April 24, 1909
After their largely polemical “discussion” in March, the campus suffragists were formally prohibited from holding further meetings. But they devised an event that, as The New York Times put it, while it “absolutely contravened the spirit of President Taylor’s prohibition, obeyed it to the letter.” Word had gone out during the day urging students to come to a certain room in Main Building that evening, and as it was the room of a suffragist leader, nearly three-quarters of the student body came.
There, they were invited to visit the “tableaux to answer the objections to suffrage,” which some 100 students set up in dozens of students’ rooms. Going from room to room and floor to floor, the viewers discovered no meetings, no speeches, but “wordless pictures,” students in tableaux vivants. A “barker” in each room described the scenes: “Those Who Do Not Want the Vote—Forty Years Behind The Times” showed old maids with pussycats; “Those Who Do Want the Vote” presented faculty girls; “The Polls as They Are Supposed to Be” presented sluggish pols in a dive; “Polls as We Found Them in Denver” revealed alert poll watchers, reading Paul Kellogg’s progressivist Pittsburg Survey. “Another tableau showed a most realistic field hospital tent scene, where very gory soldiers were being cared for by lovely women as Red Cross nurses. ‘Peace’ was standing in a little cubbyhole, which on ordinary occasions serves as a clothes closet.”
A week later, "Exaggeration," a response to the event in The Vassar Miscellany, admitted that all were "entertained and some of us set to thinking seriously" by the tableaux, but questioned their efficacy in bringing about the inevitable "toleration" of women in the public sphere. "To show that her heart is in the measure she is backing," the writer asked, "does woman have to be disorderly and hot-headed? Is is thus that she hopes to prove to stubborn husbands and brothers her mental superiority, and her fitness to handle the reins of government? Remember the toast of an English gentleman just after a disagreeable episode in his household: 'Here's to Woman, once our superior, now our eaqual.' Don't delay the end in view by actions dissapointing and doubt-arousing." The New York Times, The Vassar Miscellany