Arguments used to support women's right to vote
- Most women who supported the suffrage movement desired equal rights with men and many men agreed with them.
- Women's interests should be represented and safeguarded and the female point of view heard for reform.
- Women were especially interested in such matters as the legal status of women, health, reproduction, education, welfare, rights to custody and guardianship of children, to property, to work and to enter those trades and professions from which they were still barred.
- As women had to obey laws, they required a voice in framing those laws.
- Women who held property and paid taxes were still without representation.
- Women saw more and more men able to vote. Frequently women who held property found that whereas their male employees could vote, they themselves could not.
- Experience showed how certain groups of males benefitted as their right to vote was extended after 1832.
- History and experience show that the strong tend to use power to oppress the weak
Many women had no interest in the campaign and there were even women who actively campaigned against votes for women. There was opposition from many men also and several Anti-Women's Suffrage organisations were set up. The debate continued from the 1860s to the 1920s and many points were made on both sides.
What a Woman may be ... Mayor, nurse, mother, doctor or teacher, factory hand
What a Man may have been ... Convict, lunatic, proprietor of white slaves, unfit for service, drunkard
The Suffrage Atelier, 1912
- Select three of the above arguments which, in your opinion, were of most concern to the women. Give reasons for your choice.
- Select the argument which, in your opinion, would be likely to meet with most resistance from politicians. Give reasons for your choice.
- Do you think the postcard illustrated above was effective propaganda for the cause of women's suffrage? Give three reasons for your opinion.
- Evaluate the postcard as historical evidence for the role of women in 1912.
- Draw up a timeline to show the progress of suffrage for men in the nineteenth century.