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Votes For Women - Source related study.

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Introduction

Votes For Women - Coursework Assignment Two Source A depicts pictorially a list of positive roles a woman could have at the time and a list of negative things a man could have been. It shows that while a woman could be a respected member of society she was still not allowed to vote, whereas a man could be a criminal or unfit in the eyes of society yet still have the vote. The poster is a peaceful means of protest, yet quite crude in the way it is presented, for example it contains bold drawings of a "drunkard" and "proprietor of white slaves". Other pictures, such as those of a "lunatic" and one "unfit for service" were compared directly above to possible female positions of a "nurse" and "doctor or teacher" respectively. These are the closest opposites in roles that existed at the time so are effective in comparison. The main implication of the picture is that a man could vote whatever his stature, be it worthless or not, but a woman could not either way. The poster is a useful source as it shows the law of the time, 1912, that all men could vote no matter what they had been but women could not. This was unjust from the women's point of view and added to their frustration at not being allowed the vote. The designers of the poster used it to illustrate the double standards employed by the Government. Source C is a cartoon by Bernard Partridge drawn in 1906 of two female suffrage campaigners. One is a Suffragist, meaning a member of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (who campaigned using peaceful methods) and the other is a Suffragette, a member of the Women's Social and Political Union, which was a more militant organisation that used violence in their protest. The caption reads, "The Shrieking Sister," and the implication of the picture is that the Suffragettes only made the campaign situation worse for both groups by being uncivilised. ...read more.

Middle

Again, over 200 women were arrested and police raided the WSPU headquarters in Bow. Christabel Pankhurst avoided arrest and fled to France. Later that year, Asquith was attacked by Suffragettes and Mary Leigh almost burned down the Theatre Royal Dublin. Public opinion was not behind the Suffragettes anymore, as a result of their often shocking violent tactics. In 1911 the Anti Suffrage League was established. It quickly gained members and was able to give a petition to Parliament with over 250 000 signatures against votes for women. In June 1912, Asquith introduced the Franchise and Registration Bill. He planned to make four amendments to get women the vote, but the Speaker of the House of Commons claimed that they would change the Bill so much it would have to be withdrawn. The bill was abolished just six months later. Asquith tried a Private Members Bill to get votes for women but this also failed. Source E is part of a speech by an MP in 1913 stating that he would vote against women's suffrage, because he believed that in giving women the vote the Government would also give women the "control of the government of this country." This was the feeling of many MP's who did not want to see these violent women in charge of the country, but chose to ignore the intelligent, respectable women and their same cause. Following the failures of the Conciliation Bill and the Franchise and Registration Bill, increased Suffragette violence hardened public support and sympathy for the campaigners and led to Sylvia Pankhurst's departure from the group. Pankhurst had been the respectable face of the movement, proving they were not all working class violent protestors. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and her husband also left, taking their crucial money with them. They believed the WSPU was becoming too violent and moved to East London to help the poor. Emmeline Pankhurst was by now acting like a dictator, giving all the power to Annie Kenney who was not one to make good decisions or lead well. ...read more.

Conclusion

But the source shows that opinions had changed, as does Source I, "a tremendous mood favourable to change had been created." The war had enabled women to go to work and prove they were just as capable of serving their country as men. They also achieved more freedom, being allowed shorter skirts and more interesting hairstyles. Source H notes a further point, in that women had brought up their sons well to fight, which was another service to the government in the time of war. This idea, whilst being supportive to the women, was still old fashioned and not what women were aiming for overall, this being independence and respect as people, not child bearers. At the end of the war, whilst having earned more respect from politicians and other men, all women did not have the vote. The Representation of the People Act was passed to give the vote to all men over the age of 21, as many had lost it since joining the forces. The act was a chance to give women the vote at the same time, but only women over the age of 30 could vote. 364 MP's voted for women's suffrage and only 23 against because they had to recognise what the women had done for the war and that many of the previous arguments against women's suffrage were not valid anymore. 6 million out of 13 million women were allowed the vote in 1918, which was a good start for the suffrage campaigners. After this was a success and many realised votes for women was not as bad as they had presumed, the Representation of the People Act of 1928 gave the vote to all women over the age of 21, on the same terms as men. It had taken the efforts of women before the war to alert the government of their wishes, and those during the war to persuade politicians and the public that they deserved the vote. ...read more.

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