Pankhurst and Women’s Suffrage

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the socially “ideal” woman was reserved, obedient, and dependent on her husband. Her roles were to manage the household and engage in charitable work. It was frowned upon for her to speak for herself, disagree with her spouse, and have a career.

Emmeline Pankhurst, a British political activist, challenged these social values in 1913. She targeted middle class men with the document “Militant Suffrage”, in which she explained why they should treat women differently. She advocated women’s suffrage, and explained that women were “in pursuit of liberty and the power to do useful public service”. She referred to┬áthe social struggle for women as “our civil war”.

3 thoughts on “Pankhurst and Women’s Suffrage

  1. In regards to Emmeline Pankhurst, I found it very interesting as to how radical of a woman she was and her beliefs. She claimed, “either women are to be killed or women are to have the vote,” (Pankhurst). By making such a bold statement, Pankhurst stood up to men and demanded them to change their ways. Here, she showed a tremendous amount of strength for women were expected to be “reserved” and “obedient,” something that she clearly is not after writing her piece, “Militant Suffragist.”

  2. Emmeline’s opinions show a clear shift in how women feel they should be treated. Her terms in the piece “Millitant Suffragist” liken this battle for civil rights to the European revolutions a few decades back, and force Middle Class men to see it as equally severe. She is not suggesting or hinting that rights should be given, she is demanding.

  3. In response to Emmeline’s “Militant Suffragist” terminology and ideals, I find it interesting that she essentially equated being a full citizen with civil rights to person-hood. To paraphrase, she states that society should kill women, or give them equal rights, for her time this was an extreme stance to take that is rather shocking to me. I’ll be very interested in hearing about societies response to this piece.

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