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 the social struggle for women as “our civil war”.