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 National Union of Women’ Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) for many years and were getting frustrated by their peaceful methods. Therefore, they broke away and formed the Women’s Social and Political Union (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 organised methods, than the suffragettes, to get support and their message heard. The NUWSS brought together 500 local organisations 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. They also wrote well thought out letters to Parliament. In 1908 the suffragists became more active as they organised a huge demonstration of women through Central London, some dressed up as powerful women figures such as Boadicca and Queen Elizabeth 1. 13 000 women attended. They did this because they could see how effectively it had worked for the suffragettes to begin with.
Their slogan was ‘Voiceless London’ which meant that half of London didn’t have a say in how their county was run. This slogan made more people disposed to feel sympathetic towards their cause which meant they had more male members than the suffragettes.
There 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, nurses and doctors and still not be able to vote. They were trying to prove that they deserved the vote, which is where the main difference was between themselves and the suffragists. They also differed because they didn’t mind how long it took to get the result, so long as they continued to work alongside the law and they didn’t rely on propaganda in the way that the suffragettes did. They wished to work along side the law and the Liberal Party (who were supportive of them) in order to show that they deserved the vote.
There is an illustration by Bernard Partridge, showing plainly the differences of the suffragettes and suffragists called ‘The Shrieking Sister’. In the picture there is clear evidence of suffragists trying to restrain suffragettes who were trying to work against that Liberals, who were in fact trying to help the movement. It shows how the suffragist deals with the situation calmly and the Suffragette is being violent and unreasonable.
Why did a campaign for women’s suffrage develop in the years after 1970?
By the 1950s women had no legal existence and were not able to vote. All of their property or salary belonged to their father or husband, even their children were not rightfully theirs. Women were classed along side children and slaves as natural dependents on men. The main role of a woman was to marry a suitable husband, produce a large family and to concentrate on domestic life, unless they had to find work. A minority of women were not content with sitting at home all day embroidering and flower arranging, they became known as the Suffragists (peaceful protesters) or Suffragettes (more forceful) and they asked for women’s suffrage and rights. There were a number of reasons why the campaign for women’s suffrage developed in the years after 1970, the main one’s being political, economic and social.
The 1st economic reason that helped to develop women’s suffrage was that before 1870 all her possessions, injury compensation, salary and will was her husbands. However in 1870 and 1882 the Married Women’s Property Acts were passed meaning that while a women was still living with her husband she could keep her earnings and property. Laws that benefited women continued to gather momentum because in 1886 the Married Women (Maintenance in case of desertion) Act was passed meaning that a women would not be left with nothing if her husband left her and he would have to pay her money. These new rights and equalities encouraged them to believe that they would be able to vote in the future.
The second key point that was economic was that women began to get jobs, even though it was being made increasingly harder to get into university. Previous to this they only had careers on the stage or as governess’. However in 1865 Elizabeth Garret Anderson became the first qualified women doctor in England and established a women’s school for medicine. Emily Faithful was a publisher and printer of books. These women were good examples to other women who wanted more from life. More women were getting involved and it gave them an opportunity to show that they were smart and capable and deserved the vote.
I think that the main social reason that developed women’s suffrage was the Education Act in 1870. It meant that it was compulsory for all children between the ages of five and twelve to be educated. It was also a political reason because more people had just become able to vote and so they needed to be taught how to vote wisely. It meant that women were beginning to be treated more like equals and they could show that they were just as clever as men.
In 1900 there was a war going on, and so in the general elections, while husbands were away, there are two examples of women voting for their husbands. Only 7 million out of a population of 42 million were able to vote and all but these two were men. This proved that women had the mental capacity to address people in public and make well argued points.
One person who was completely against women’s suffrage was Queen Victoria, she believed they were poor and feeble, this encouraged men to believe it. However she died before women were given suffrage and her attitude made women more determined.
It was common for women to produce up to seven children during their lifetimes at great personal risk. However she could not own one of them up until the 1886 Guardianship of Infants Act came into place, meaning that a mother became a legal parent of her children if their father died. This showed again that women were getting more rights and so it was more probable that they could have the right to vote.
Men such as the novelist Henry Fielding and the Artist J.W Waterhouse believed that it was morally correct for women to vote. Fielding vilified bad husbands and Waterhouse’s painting of the Lady of Shallot has many symbols regarding the campaign. This shows that women were getting more of a say in how a relationship was dictated, men were supportive, they were being treated more like equals and it encouraged them to believe they would be given the vote.
The main political reason was that women in New Zealand were able to vote in 1893. Women in Britain would want to emulate them especially as New Zealand was part of the British empire. It gave the idea to women to get involved and that it was possible to happen. Another key reason was that around 1870s - 90s women were able to vote in Local councils and school boards, however they were not able to be elected. Women were getting a say in decisions and they were showing they had the capacity to make well informed decisions.
In 1894 there was a petition for votes for women with 250,000 signatures on it. In 1897 the House of Commons voted in favour for votes for women however the bill got no further, in fact by 1914 they had put forward over 50 bills for women rights. Even though the laws were not being passed it gave women more hope and determination because they were being taken seriously by the men who mattered.
I believe that the most important reasons that contributed to women getting the vote were the increasing amounts of laws passed that made women more equal with men, such as being able to own their own property and earn a living. I also believe that giving young girls education was important in equalizing the sexes as men could realize that women were really able to decide how the country was run and they were just as clever and deserved the right to vote.