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Tashin Naidoo 10I Mrs Jones

11 October 2012 History extended writing

The Suffragettes’ cause was noble but their methods were not always
a) What methods did the Suffragettes use to fight for female suffrage?
The Suffragettes were a radical group of women who fought for the rights
and equality of women. For over ten years, the Suffragettes endeavoured for
the acquisition of the law that would allow women the right to vote,
however Parliament weren’t approving of this. At the beginning of their
campaign, immensely imperative meetings were held; politicians were jeered
at; and petitions were sent to Parliament. In order to portray the significance
and belief of their cause, the Suffragettes would: smash windows; burn post
boxes; attack members of Parliament; and petrol-bombed and burned
buildings. Majority of these women were arrested and sent to prison. Here,
they went on “hunger strikes” which resulted in these women not eating.
Eventually, these women were force-fed via tube where liquid food was
poured down. One Suffragette, namely Emily Davidson, was so extreme that
she attempted to hang a banner of the King’s racehorse at a derby day. She
was unfortunately killed in the process, however her death resulted in the
strengthening of the Suffragettes and she became a martyr.
b) What criticisms did this lead to?
The Suffragettes’ resulted in the negative portrayal of women. The
Suffragettes’ were depicted as inappropriately behaved women who showed
no decency or decorum in public. The Suffragettes’ resulted in giving women
in general a bad name. This made men wonder as to how could Parliament
allow such an “unstable” group of women to vote. The men also feared that
should women be given the vote, they would ‘swamp’ the votes of men.
The Suffragettes challenged these arguments in the literature they published,
but it was the non-militant suffragists who led the scholarly debate over the
rights for women to vote, especially Millicent Fawcett, and who is credited
for winning the intellectual battle. The feminists of the 19th century argued
that sexuality and politics, believed to be in “independent events”, were in
fact inseparable from one another, and suffragists perceived their campaign
as the best way to end a ‘sex war’ brought about by the separate district
ideology; which encouraged the view of women as sexual objects, and
perpetuated women’s powerless in both vicinities. By allowing women to
vote, they could help alleviate some of the social problems in Britain at that
time, which they felt men were less interested in solving. The approach of
the Suffragists was more sensible and civilised than the Suffragettes, thus
earning more respect from the public.
c) How effective were their methods?
The Suffragettes’ use of demonstrations to gain publicity and recognition was
effective, however, the Suffragettes’ methods used to persuade Parliament
to allow the Right to Women’s vote were ineffective. Women would then
vandalise the cities as well as wrote petitions and held meetings. This
resulted in them being arrested and going on hunger-strike in prison. This
was another ineffective method because the new government knew that
these women were not going to stop and thus allowed the hunger-strikes to
continue. When the women were weak enough till they almost died, they
were let out of prison to recuperate. Once they had fully recovered, they
were put back in prison. This method was known as The Cat and Mouse Act
which was developed by Asquith. This was a very effective method which
allowed for the downfall of the Suffragettes’ and severely weakened them.
The Suffragettes’ next attempt was also less fruitful. During World War I, the
women stopped their campaigning activities and focused on the war. From
1914 to 1918 they were inactive. At the end of the war, these women
approached Parliament with their petition as they had felt they had proven
themselves, however, once again they were rejected. Eventually, women
over the age of 30 were given in 1918, and women over the age of 21 were
given the vote in 1928. This shows that through their hardships and
determination, the Suffragettes were finally able to succeed.

The Suffragettes’ cause was noble but their methods were not very effective,
however through their courage, determination and willingness; they
prevailed and were able to achieve what they had so long strived for.