Instrumentalism v. Justice


Instrumentalism v. Justice


In a video presentation for @emilyslist today, Senator Tammy Baldwin said: “We’ll see what a difference it makes when more women are elected.” 🤔 What difference, actually? If the answer is none, is there reason to elect more women? Let’s take a look back... 🧵

That women’s political power would generate _different_ outcomes than men’s was an argument for suffrage across the life of the movement. It was expressed as a belief that women would vote for peace and against liquor; that women’s votes would be good for children and families.

Scholars call this the “instrumental” or “expedient” argument for suffrage. It existed alongside the justice-oriented claim that suffrage was an inherent right of citizenship: women were citizens, created equal, and thus should have access to political rights.

The two arguments waxed and waned over the decades, and there are interesting debates about which one dominated when and why. Both were always present in some form. I was sad to learn that Aileen Kraditor died in early March, just as the pandemic took hold.

Kraditor argued for a sharp delineation between the two approaches in her book “The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement 1890-1920.” First published in 1965, it significantly influenced the study of the movement. Here’s the cover of the 1971 paperback edition. #19thAmendment


Daily Suffragist




-2- Daily Suffragist on Twitter- -In a video presentation for -emilyslist today- Senator Tammy Baldwin said- “We’ll see what a difference it makes when more women are elected-” 🤔 What difference- actually- If the answer is none- is.png


Daily Suffragist, “Instrumentalism v. Justice,” Daily Suffragist, accessed September 27, 2022,

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