Marie Jenny Howe | Teen Ink

Marie Jenny Howe

March 10, 2021
By serenapei123 PLATINUM, San Jose, California
serenapei123 PLATINUM, San Jose, California
24 articles 5 photos 0 comments

Most women in our country today take the rights to suffrage for granted, but it hasn’t always been this easy. In the past, stereotypes of female inferiority severely hindered the empowerment of women in the political realm. Despite these difficulties, many brave people fought against these stereotypes, one such woman being Marie Jenny Howe. In 1913, she delivered a monologue to the New York Woman’s Suffrage Party and other suffrage organizations to attempt to rally them up in the fight of the women’s suffrage movement. Howe uses persona, parody, and reversal to satirically argue for women’s suffrage in a way that cleverly reframes and highlights the flaws in the anti-suffrage argument.

Howe’s takes on the persona of a man against women’s suffrage to make fun of their logic. To quote them, she says, “But I know women,” and continues with the anti-suffrage argument that women will “hang round the polls all the rest of the time” if they are allowed to vote. By acting like her opponent, she expresses irony in highlighting the fact that men think they know women, but they do not in reality. Howe successfully captures the flaw in the anti-suffrage argument because clearly, women will not always be at the polls if the polls are only once a year. In a funny manner, she attacks her opponents’ views by revealing the fundamental problem that they do not actually understand women even though they think they do. Howe acts out the perspective of an anti-suffrage man to show their foolish character and appeal to her audience in suffrage organizations, strengthening their beliefs for women’s suffrage.

Howe uses parody to play on certain words from men and turn them into a couplet structured argument. She says that “many men call [her] an angel,” agrees with them, and then presents the alternate choice that women are devilish. During the time, men would call women angels because they believed that women were weak and fragile. By ignoring the connotation of “angel” and choosing to focus on the literal definition of the word describing a physical, heavenly being, Howe twists the anti-suffrage argument and incorporates it into her own. This leaves her opponents with little ability to deny her point because she acknowledges and uses their words for her reasoning. Between the choice that women are angels or devils, men can only choose the first option or else they would be going against their own words. Howe uses the situation of women to her advantage by creating a parody to men’s opinion that makes it difficult for even men to deny in order to build her argument for women’s suffrage. 

Howe uses reversal in the end to reveal the true problem behind anti-suffrage arguments, which ultimately solidifies her position. She concludes her speech claiming that she has proved the opponent’s side in a “womanly way,” which means that she does not use “a single fact or argument or a single statistic.” From the beginning, she ironically plays the role of an anti-suffragist and reverses the flow of the speech at the end by suddenly switching positions. By using reversal, Howe surprises the public as they realize the flaw in anti-suffrage arguments, which is while men are looking down on women, they are being like women themselves. This reversal denies any validity of her opponent’s logic and establishes women’s suffrage as the only sensible view. Howe uses persona, parody, and reversal in a such a way that completely rejects the anti-suffrage argument leaves her opponents with little room to argue against her. As one of many activists, Howe’s actions contributed to the 19th amendment that granted women the right to vote. Although most women enjoy voting rights today, we should still work toward greater equality in many parts of the country.

The author's comments:

Rhetorical analysis of satire

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