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The Suffragette Movement

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1 The Suffragette Movement


3 Background At the start of the Twentieth Century, women had a very stereotypical role in British society. If married, they stayed at home to look after the children while their husband worked and brought in a weekly wage. If single, they did work which usually involved some form of service such as working as a waitress, cooking etc. Many young women were simply expected to get married and have children. By 1900 most working men could vote if the had a permanent address women could not.

4 What were the arguments supporting women's suffrage?
Women pay taxes just like men and so should have a say in how those taxes are spent. Many uneducated working men can vote while well-educated, 'respectable' women can't. Women are capable of being involved in politics. Other countries, like the USA, allow women to vote.

5 What were the arguments against women's suffrage?
Women and men have 'separate spheres'. Women inhabit the private world of the home and men the public world of work and politics. A lot of women don't want the vote and have no interest in public affairs. Women's views are already represented by their husband's vote. Women don't fight for their country and so have not earned the right to vote. It might be dangerous to change the system. Women are too emotional to be trusted with the vote.


7 The Campaign for the Vote
The NUWSS (the Suffragists) The move for women to have the vote  really started in 1897 when Millicent Fawcett founded the National Union of Women's Suffrage. "Suffrage" means the right to vote and that is what women wanted - hence its inclusion in Fawcett's title.

8 Methods Millicent Fawcett believed in peaceful protest. She felt that any violence or trouble would persuade men that women could not be trusted to have the right to vote. Her game plan was patience and logical arguments. Fawcett argued that women could hold responsible posts in society such as sitting on school boards - but could not be trusted to vote; She argued that if parliament made laws and if women had to obey those laws, then women should be part of the process of making those laws; She argued that as women had to pay taxes as men, they should have the same rights as men


10 The WSPU (the Suffragettes)
By 1905 the media had lost interest in the struggle for women's rights. Newspapers rarely reported meetings and usually refused to publish articles and letters written by supporters of women's suffrage. In 1905 the WSPU decided to use different methods to obtain the publicity they thought would be needed in order to obtain the vote.

11 What actions did they take?
From 1910 to 1914 many of its members were taking part in window smashing raids and some committed arson. The militant action of the Women’s Social and Political Union fell into three distinct phases: 1) 1905 to 1908: disruption of political meetings. Any publicity was seen as good publicity. 2) 1908 to 1913: limited threats to public order. This included window breaking, chaining to railings, attacks on politicians etc. The idea was to get arrested, go on hunger strike and embarrass the government. 3) 1913 to 1914: attacks on the property of people opposed to female suffrage. This included churches and Westminster Abbey. The success of the "Cat and Mouse Act" led to this.


13 Source A A woman should make a man’s home delightful. Their sex should ever teach them to be subordinate. Women are like children; the more they show they need looking after, the more attractive they are. Mrs John Sandford, Woman in her Social and Domestic Character (1837).   Notice that Elizabeth Poole Sandford, as she was, writes under her married name of Mrs John Sandford.

14 Source B The importance of the vote
It is important that women should have the vote so that, in the government of the country, the woman’s point of view can be put forward. Very little has been done for women by legislation for many years. You cannot read a newspaper or go to a conference without hearing details for social reform. You hear about legislation to decide what kind of homes people are to live in. That surely is a question for women. No woman who joins this campaign need give up a single duty she has in the home. It is just the opposite, for a woman will learn to give a larger meaning to her traditional duties. From a speech made by Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst in March 1908

15 An argument in favour of votes for women
Source b An argument in favour of votes for women                                                                                                                                  

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