How effective were the suffragists and suffragettes?
I believe the suffragists and suffragettes were only effective to an extent when split into individual groups, however when grouped together their different techniques were far more effective as they show both responsibility and determination which was necessary to get the votes. In addition, the fact that both groups have different supporters varying from lowers class citizens who supported the suffragettes to higher class citizens which mainly supported the suffragists. This range of people meant that their cause was having a greater effect because the rich and powerful people for example, David Lloyd George, who in 1916 was prime minister of the United Kingdom was in support for women votes and contributed more for the votes than not so powerful people.
The suffragists were considered responsible people when in protest to women’s rights; they caused a glimmer of hope as they set forth a bill to let women have votes. Although this bill was passed and rejected 15 times and yet Herbert Asquith; prime minister at the time promised women rights. This failure of the suffragists was also evident by the fact that women were even further away from getting rights as shown by how 4 million men were getting the votes. This just proved how unfair the system was.
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On the other hand, it could be argued that at the time, they were more effective by having a less direct approach to gain women’s rights. They peacefully protested in the streets for the notion that they were to get the rights. However, the way suffragists campaigned meant the government found it easier and easier to ignore them and just stick with their previous assumption that women are second class citizens and are not capable of self-governing themselves.
In comparison, the suffragettes used this against them and had a more direct impact, and they tried to show that just by simply protesting would not do the trick. So they set out to cause damage to properties that the government would value most. In doing this, they hoped that by damaging property, the government would be forced to react.
The suffragettes aim was that the government would allow them rights by showing how determined they were to fight for their cause. But the government’s reaction was not what they hoped for. The government put them in prison in an attempt to stop their cause but this generally just led the suffragettes to starve themselves. In retaliation, the government force-fed them in order to stop them from dying. After this they released the cat and mouse act which stated that if any suffragette were to become starving in prison they would release them when they were extremely ill and then claim that it they died it was for fault of their own. This was in order to stop them from becoming a martyr (sacrificing yourself for a cause) this would ultimately cause a major change in what rights were handed to the women. An example of this is Joan of Arc who faced male opposition in her trek for liberating her land from English domination. Consequently, she was burned at the steak and later revealed to have been innocent and declared a martyr. As a result of this she was the last one to be burnt on the steak. In the liberal governments situation it would mean that they would have to give women their rights.
The suffragettes were also successful in gaining publicity by causing commotion and by doing things such as chaining themselves to Buckingham palace. This was because this would cause a lot of publicity and the fact that the Queen was not on the side for women’s rights meant this was an idealistic place to pull a stunt. However, it seems like some of their actions damaged their cause, one piece of evidence of this is shown by how people reacted to their actions. Many of them thought that it was irresponsible to go around causing chaos.
On the other hand, there is some evidence suggesting that their cause had a good effect. This is shown by how some people thought it was courageous to fight for their cause.
In conclusion, I believe the suffragists and suffragettes were only effective to a small extent. However, I believe that the suffragettes were more effective than the suffragists were. My main reason for saying this is due to the time in history that the suffragists and suffragettes were at. What I mean by this is that the suffragists were being ignored due to their approach which caused little pressure towards the government, and therefore the politicians were being enabled to ignore them and so felt no need to give them their votes. In my opinion, the liberal government also chose not to give the votes because I think they believed it would affect their votes in the general elections because it would damage their reputation because of the assumptions towards women at the time. However, they did propose a Conciliation Bill that was introduced one per year in 1910, 1911 and 1912 that proposed to lend 1 million wealthy and powerful homeowners the right to vote. Yet this was rejected by the liberal government due to fear that most of the rich and healthy women would vote conservative.
Suffragettes were causing a mixed, but mainly a negative view for themselves by generally publicizing their chaos. This shows that neither campaign group were causing a very prodigious indentation on how they should get their rights deserved however, the fact that people thought that starving themselves was nearly similar to the Emily Davison incident wherein she jumped in front of a horse to make the ultimate sacrifice in aid to the campaign. In my opinion, this was the case, as I think she knew that it was the perfect moment to make a sacrifice when both suffragists and suffragettes were being rendered useless by their actions. In my opinion, her sacrifice was made from motivation from another martyr, possibly Joan of Arc. I think she knew that people would think that as she has died for her cause and therefore make her a martyr. Therefore, she knew that if the government had to reveal that people were taking their own lives for the rights then they would have to give it to them.