Describe the ways in which the methods of the Suffragists and Suffragettes were different
Although by 1905 women had a lot more rights, they were still being denied the right to vote. Women had been campaigning within the NUWSS for many years and were getting frustrated by their peaceful methods. Therefore, they broke away and formed the WSPU which used more militant action to get attention. The names Suffragists (for the peaceful protesters) and Suffragettes (for the more violent) were coined for them.
Suffragists used more organized methods, than the Suffragettes, to get support and their message heard, such as letter writing. The NUWSS brought together 500 local organizations with more than 50,000 members, arranged over 1300 meeting in 1877-78 alone and in 1894 they produced a petition with 250,000 signatures on it. In 1908 the Suffragists followed the Suffragettes idea of planning a huge demonstration of 13, 000 women through Central London, dressed up as powerful women figures such as Boadicca and Queen Elizabeth.
Their slogan was ‘Voiceless London’ which meant that half of London didn’t have the vote. This made people (a lot of them men) sympathetic. Their posters were well planned. One of them shows that convicts, lunatics and drunkards were able to keep their right to vote, whilst women could be mothers and nurses and still not be able to vote. This shows they were trying to prove that they deserved the vote, which is where the main difference was between themselves and the Suffragists. They got angry by the Suffragists who were working against the Liberals who were trying to help them, as shown in the illustration by Bernard Partridge.
The Suffragettes first formed because they could see that working along side the law peacefully wasn’t getting them very far. They believed that they would only be taken seriously if they got attention, so they caused disturbances outside Parliament which led to them being arrested and taken to Holloway Prison, where they were treated like criminals. They could use this to their advantage as propaganda. They could see it annoyed the government because they were showing how women were treated like criminals for trying to get their voices heard.
They did processions such as the major one in 190, with half a million people involved through Hyde Park, in order to raise awareness. They also planned demonstrations outside the Houses of Parliament which could often turn into fights between them and the police, such as the first major one in 1907. They did this demonstration because they were angry that the Liberals had withdrawn their support for the cause meaning the bill didn’t pass because Suffragettes were against more men getting the vote, which was the Liberals main policy.
The Suffragettes would do anything to get their voices heard by politicians and even the King. They would attack and heckle members of Parliament who were against women’s suffrage, tie themselves to the railings outside 10 Downing street, lock themselves in people cars, run into 10 Downing Street, stamp slogans over parliament walls. They even tried to present a petition to King Edward V11 as he passed through London in a carriage at the same time as dropping thousands of leaflets over London by a hot air balloon. Often they would get arrested for these actions but would not promise good behaviour while inside.
By 1908 their actions became more violent. They adopted stone throwing through government building windows. They also threw slate through the glass roof of the building where the new priminister, Herbert Asquith, was speaking. They did this because the former priminister had been in favour of votes for women but Asquith was not interested in it.
Hundreds of women were imprisoned over the years and in 1909 they began a new tactic which was to go on a hunger strike to shorten their stays. This led to force feeding through there mouth or even nose, which caused more propaganda posters. These were very effective and the government stopped and made the temporary discharge bill meaning the women could be re captured if they didn’t comply with the rules. All of this had put the government in a hard position and so the Suffragettes hoped that they would give in soon. It also proved that unless women were connected to important men they were treated badly, like criminals.
Around 1911, the Suffragettes began to get even more aggressive; setting fire to letterboxes, buildings, smashing shop windows and exploding buildings. These tactics were probably not very effective as the government would be seen to giving into terrorism if they gave them the vote. They also lost supporters. People began to ask how they could hand over a lot of control to people who were breaking all the laws of the country.
It is hard to know whether the suffragettes or suffragists actions progressed votes for women the most. The suffragists didn’t care how long it took to get the vote so long as they worked with the law. The Suffragettes were everything the the suffragettes weren’t, irresponsible, aggressive, adventurous, law breaking and impetuous. However I think that they way the Suffragettes used propaganda was the main reason that votes for women happened because without it, people wouldn’t have been interested. However, it would’ve happened if they had not progressed into terrorism or set themselves against the Liberal Party.