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Women's Suffrage

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Rebecca Foster

on 15 September 2011

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Transcript of Women's Suffrage

Women's Suffrage The Reactions of the Public, the Press and the Authorities. Why did Women want the Vote? There were many reasons why women wanted the vote such as:

-No taxation without representation
-To have better rights to their children
-To have rights inside marriage
-To have equality with men Two different groups of women campaigned for the vote... The first group were Suffragists. Suffragists campaigned using peacful tactics such as:

- Lobbying parliament
- Having meetings with MPs
-Writing letters to MPs
- Petition’s
- Marches and rallies
- Producing leaflets, newspapers and pamphlets

Suffragist groups such as the NUWSS (National
Union of Women's Suffrage Society ) led by Millicent
Fawcett, took part in many of these actions in an
attempt to gain women the vote. Here is an
of a Suffragist
rally led by
the NUWSS Generally the reactions to the Suffragists Campaigns were positive,
however some were still against women's suffrage. In an opinion column by 'Diana' in the 'Shetland News', published on the 20th of July 1912; the writer felt that the Suffragist movement was not great enough to draw attention to the campaigns for women's suffrage and drastic actions had to be made:
"the methods adopted by the local suffragists are not calculated to arouse enthusiasm or make converts," and that the Suffragists had to use more propaganda and host more public meetings addressing the issues:
"few women are capable of addressing public meetings and I think the best method to follow is to educate women on the questions by means of literature." The Press... Most of the public supported the Suffragist's campaign for the vote, this included many men, not just women. This poster is from the 14th of February 1914.
Representatives from 79 male pro-suffrage organisations from all over Scotland travelled to London to meet with the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith.
He did not support women's suffrage, and refused to meet the deputations at this time.
Prime Minister Asquith did not want women included in the franchise and therefore no actions of the Suffragists could impress him.

However Asquith was not the only polititian objecting to giving women the vote.

In 1912 Charles Hobhouse, a liberal, gave a speech saying...

"The inclusion of women in politics would harm the number, character and strength of our future race. It would limit women's ability and inclination for motherhood, and would lead to their unwillingness to manage the home, and the home is the first and lasting strength of social life in all countries." However, actions of the Suffragists were often overlooked due to the second campaigning group of women... The Suffragettes. Suffragettes campaigned using militant tactics such as:

-Smashing windows
-Putting acid in letter boxes
-Storming parliament
-Attacking MPs,including the Prime Minister
-Chaining themselves to railings Here is an example of Suffragette activities Using their main slogan "Deeds Not Words" The actions of the Suffragettes caught the attention of the public, press and the authorities more than any previous Suffragist movements. The Suffragettes main organisation was called the WSPU. (Women's Social and Political Union) The WSPU The leader of this organisation was
Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst. People's attitude towards Suffragettes differed greatly. Some people thought Suffragettes finally brought the issues of Women's Suffrage to the government's attention.

For others the Suffragettes militant tactics only confirmed that women were too emotional and irrational to gain the vote. Suffragists were disgusted with the Suffragette antics. Many Suffragists felt that the Suffragettes had ruined years of work toward women's suffrage. They felt the Suffragettes had only delayed women getting the vote rather than helping them towards it. The Press The Public The newspapers and journalists all had opposing opinions. Many newspapers used propaganda against Suffragettes painting them as wild and unmotherly. This piece of propaganda shows a Suffragettes house as dirty and women too busy with politics to clean their house or look after their families. Politicans were unsure of how to deal with educated middle class women rioting in the street. The government could not be seen to respond to terrorism threats. This would only encourage other outbreaks of terrorism with other groups such as the Irish nationalists. So Suffragettes were put on trial and put in prison. The Imprisonment of Women Suffragettes demanded to be treated as political prisoners, meaning they would have better treatment, however the actions against these women were some of the most shocking and influentual tactics towards gaining women the vote. Many women went on hunger strike during their imprisonment. The government could not have hundreds of women dying in prison as martyrs, so, women starving themselves in prison were force fed. With these awful tales of force feeding filling every newspaper in Britain most of the public and press grew sympathic towards the Suffragettes campaign. The government had to do something... ...The goverment brought in the Temperary Discharge of ill health Act (1913)

Nick-named 'The Cat and Mouse Act' this let starving Suffragettes go home when close to death. They would not be martyers if they starved themselves at home. Once the women had regained their health, they would be put back into prison. Therefore, the reactions of the Public, the Press and the Authorities changed a lot over the campaign for women gaining the vote.

It went from quiet respect for the Suffragists, to complete outrage from the Suffragettes shockingly violent actions.

After the outbreak of war in 1914, women had to end their campaigns and help the war effort. During the war women proved they were equal to men and the government had to include women in the franchise expansion. By 1928 women had the vote on equal terms to men.
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