Monday marks one hundred years to the day since California approved women’s suffrage. On October 10th, 1911, California narrowly gave women the right to vote. In fact, many Bay Area counties, including San Francisco, opposed the measure.
Sacramento State Government Professor Kim Nalder says that’s because the women’s suffrage movement was closely tied to prohibition. “There were a lot of bars and brothels too, so prostitution was one of the issues,” said Nalder. “And there was this conception that women might do away with some of the old boy’s clubs and the power centers that previously existed that were comfortable for some people.”
Instead, women’s suffrage passed with strong support in rural areas. Nalder says the arguments in favor were more about extending the duties of the household to the state – rather than civil rights and equality.
California was the sixth state to give women the right to vote. The U.S. constitution was amended nine years later in 1920.
On that same Election Day 100 years ago, voters also approved a direct democracy measure that created California’s initiative, referendum and recall processes. That measure passed by a much wider margin – about three-to-one.