Jane Addams was a progressive activist, reformer and writer, and an important figure in the settlement house movement of the early 20th century. She was an advocate for women’s suffrage and pacifism. She was a cofounder of Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago which offered housing and educational courses for people in the area.
In “If Men Were Seeking the Franchise,” Addams contemplates what might happen if the gendered power structure in the United States were inverted. She demonstrates the way that men as a group could be detrimental to a country if stereotypically “male” traits were used as a basis to judge the entire gender (such as propensity to violence, disregard for sanitary working conditions). She concludes by offering an inversion of standard arguments against a woman’s right to vote in the era; “If the women should say, first, that men would find politics corrupting; second, that they would doubtless vote as their wives and mothers did; third, that men’s suffrage would only double the vote without changing results; fourth, that men’s suffrage would diminish the respect for men; fifth, that most men do not want to vote; sixth, that the best men would not vote?” But this is not her concluding argument. She says that to argue such things would be to view men as an inferior class instead of as fellow human beings.
What would Addams say to the argument that men are naturally suited for some positions while women are suited for others?