Race, Femininity, and Moral Panics in History

Christen McCurdy’s final post in her “Lady Liquor” series at Bitch Magazine looks at three of the ways prohibitionists have exploited women and minorities:

“Female gin consumption was problematized and value-loaded as an act of moral significance,” writes Elise Skinner. “This is reflected in the response of magistrates and the disproportionate convictions of women. The perception of reformers and their attempt to regulate women is a complex interplay between the lives and economic realities of women, the influence of the press and the institution of government.”

Strange Bedfellows

Christen McCurdy at Bitch Magazine kicks off a multi-part series on “Ladies and Liquor” with a history of the Women’s Suffrage movement and its collaboration with Prohibition:

It wasn’t until the late 1960s that “the personal is political” became a feminist rallying cry, but the suffragists-cum-Prohibitionists and the Prohibitionists-cum-suffragists of the 19th century were already making an explicit connection between the two. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union – the leading temperance organization for most of the 19th century – advocated for women’s suffrage on the grounds of what she called “home protection”: if women had a voice in the way states controlled liquor, WCTU President Frances Willard argued, they’d be in a better position to keep their homes and families dry.


Stuart Armstrong of Practical Ethics makes an unlikely point based on the disparity between the 1920 100m Olympic record and that set this year by Usain Bolt:

In 1920, prohibition had just been instituted in the USA. Some women were voting for the first time, though most couldn’t (neither could most men, in fact). The British empire was at it’s [sic] height, communism had just triumphed in Russia (the only country in the world to legalise abortion), homosexuality was a crime in most places, GDP was about a 30th of what it is now, life expectancy was 54 in the USA and tuberculosis was incurable.

Even when things seem darkest for cause or country, I try to remember that the world was darker 100 years ago and will probably be brighter in the future. Pessimism is for pre-millenialists.

Also, theology jokes are fun.