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The Militant Suffragettes

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The Militant Suffragettes Who were they? There were of course many militant suffragettes but the most famous ones all come from the same family. The Pankhursts were unusual in the fact that the family all had the same views about women's rights (meaning that women should have them). It seems that a lot of the suffragette movements in later years were breakaway groups from the Pankhurst "Women's Social and Political Union". Although they started of as a socialist group as the years went by the two of the Pankhursts (Emmeline and Christabel) became very strong willed and more like dictators then democratic leaders. Many women were becoming very impatient and disillusioned by the lack of impact that there "intellectual" campaigning for women's rights had made. By the year 1905 interest in women rights had died down to a simmer it was no longer the top story and many people (including women) did not want women to have the same rights or opportunities as men. This caused the birth of the militant suffragette movement, these were groups of women who no longer wished to carry on with the 'softly softly' method of achieving there goal and wanted to move things forward as the whole movement they felt had become stale. ...read more.


the WSPU had a demonstration and tried to enter the House of Commons. There was a violent confrontation with the police; this time 24 women were arrested. In 1909 the emergence of the hunger strike came into light. July 1909 Marion Dunlop stopped eating as protest at the long sentences that were being handed out to the suffragettes. The government did not want her to die as a role model or martyr to other militant suffragettes, so they released her. "In 1909 Wallace Dunlop went to prison and defied the long sentences that were being given by adopting the hunger-strike. 'Release or Death' was her motto. From that day, July 5th, 1909, the hunger-strike was the greatest weapon we possessed against the Government..." (Annie Kenney) But eventually other imprisoned suffragettes took on the same strategy; the authorities were not going to releases all of them (the suffragettes). So the government had to adopt a new strategy which took place in two stages. The first stage was to force-feed the prisoners... "On Saturday afternoon the wardress forced me onto the bed and two doctors came in. While I was held down a nasal tube was inserted. It is two yards long, with a funnel at the end; there is a glass junction in the middle to see if the liquid is passing. ...read more.


I believe it was the non-militant suffragettes or feminists that made the most noticeable difference. For example Margaret Bondfield in 1929 became the first woman in history to be entered into the British cabinet (as minister of labour). Before achieving this rare fete she was a secretary and an active member of the "Women's co-operative Guild", which campaigned for a minimum wage and reforms in child welfare (non-militant). She also managed to persuade the government to introduce maternity benefits and to pay the benefits to the mother and not the fathers. The militant suffragettes endured imprisonment, condemnation and near death experiences. But were not taken seriously in the political arena, the very area they were trying to attract. The militant suffragettes were just considered to be a nuisance. "Over 185 suffragettes were arrested, and the violence rose to such a level that the London Times called the demonstrators "demented creatures, and it was evident that their conduct completely alienated the sympathy of the crowd," The militant suffragettes did not achieve much by way of law changing, however they did manage to change public perception of women or modern women. As well as making sure the issue of women's rights stayed in the limelight (although weather it made the situation better or worse I don't know). ...read more.

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