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What Was the Government’s Reaction To Women’s Suffrage?

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Introduction

WHAT WAS THE GOVERNMENT'S REACTION TO WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE? The Cat and Mouse Act 1913 One of the tactics employed by the Suffragettes was to starve themselves when they were imprisoned. This created great problems for the Government, and they tried to solve this by introducing the Cat and Mouse act in 1913. This new act meant that the prisoners on hunger strikes could be released, only to be re-arrested a few days later when they had eaten. It was called the Cat and Mouse act because it was likened to a cat playing with a mouse, letting it get away then catching it again. The suffragette's felt that this was an unjust law, and that it was unfair as they were the only prisoners treated this way. Force Feeding Because the Suffragettes would not eat, the prison doctors often used force-feeding. This was where the woman was held down by force. A tube was put up the nose and liquid food was poured into the stomach. This was a horrendous experience for the women, and many doctors condemned it at the time. ...read more.

Middle

However, source C then goes on to say that the recurrence of "the old militancy" was "a much stronger factor" in women receiving the vote. In the opinion of the Ex-Prime minister, who speaks in source D, the work of women in WWI was the most important factor in getting the vote, yet Sylvia Pankhurst, a suffragettes (writing in source C) disagrees, putting their actions in the war below the threat of more protests as the most important reason for women's suffrage, 2) Sources C and D give different views about the importance of the work in WWI because of their writers. Source C is written by the ex-Prime Minister Asquith, who had, before the war, been against giving women the vote. It would be hard for him to viably change is opinion so suddenly, and the hard work of the British women gave him a reason to change those views without embarrassment. Source C was written by Sylvia Pankhurst, and it gives the previous actions of women as a greater reason than that of their work in the war. ...read more.

Conclusion

Once again, the text supports this idea by saying "Women were able to use the war to prove that they could play a full part in the life of the country." This would indicate that war work was widely considered the only reason for women gaining the vote. Still, women under 30 could not vote. Source F says these women "had been so prominent [important] in the munitions factories". This would give me the impression that the government were still not entirely happy with giving the vote to women, and their work in the war had, in a way, forced them into passing the Representation of the People act in 1918. Most of these things support the statement that 'Ever since 1918 people have said that it was women's war work that gave them the vote' to a large extent. It would seem that the government were either persuaded or forced to give women the vote, and that this was more from their work in the war than from their previous protests, which had, in fact, made their vote even less likely than before. Matthew Dix ...read more.

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