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Explain The Reasons Why Women’s Movements Failed To Win The Vote Before 1914

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Introduction

Explain The Reasons Why Women's Movements Failed To Win The Vote Before 1914 By 1900, the attitude towards women was still the very traditional view that women were the homemakers and belonged in the running of the household, bearing and bringing up of children and the supporting of their husbands. Women were regarded as morally superior to their male counterparts and had to be protected from the rough world of politics. Domestic service continued to be the most common occupation for working-class women and so women were still working as servants, which supported the view that their best qualities lay with household management, and not in the running of the country. Even though suffrage eventually became headline news, no party was willing to adopt women's suffrage before 1918. The suffrage bills in Parliament were put forward by sympathetic MPs as private members' bills, which meant they had little chance of success because they did not have majority party backing. One of the main problems with women not being enfranchised before 1914 was that the Liberal government was not willing to give them the vote. The Liberals had won a landslide victory in the General election of 1906 and needed to keep this majority in order to stay in government. The Liberals began to introduce new welfare reforms such as the School Meals Act and Old Age Pension's Act to tackle the problem of poverty and generally improve the lives of the British public. These reforms took time and money to establish. ...read more.

Middle

The NUWSS leaders, although working towards the same goal as the WSPU, grew irritated by the increasingly destructive tactics of the Suffragettes and felt it was harming the cause. They also did not reveal that they were working towards the 2nd Conciliation Bill because they feared the WSPU would react unfavourably as the bill gave more votes to men. The WSPU were furious and they became more violent and began smashing windows. The two organisations could not work together because of the WSPU's extremist actions. The WSPU's anti-men attitude also lost them male support. In 1907, there were divisions within the WSPU because of conflict so other members whom had left the WSPU set up the WFL. In 1914, Emmeline and her daughter, Christabel strongly disapproved of her daughter's involvement with working class women so Sylvia was expelled from the WSPU. This example shows that not even the WSPU, who was fighting for the vote, wanted to be associated with the working class, who in the end would be the ones to earn the middle classes the vote. The organisation itself was not united as the WSPU turned its main focus on getting the vote for women with property, rather than universal suffrage. This caused unrest and subsequently splits within the WSPU. The Suffragettes' extremist tactics of arson, chaining themselves to buildings, slashing paintings and window smashing was self-defeating as they lost the sympathy and support of the country as a whole. They also provided the government with an excuse not to enfranchise them and were treated as lunatics, not political prisoners when they were jailed. ...read more.

Conclusion

It was not only the psychological differences between men and women that were seen as a problem but also that women were already involved indirectly with politics, as men represented them in government. The Liberals did not only adopt most of these arguments but did not want women to have the vote and this is proved by the fact that no bills before 1914 with an amendment for women's suffrage were passed. Indeed, there was support for the enfranchisement of women within political parties but it was not until 1908 that the Suffragettes intensified the political pressure and promoted new and confrontational methods to force MPs to give women the vote. This shows that in context, politicians were only faced openly with the campaign of the vote for six years. Compared to the view of women up till this point, the idea of a woman in government was ridiculed. There were many factors contributing to why women did not get the vote, but probably the one that had the most impact was the attitude people had generally. Women were seen as weak, incapable and not intellectual compared to their male counterparts. The Victorian typical view of women had stuck with the female sex through into the early 1900's, and it was not until the First World War when women could show they were capable of men's jobs, and kept the country going whilst men went off to defend against the enemy. Women proved to be able to do the same jobs as men, and work just as hard. They were no longer seen as weak and finally showed the government they were not mad women but women who put their country before their own desire for the vote. ...read more.

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