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"Why Did A Campaign For Women's Suffrage Develop in the Years After 1890?"

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Introduction

Miranda Fisher-Levine 10N Votes For Women Year 10 Coursework Assignment 2001 - 2002 Miranda Fisher-Levine 10N Question 1 - "Why Did A Campaign For Women's Suffrage Develop in the Years After 1890?" In the 19th century, women suffered many social injustices - often earning half of what men did in the same occupation (in 1851, a male thimble maker would earn 15-21s a week and his female counterpart 7-9s); until 1870 women could keep none of their earnings and it was only after the 1847 Factory Act that a woman's working day was limited to 10 hours. Women lived in abject poverty and were threatened by starvation, hypothermia and overwork. Women wanted the vote for many reasons, but the reason most directly related to the above problems is summed up by the slogan "Taxation without Representation" - women, as full citizens, paid taxes, but had no way of expressing their opinions on how the country was run - their very real economic problems were left unconsidered by the government. This is clearly an unjust situation, but it is worth bearing in mind that until The Great Reform Act of 1832, the only group that could vote were landowners over 21. ...read more.

Middle

was beaten with a rhino whip. The Suffragettes chained themselves to railings outside No. 10 Downing Street as a publicity stunt, and it worked - the press caught wind of them and through this they attracted both public support and opposition. If Suffragettes were arrested, they were usually offered either a spell in prison or a fine, and their refusal to pay fines became a Suffragette trademark. Suffragette prisoners often went on hunger strike, refusing to eat until they were released. Force-feeding was used by hospital doctors, and the Suffragettes used this to their full advantage, publicising the horrors inflicted on them in prison. Suffragettes gained more publicity by "The Cat and Mouse Act" - they were being released from prison on grounds of poor health and were then re-arrested. In 1912, Suffragettes smashed shop windows in London (over 200 were arrested) and arson attempts were made on public buildings. This caused a break up of the WSPU, leaving Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst in charge. Their militancy escalated - firebombs were thrown, golf courses vandalised and rail stations burnt down. The zenith of their violence was at the 1916 Derby when Emily Wilding Davison famously threw herself in front of the King's horse. ...read more.

Conclusion

They were also increasingly unable to justify withholding women's suffrage. Public opinion of women dropped hugely after the end of the war - the slogan "Heroines to Scroungers" sums up the thought that now that men were back home, women were once again a drain on resources, and not useful members of the working population. Three years is a long time in social terms; between 1915 and the 1918 Act, it is probable that women's invaluable help in the war had been mostly forgotten. The majority of women who worked in the war (suffering hugely in heavy industries like coal mining and munitions) were single and under 30, and thus were not themselves rewarded by post-war suffrage. Those respectable, married women who were granted suffrage had not contributed to the war effort. Possibly the opinion of Parliament was swayed by the work of single, lower-class women proved to MPs the worth and capability of the whole sex. Nevertheless, women were still seen as inferior, and the preservation of the household franchise ensured that female voters did not outnumber males - the government was careful to keep women secondary contributors. To conclude, I agree that if a main factor must be chosen, I would choose war work because of its pivotal effect on the opinions of both Parliament and the general public. ...read more.

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