Alice Duer Miller was an American poet and writer. Her book, Are Women People? is a feminist work that subverts dominating patriarchal ideas of the early twentieth century using satirical verse.
These poems penned around 1915 still resonate with the global feminist movement that is fighting for the basic rights of women to work, to learn and to be in control of their decisions and bodies.
And what better than Anne Taintor Images to go with it!
The Revolt of Mother
(“Every true woman feels—” – Speech of almost any Congressman.)
I AM old-fashioned, and I think it right
That man should know, by Nature’s laws eternal,
The proper way to rule, to earn, to fight,
And exercise those functions called paternal;
But even I a little bit rebel
At finding that he knows my job as well.
At least he’s always ready to expound it,
Especially in legislative hall,
The joys, the cares, the halos that surround it,
“How women feel” — he knows that best of all.
In fact his thesis is that no one can
Know what is womanly except a man.
I am old-fashioned, and I am content
When he explains the world of art and science
And government — to him divinely sent
I drink it in with ladylike compliance.
But cannot listen — no, I’m only human —
While he instructs me how to be a woman.
The Gallant Sex
(A woman engineer has been dismissed by the Board of Education, under their new rule that women shall not attend high pressure boilers, although her work has been satisfactory and she holds a license to attend such boilers from the Police Department.)
LADY, dangers lurk in boilers,
Risks I could not let you face.
Men were meant to be the toilers,
Home, you know, is woman’s place.
Have no home? Well, is that so?
Still, it’s not my fault, you know.
Charming lady, work no more;
Fair you are and sweet as honey;
Work might make your fingers sore,
And, besides, I need the money.
Prithee rest, – or starve or rob –
Only let me have your job!
The Maiden’s View
(A speaker at the National Education Association advised girls not to study algebra. Many girls, he said, had lost their souls through this study. The idea has been taken up with enthusiasm.)
I will avoid equations,
And shun the naughty surd,
I must beware the perfect square,
Through it young girls have erred:
And when men mention Rule of Three
Pretend I have not heard.
Through Sturm’s delightful theorems
Illicit joys assure,
Though permutations and combinations
My woman’s heart allure,
I’ll never study algebra,
But keep my spirit pure.
With apologies to James Whitcomb Riley.
(“The result of taking second place to girls at school is that the boy feels a sense of inferiority that he is never afterward able entirely to shake off.”- Editorial in London Globe against co-education.)
THERE, little girl, don’t read,
You’re fond of your books, I know,
But Brother might mope
If he had no hope
Of getting ahead of you.
It’s dull for a boy who cannot lead.
There, little girl, don’t read.