The Rib Speaks Out' to usher in National Women's History Month on UNI campus

February 23, 2005

Amy Lawin, program coordinator, UNI Women's Studies Program, (319) 273-7183
Vicki Grimes, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-6728

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The Rib Speaks Out, a double-bill presentation including an anti-suffrage satire and a dramatization of Mark Twain's popular short stories, will usher in March, National Women's History Month, at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 3, in the Communication Arts Center, Room 108, at the University of Northern Iowa.

New York actress Michele LaRue will deliver a vintage lecture Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Monologue, and offer Twain's Eve's Diary to complete the program. Sponsored by Phi Alpha Theta history honorary and the UNI Women's Studies Program, The Rib Speaks Out is open to the public free of charge.

Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Monologue was written in 1912 -- eight years before women won the vote -- by Marie Jenney Howe, a pro-suffragist. In the 1890s, before taking up her suffragist work in New York City, Howe was a promising Unitarian minister, and served as assistant to Mary A. Safford in Sioux City and Des Moines, Iowa.

'Woman Suffrage is the reform against nature,' declares the heroine of Someone Must Wash the Dishes. 'Ladies, get what you want. Pound pillows. Make a scene. Make home a hell on earth -- but do it in a womanly way! That is so much more dignified and refined than walking up to a ballot box and dropping in a piece of paper!' According to LaRue, Howe's fictional speaker is a charming, guileless enthusiast who sincerely believes that her efforts as a 'womanly woman' will keep the home intact -- and save the nation from anarchy.

Presented alone, Someone Must Wash the Dishes was labeled 'wicked' in New York City and 'side-splitting' in Victorian Cape May, N.J. Performed exclusively by Michele LaRue, it has played throughout the East and frequently in Illinois, most notably at Chicago's Newberry Library.

Eve's Diary, the second half of The Rib Speaks Out, was compiled from several works by Mark Twain: Eve's Diary, Extract Eve's Diary, Papers of the Adam's Family, and various essays on Eve, in which Eve evolved over decades. According to LaRue, the writer's sardonic wit and gleeful anachronisms contrast with Eve's fierce passion for 'an education,' and with the profound growth and sorrow that she learns accompany it.

For more information about The Rib Speaks Out, contact Amy Lawin, program coordinator, UNI Women's Studies Program, at (319) 273-7183 or