4GK005 Campaigning and Citizenship

Quotations on Women's Suffrage in Britain

'This claim to confiscate the whole existence of one half of the species for the supposed convenience of the other appears to me, independently of its injustice, particularly silly'.
J.S. Mill, addressing Parliament in 1867.

'To women as mothers is given the charge of the home and the care of children. Women are therefore, by nature as well as by training and occupation, more accustomed than men to concentrate their minds on the home and the domestic side of things. But this difference between men and women, instead of being a reason against their disenfranchisement , seems to me to be the strongest possible reason in favour of it; we want to see the home and the domestic side of things to count for more in politics and in the administration of public affairs than they do at present'.
Millicent Fawcett Home and Politics, n/d.
The whole text can be found in Lewis, J. (ed) (1987) Before the Vote was Won: Arguments For and Against Women's Suffrage, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 418-424.
Also at http://oassis.gcal.ac.uk/teaching/historyweb/cdromteaching/WOMEN/hannam/text/han11.htm

'It was so staid, so willing to wait, so incorrigibly leisurely'.
Sylvia Pankhurst on the NUWSS in The Suffragette Movement, 1931.

'Patience and trust were abandoned, and indignation and bitterness took their place: the old ways led nowhere, the old friends did nothing, and it was time for a fresh enterprise'.
Ray Strachey on the militant campaign of the WSPU in The Cause, 1928.

'As to the Suffrage Movement, it was a gathering of people of all sorts, united by one simple idea, which necessitated the surrender of no prejudice or race or class'.
Sylvia Pankhurst in The Suffragette Movement, 1931.

'There is no class in the community who has such good reason for objecting and does so strongly object to shrieking and throwing yourself on the floor and struggling and kicking as the average working women, whose human dignity is very real to her'.
Eva Gore-Booth of the Lancashire Women Textile Workers Representation Committee in letter to Millicent Fawcett about the militant campaign of the WSPU, 1905.

'Yet the memory of the old militancy, and the certainty of its recurrence if the claims of women were set aside, was a much stronger factor in overcoming the reluctance of those who would again have postponed the settlement'.
Sylvia Pankhurst on the 1918 Suffrage Act.

'The subjection of women, if there be such a thing, will not now depend on any creation of the law, not can it be remedied by any action of the law. It will never again be possible to blame the soveriegn state for any position of inequality. Women will have, with us, the fullest rights. The ground and justification for the old agitation is gone, and gone for ever'.
Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister, March 1928.

'Beauty has claims for which she fights
At ease with winning arms
The women who want women's rights
Want mostly, women's charms'.
Punch, 1870

'The mass appeal of the suffrage campaign which had spread the conviction of women's rights and women's wrongs to all sections of society, would not survive the victory, and was not to destined to reappear until the new movement of the 1960s'.
Olive Banks (1981) Faces of Feminism, p. 149.

'Militant tactics...were intended to expose men as the enemy and to make it clear what men were capable of doing to those who they climed to protect'.
Dale Spender (1982) Women of Ideas, p. 587.

'One of ther major drives behind feminism was the need felt by middle class women to reassert their superiority of status over socially or racially 'inferior' men to whom political and social change was bringing rights and thus status, which they were still denied'.
R.J.Evans (1977) The Feminists 1840-1920

'The first women's liberation movement failed because the impulse towards female autonomy from male control over women's lives was submerged by the impulse towards equality with men in their world'.
E. Sarah in S. Friedman & E. Sarah (1982) On the Problem of Men

'The industrial evils which had formed the basis of much of our appeal were gradually pushed aside for the consideration of technical, legal, and political grievances - the working class women were dropped without hesitation'.
Tereas Billington writing about the WSPU in The Militant Suffrage Movement, 1911.

'Feminism is the whole issue, political enfranchisement a branch issue, and the methods, militant or otherwise, are merely accidentals'.
Editorial in The Freewoman, 1911.

'Women, your country needs you. As long as there was any hope for peace, most members of the National Union probably sought for peace, and endeavoured to support those who were trying to maintain it. But we have another duty now..Let us show ourselves worthy of citizenship, whether our claim to it be recognized or not'.
Millicent Fawcett of the NUWSS writing in The Common Cause August 1914.

'The Queen is most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write or join in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'woman's rights' with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feeling and propriety'.
Queen Victoria in 1879.

'To man belongs the kingdom of the head: to woman the empire of the heart...In every pure and legitimate relation - as daughter, sister, wife, mother - woman is the direct assistant of individual man."
James McGrigor Allan Woman Suffrage Wrong 1890.

"The fear I have is, lest we should invite her unwittingly to trespass upon the delicacy, the purity, the refinement, the elevation of her own nature, which are the present sources of its power'.
William Gladstone Letter on Female Suffrage to Samuel Smith, MP, 1892.
The whole text can be found in Lewis, J. (ed) (1987) Before the Vote was Won: Arguments For and Against Women's Suffrage, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 443-447.

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