Man: A Menace to the Population
Misti Ellinger, SUNY Buffalo State
My blackout poetry submission is based on the deconstruction of a historical document that highlights the oppression women faced in the early 1900s.
The document, Women’s Suffrage: A Menace to the Male Population was written by Herbert N. Carleton of West Newbury, Massachusetts. The opinion in the original letter highlights societal patriarchal themes, sexism of the period, and the clear oppression of women in the United States.
While this letter would have ensued rage in many Suffragettes, I would hope that the women angered by his messages in 1900 would enjoy this poetry, which spins this letter 180 degrees through deduction, highlighting the patriarchy in America which is still reflected today.
I retrieved the original letter from the Boston Athenaeum, which may be viewed here.
Below is a transcript of my work:
Man: A menace to the population
Men pretend they are on equal footing.
Intolerable restrictions on the woman, deliberate, just as atrocious.
A denied crime, SHE, as a victim of misfortune under man.
Woman could appease and go unpunished, partly sentenced to death.
Dominance over women, under the guise of public function…
PREVENT THE MASCULINE SEX FROM PLEASURES
BITTERLY RESENT THE PRESENCE OF MEN
The universally observed fact…Man is simply admired by the world!
Laws enacted, forbidding males the pleasure of whipping girls would undoubtedly be prohibited.
While boys continue in order.
The denial of woman suffrage is necessary to enable men artfully, to conceal the favored class.
Man, in vogue, owning property.
Men have to be subjected to the unpalatable truths, which the conventional either deny or ignore.
His rise in this country since its first settlement.