History - Women's suffrage

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  • Created by: Smartieee
  • Created on: 17-12-12 15:44

Arguments for female suffrage:

The vote is a way to get rid of other inequalities

Once the women had the vote they could put pressure on parliament to change other laws. Because parliament was full of men who had been voted for by men, they passed laws in favour of men. If women had the vote, and if parliament had some women MPs, laws improving the lives of women were more likely to be passed. Laws could be passed giving women equal pay, giving them equal rights within marriage, and giving them equal rights to divorce.

The vote will improve men’s moral and sexual behaviours

One of the slogans of the WSPU was ‘Votes for Women and Chastity for Men’, and some suffragettes like Christabel Pankhurst believed that giving women the vote would help improve men’s sexual behaviour. They thought that making women equal to men would make men follow women’s much higher moral standards. Christabel Pankhurst thought that pre-marital sex, prostitution and venereal disease would all disappear if women got the vote.

Britain was falling behind other countries, in the way of equality

By 1914, many women in the USA had the vote, as well as in NZ, and parts of Australia and even the Isle of Man. Yet Britain didn’t, this wasn’t just something that women thought, it must have also occurred to the men of the country.

Women are capable of being involved in politics

Many people at the time believed in the idea of ‘separate spheres’. The idea that God had intentially made men and women different, and that they ought to follow the roles in which God has set them. Women could have children, and breastfed them and should therefore stay at home in the ‘private sphere’. Men were better suited to the ‘public sphere’ of work and politics. Yet in the 19th century, women had begun challenging this idea. Many had become active in politics in lots of ways. Some women were allowed to vote in local elections, and in 1907, this was extended to all female rate payers. Some like Christabel Pankhurst, served as poor law guardians, while others campaigned to reform workhouses, improve hospitals and change the divorce laws and other inequalities. These women clearly showed that they were capable of understanding and being involved in politics.

There have been changes in women’s roles

We have seen that through new jobs like typing and teaching, many


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