Suffragette Movement

grayscale photo of group of people performing rally on street
grayscale photo of group of people performing rally on street
Photo by Giacomo Ferroni/Unsplash

As with recent events, as well as the Bristol riots and the draconian police bill I have decided to look upon the suffragette movement. 

At the time only 60% could vote but the poor, insane and women were not allowed. The votes for women colours were in their magazine, sash and even scarves which were green, white and purple. The Pankhursts even bought out a board game called Pank-aSquith with Edwardian ideas and lead figure of suffragettes which included obstacles in the game. 

The members of parliament at the time and Prime Minister Asquith refused the Pankhurst’s pleas to meet. 

The suffragettes got annoyed at the government ignoring them and chained themselves to railings outside the houses of parliament, in order to gain further publicity. Adaptive belts that were used in lunatic asylums were used by the suffragettes as this made it problematic for the police to release them. 

As the government continued to ignore them, they used much more militant ways to push the issue. They often carried toffee hammers, which were used for window smashing in order for the public and businesses to take note of their campaign. These toffee hammers were light and easy to conceal. 

Emily Davidson, a suffragette, was considered an extremist. She once snuck into the House of Commons during the census and hid in a cupboard to ensure that her address was registered as the House of Commons. 

In 1910 the WSPU was still being stonewalled by the government. There was a commotion with Black Friday, which was caused by the suffragettes. The police intimated, physically and sexually assaulted around 150 women. Around 100 women were arrested. The suffragettes were usually offered a fine but many wanted to go to prison to create more publicity. Many were taken to Holloway Prison in London. 

They would also then go on hunger strike and then would be force-fed by the authorities. This then created more publicity. This caused a catastrophe for the government. The cat and mouse act was introduced which caused more issues. It let women out and then the police would re-arrest them. This became a rallying point for the suffragettes. 

Around 1910-1912 the government couldn’t ignore the movement. The votes for women however lacked full cabinet support. This caused an army of women to smash windows all over the west end, they firebombed MPs homes and set alight churches. 

The suffragette movement was intellectual violence and the women were God-fearing and nice ladies who were politicised by the suffragette campaign. 

The final straw came when on June 4th 1913, when Emily Davidson went to the Derby horse race and was determined to disrupt it. She was immediately killed by an incoming horse. She did it to create front-page news. She became Pankhurst’s first suffragette martyr and over 6,000 women marched to St George’s in Bloomsbury. 

In August 1914 the war interrupted the suffragette’s movement. However, women had to step into men’s shoes. Women over 30 got the vote and in 1928 all women got the vote.

So, in theory, us women have not had the right to vote for 100 years and we are still some way of changing for equality for women. Maybe we need to reignite the suffragette movement and spirit once again?

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