Fibre arts and Activism
But some suffragists used the imagery of needle arts to further their cause and appear non-threatening to anti-suffragists, who had decried them as "unsexed" and unwomanly. In 1920, after the 19th Amendment passed Congress and suffragists waited for individual states to ratify it, suffrage leader Alice Paul posed on the cover of Suffragist magazine as a modern-day Betsy Ross.
Paul "appeared as a domestic archetype: woman seated, wielding just the familiar threaded needle, eyes dropped demurely on the household chore," J.D. Zahniser and Amelia R. Fry wrote in "Alice Paul: Claiming Power."
The image projected a non-threatening stance by suffragists, Sapelly said. "It's like communicating, we're not going to stop being women if we get the vote," she said. "We'll still probably be sitting quietly in the sewing room and doing our needlework."
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