Why did women fail to gain the vote between 1900-191
In the early 19th century very few men had never considered the fact that women were not equal at all. They had limited restrictions to what they could do; women seemed to have the same rights of children, criminals and lunatics. If a woman was to marry, her husband owned her property as well as his own. If they were to have children, by law the husband had more rights over his children than the mother she had no legal rights over them.
If the wife or husband were to want a divorce it would be very difficult to do so as the husband would own all of the women’s processions not only would she lose her processions she would lose her children as well. Middle class women were looked at very differently to working class women. They were thought as to delicate or empty headed to work. The husband would insist that the wife should not have to clean the house as they were too wealthy, they would hire servants. The men believed the women should be the angels of the house.
Although there had been improvements they still had a long way to go before they had the right to vote. The industrial revolution brought about massive changes within this structure of British society, working class women continued to work as they had done, much of the work was poorly paid and based in the home these included washing, sewing and box making. The ‘privileged’ few had jobs in factories or an office. So the jobs that woman was allowed to do improved a little as time went on. But due to the rapid expansion of post offices they were in dire need of assistants.
Working in the post office had its advantages and disadvantages for the women who worked there. For example, the women would sometimes have to work 80 to 90 hours per week and the pay was poor, the advantages were that although they worked long hours they did have free time to do what ever they pleased and it also offered independence to younger girls. Other job area where it showed improvement was in teaching. In 1870, the government passed an education act, which doubled the number of elementary school pupils, and most of the new teachers who met the increasing demand were in fact women.
By 1900 75% of teachers were women. Women had no right to gain promotion nor a pay rise and in any job that women had, men always earned an higher amount if a women married they were expected to resign from there jobs, to stay at home to do more appropriate jobs like the ironing, the laundry and the washing. As for education, the government believed that governesses should tutor girls at home and the boys taught at school. The working class children sometimes would receive basic education. Some of the middle class women had their eyes set on becoming a nurse or teacher.
They wanted to enter the profession of law and medicine. Despite these improvements were not equal mainly because they did not have the vote and they were many attempts to to gain it by 1900-1914. The early campaigners were mostly middle class women; they believed that not all of the women should get the vote. They thought that if men had equal rights to qualify for there property then so should the women. In 1897 an organisation such as the Female Political Union (FPU) and the Manchester Women’s suffrage Committee joined together to form the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. NUWSS).
The women who had joined this society began to point out that the franchise had been extended for men in 1832, 1867 and 1884. They women could point out that they made over half of the population the because of the remaining women most of them had to earn a living instead of having no choice to marry. In 1871 two thirds of women were single if they had there own property or earned money they would have to pay tax just like men. The suffragist campaign emphasised the responsibilities carried by most women.
Very strong arguments came up about the fact that women did not have the right to vote and nor should they ever. A handbill that was published by the NUWSS, this handbill held a very strong argument! “Let the women help, two heads are better than one! ” The men thought that because the women did not go to war or did not fight for their country then they did not have the authority to ask for the vote, they believed that “The voter in giving a vote, pledges him-self to uphold the consequences of his vote at all costs and that women are physically incapable of making this pledge. Queen Victoria also had a very strong opinion of the matter she said, “With the vote women would become the most bate-full, heartless and disgusting of human beings. Where would be the protection which man was intended to give the weaker sex? ” So it wasn’t all the women that thought they should have the right to vote because there were many women out there against it. Another famous person who was against women getting the vote was Florence Nightingale she believed that there were more important issues to worry about.
When John Stuart Mill suggested that there was suffrage he was faced with a range of hard beat arguments against the measure. Women were also said to be too emotional and impulsive to be trusted with the vote. Even though big improvements had been made like employment, education and marriage there was still limits and drawbacks to gaining the vote, as they had not yet succeeded to gain it. Most suffragists by 1900 had most MPs on their side, even the backbench liberal MPs were supporters of women voters, but the liberal leaders were opposed to it.
However this was only better-off, property owning women would get the vote, and they feared that these women would get the vote Conservative. On the other hand Conservatives were get interested in the fact that women could vote because the like the outlook of more conservative voters, BUT because the backbench liberals were opposed they held back so unfortunately the suffragists had another knock back and had got no where.
The leader of the liberal William Gladstone made a very strong-viewed statement against women voters. I do not wish to trespass on the delicacy, the purity and the refinement of women’s nature by giving her the vote” The suffragists were well-organised and gained support from many sections of society, but ultimately their methods was too moderate and not assertive, they didn’t force the issue enough. However they did achieve some success. There campaign was extremely effective in terms of bringing it to people’s attention. The leader of the movement was Millicent Fawcett she believed in the constitutional campaigning. For example she presented the case to the MPs, by presenting petitions, and organised meetings.
Eva Gore-Booth gathered signatures of 67 000 textile workers in Northern England for a petition to parliament. Even though petitions were made, meetings were made and areas of employment, education, and marriage had improved, women still had not gained the right to vote. Some women thought it was time to bring out a more demanding way of gaining the vote, the suffragettes gained lots of publicity unfortunately the suffragettes acted much more differently than the suffragists they were violent and unacceptable and the question was asked did they do more harm than good?
The relationship between the suffragettes and suffragists wasn’t good. If they stood by one another maybe they would have had a much stronger case. The suffragettes interrupted political meetings and harassed the ministers; they would abuse the MPs who opposed against women voters. The suffragists didn’t agree in the way that the suffragettes were acting and they believed that the suffragettes were close to destroying the campaigns. Some of the women from the suffragettes were so dedicated to their campaign they were willing to die for the campaign.
There was one girl named Emily Davison who died in 1913 at Derby, it was unknown whether she indented to dead to shoe total dedication towards the campaign or whether she was trying to pin a suffragette banner to its bridle. Not only did some women die but also women were going to prison. The Pankhursts and Flora Drummond were sent to prison for inciting a crowd to rush the House of Commons. When they were sent to prison they decided to go on a hunger strike of part of their protest, this was a good way to get the sympathy vote due to the fact that the prison wardens came up with the idea to force feed the prisoners.
They would put a tube down their throats and fill it with liquid. This was very degrading but they gained the sympathy vote. However, in 1913 the government out smarted them by enforcing a new act called the cat and mouse. If the prisoner went on a hunger strike they would simply let them out of prison to recover from he hunger strike and when they were well again they would bring them back to finish there sentence. There is little disbelieving that the suffragettes’ increasing violence disturbed support for the women’s cause.
By 1913 many suffragettes were in prison, and the Pankhursts were working on there campaign from Paris. The suffragettes had certainly raised the profile of the issues but they had also damaged their own cause. They had set out to gain the vote but all they did was lose the trust and goodwill of many of the supporters’ Mps and liberals. The people that mattered turned their backs the suffragettes were denied the right to vote yet again in 1914.
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