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Changing attitudes to women and their right to vote

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Introduction

Year 11 - History Coursework Changing attitudes to women and their right to vote 1. Explain why women failed to gain the right to vote between 1900 and 1914 In the years leading up to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, women's suffrage was never far from the headlines due to the constant bombardment of publicity stunts pulled by Emmeline Pankhurst and her Suffragettes. Using all within their power to gain attention, the Suffragettes believed in using direct persuasion, and if necessary, violent protest to remain in the public eye, pulling stunts from chaining themselves to the railings of the houses of specific members of Parliament to smashing the shop windows on Oxford Street. At the other end of the spectrum were the Suffragists, who based their campaign entirely on their powers of persuasion, believing in only peaceful protest such as writing petitions and sending letters to Parliament. Although this initially gained respect from authoritative men of the time due to the patience, stability and intelligence emphasised in these actions, these incipient forms of peaceful protest did not encourage many people to support their cause. These forms of objection and peaceful protest were effective to an extent but people failed to keep an interest, as the form of protest used by the Suffragists got them nowhere very quickly, causing people to become impatient. ...read more.

Middle

Although the Suffragettes had convincing and logical points for the reasons as to why women greatly deserved the right to vote, they still had to prove themselves in the eyes of men, and the war provided this very opportunity. Source 'A' is that of an extract taken from one of Emmeline Pankhurst's many speeches in 1908, a time when there was an increasing number of raids on Parliament and of heckling with MP's. The source is of an abundantly influential tone as it is taken from a speech, which would have been widely received. The speech seems to be aimed at men and the government, the source stresses on what the government needs to do in order to create a more democratic society, including the importance of the vote for women, providing them with a say in how the country is run, intending to be convincing and that a woman gaining the vote was infallible. Although the source is obviously meant to influence, it does it subtly, and its intent is obvious to change people's attitudes into realising that women were independent, intelligent and very worthy of the vote. The height of interest of the Suffragettes campaign is emphasised in the notation of "You cannot read a newspaper or go to a conference without hearing demands of social reform", making a dig at the government by saying that they are wrong to think women are unworthy of the vote and are the only people who think so. ...read more.

Conclusion

Due to the most likely possibility of propaganda, it could also have been created as a booster of morale and therefore an illusory image of how men and women should be rather than how they really were. Source 'E' is a secondary source, written in hindsight and talks of the resentment that could have been felt by men who were open to being conscripted due to the fact that the women were there to take over their job if needed and that "attitudes to women workers remained negative". It is talked of how women were disliked for their success and ability to flourish through work and that some were even restrained as an act of undermining them, "many women were restricted to less skilled work and were victims of hostility". This proves that women were on their way to becoming equal but were intensely disliked for it as although it meant that men were more susceptible to being conscripted, it meant that women were becoming equal to men, doing their jobs well, if not better than they had been done by men. In conclusion to whether women would have gained the vote without their valuable contribution to the First World War, it is doubtful that they would have been granted the right to vote as the war provided them with the opportunity to prove themselves in the eyes of men, which they most definitely did. ...read more.

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