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The suffragettes believed that the way to achieve female suffrage was by direct action. They were frustrated by the lack of progress made by the campaign. They believed that through direct action, they would cause female suffrages to become a major issue and raise so much publicity that the government would have to give women the right to vote. In 1908, they began to chain themselves to railings and smash windows in Downing Street. In 1910 they called off violent protests, but when, in 1912, the Conciliation Bill failed, they began a campaign of arson and vandalism. They also attacked MPs and went on hunger strikes when they were arrested to which the government reacted with force feeding and the Cat & Mouse Act, they would arrest the women, let them out when they fell ill due to not eating and arrest them again when they got better.
They also felt that the militancy would put off the moderate MPs who would otherwise have supported their cause. And this is what happened; many MPs changed their minds when they saw the extremes the women went to. The general reaction was mixed. Some people were horrified at the women's violence; they felt it couldn't be justified. Some thought it made the likelihood of women getting the vote, less not more likely. Other people felt that they exploited the death of Emily Davidson for public purposes. Many women and some men admired their willingness to suffer for their cause; this proved that the women were serious about wanting the vote. However, some people felt it only further proved that women shouldn't have the vote.
A quote form one of the women present says: "One policeman put his arm around me and seized my left breast, nipping it and wringing it very painfully, saying as he did so, "You have been wanting this for a long time haven't you?" Women certainly didn't get the vote in 1914; they had to wait until 1918 for those over 30 and until 1921 for those over 21 to get the vote. In terms of raising awareness, the violent methods of the Suffragettes were highly successful, the violence meant that the cause was in the news and the issue of female suffrage was not forgotten. However, in terms of changing the minds and attitudes of the country, they weren't very successful, they only managed to back up the thought that women couldn't handle having the vote.
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