A man, close to the front, pumped his fist. “My wife don’t have time for more learning. We got six kids needing supper on the table.”
A melee of querulous male voices erupted from the crowd.
“Why do women prostitute themselves to the abnormal passion of man?” Miss Fisher continued. “Because they are poverty-stricken, destitute above temptation and driven by necessity. They sell themselves, in marriage or out, for bread and shelter, for the necessities of life. How can we blame them? They have no other recourse but to live in a society that dictates what they, we, can and cannot do. To solve this problem, we demand that women be allowed to exercise their inherent, personal, citizen’s right to be a voice in the government, municipal, state, and national. Then, women will have the power to protect themselves.”
“We men protect our women just fine,” a voice shouted. Other men shouted their agreement.
Mayor Hicks stepped to the podium, his lips pursed. “Enough of your heckling. Save your disagreements for editorials in the newspapers. She has a right to free speech.”
“So do we,” someone boomed back.
The mayor banged a fist on the podium. “These women are invited guests. By God, we will show them our southern Hospitality.”
The raw egg came from nowhere. It narrowly missed the Mayor’s head before landing on the bandstand floor. He squinted, searching the crowd.
Poor Mrs. Fenwick held a shaky hand over her mouth.
Miss Fisher reached below the dais and pulled out a speaking trumpet. “The true relation of the sexes can never be attained until women are free and equal with man,” she continued, her determination thundering above the chaos.
The second egg hit the podium dead center.
Excerpt from The Last Bordello