruptions. “I enjoy it for one. A woman’s home, we are told, is her life. I believe that it is. But the suffrage will not interfere with that, will not cause her to neglect this obvious duty. We will agree that housekeeping is very important, but why should it keep women from going beyond that? The drudgery of housekeeping does not round out the fullest possible life for her.

*I guess you could say her sewing is a running thread.

FAMOUS PRIMA DONNA CHAMPIONS WOMAN SUFFRAGE CAUSE: Madame Lillian Nordica Talks Interestingly of the Movement, Which She Is Giving Her Enthusiastic Support (PDF)

From June 26, 1910

One response to “Famous Prima Donna Champions Woman Suffrage Cause”

  1. Wow. Things have changed and things have remained the same.
    Obviously a woman’s role in society is entirely different.
    But the way the article uses her sewing and housekeeping to play up the aspect of “things won’t change”, is the same way many organizations use an undertone to convey a message either explicitly or not. Interesting.


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