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Very Few Civil or Political Rights • Until 1884, A woman was officially part of her husbands property • In addition, Victorian women were expected to live up to an image of ‘the perfect being’ – beautiful, demure, loving and intelligent. Many women actively agreed with this attitude (Source A).
Source A • 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
In 1897, the various women’s societies joined together into the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). • These ‘Suffragists’ as they were called, campaigned peacefully for the vote. Although the number of pro-suffrage MPs in the House of Commons grew, the Suffragists got nowhere.
In 1870s Sophia Jex-Blake completed a medical degree at Edinburgh University, but was refused her degree ! Her case caused some Universities to change their attitude to women – Oxford and Cambridge opened Women’s colleges, there were also some teacher training colleges opened … Teaching – female teachers had to be single Nursing – but had to resign when they married Clerical work - answering telephones and typing … New employment opportunities were opening up for middle-class women, who may have at least had some education at home, or been lucky enough to have had some schooling … discrimination was still possible
when they married all their property went to their husbands; even they became their husband’s property ! Wives were often treated with violence and assaulted by husbands Women could not start divorce proceedings By 1900 women could bring divorce cases against their husbands for cruelty, desertion and bigamy They could keep their own property after marriage Women could leave the marital home voluntarily if in danger In marriages, women were in a very inferior position to their husbands …
But, some things did not change… • Wife-battering and marital sexual assaults were still legal • Husbands could divorce wives for adultery, but wives would have to prove violence or cruelty in similar cases • If a divorce occurred, a mother would lose her rights over her children
In 1903, therefore, Emmeline Pankhurst formed the Women’s Social and Political Union • WSPU Emily Sylvia Christabel
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
Arguments supporting votes for women … • The vote is the way to get rid of other inequalities • The vote will improve men’s moral and sexual behaviour • Women are capable of being involved in politics • There have been many changes in women’s roles • Look at what is happening in other countries • Voting is a ‘right’ to which women are entitled • Britain is not a true democracy until women have the vote
Arguments opposing votes for women … • Women and men have ‘separate spheres’ • Most women do not want the vote • ‘A woman’s role is in local affairs’ • Women are already represented by their husbands • It is dangerous to change a system that works • Women do not fight to defend their country
Tactics of the Suffragettes • Use Violent or Militant Tactics
Asking Awkward questions or shouting out. When Winston Churchill addressed a meeting in Manchester in 1905, he was interrupted by Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney Heckling Politicians
Hurst Park Race Course 1913 Arson Attacks
Property attacks • Slashing paintings • the famous Rokeby Venus • Mary Richardson • Her most notorious act was in 1914, when she slashed Velasquez's masterpiece the 'Rokeby' Venus seven times with an axe as it hung in the National Gallery.
chaining themselves to the railways of Buckingham Palace and Downing Street.
The suffragettes sometimes assaulted politicians who opposed 'votes for women' Assaulting Politicians