Women During The War Essay

2662 words - 11 pages

To what extent was female extremism the most important factor in women gaining social equality between 1860 and 1960 in Britain?"I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights."[1] These were the words of UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson in 2014. Her speech was designed to say that gender inequality is still present to this day, with women having inferior ...view middle of the document...

Many feminist historians believe that the Suffragettes were a big cause to women attaining the vote. However, was it really the breaking windows, arson attacks and hunger strikes that persuaded the most important people in Britain's political society that women deserved the vote? "The argument of the broken pane of glass is the most valuable argument in modern politics."[4] These acts gained attention from the media which did get their opinion and cause across to many members of society who wouldn't have even thought of such actions. "It was the Suffragettes who brought colour and drama to the movement. Whether one agreed or disagreed with militant tactics, they kept the Suffrage campaign in the news. And more and more women flocked to join the cause."[5] The Suffragette's famous illegal acts often landed them in prison, which caused more controversy than the legal acts themselves. Being in prison however, did not stop the acts of the Suffragettes and their passion towards getting the vote. Marion Wallace Dunlop first started the 'hunger strike' cause in 1909, thus many suffragettes following her act. The government tried to tackle the problem by force feeding the women, which done more damage than good for them by creating public outrage and sympathy for the suffragettes. This was when the government passed the Prisoner's Temporary Discharge for Ill Health Act in 1913, more commonly known as 'The Cat and Mouse Act'. Which enabled hunger striking Suffragettes to be released from prison, maintain their health and be re-arrested. The act shows that the government was beginning to give into the Suffragettes as they were finding it more of a task to deal with the extreme acts. Furthermore, this can be argued that the Suffragettes did in fact, help the cause as they put force on the government to show and pay attention to them and know they were there and what they were protesting.However, many historians argue that the Suffragettes impact on gaining the vote, was actually more negative. Martin Pugh rightly argues, "There are no grounds for the view that the WSPU shifted public opinion in its favour, rather than the reverse."[6] Although, the ideas of the Suffragettes gave the cause some attention, they supported the argument that women could not be controlled and therefore would not be trusted with the vote. The WSPU changed the opinions of politicians, including Winston Churchill who commented that the militancy actions had resulted in "their cause marching backwards." Lloyd George also had commented on the actions of the Suffragettes, "The action of the Suffragettes is ruinous. The feeling amongst sympathisers of the cause in the House of Commons is one of panic."[7] Furthermore, in 1910 membership of the WSPU was in decline as many people transferred to the more peaceful Suffragists. "Many women had no wish to be associated with the suffragettes and, therefore, chose to express their feelings by joining the non-militants."[8] However, further...

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