Module 02: Should Women Vote? The Politics of Suffrage


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Texts Timeline Images


The documents in this section illustrate the evolving debate surrounding women's suffrage in Britain. All five texts draw connections between women's nature, voting rights, and the political system. As you read, think about the most effective way to compare and contrast the different positions presented.

1. "On the Enfranchisement of Women"
Harriet Taylor Mill, 1851

2. "Women and Representative Government"
Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Nineteenth Century, 1883

3. "Why We Are Militant"
Emmeline Pankhurst, 1913

4. "An Appeal Against Female Suffrage"
Mrs. Humphrey Ward, The Nineteenth Century, 1889

5. The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage
Almroth E. Wright, 1913



The table in this section contains the years in which European countries (and others) granted women the right to vote.

6. Table
Women's Suffrage in Europe



During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, newspapers and periodicals emerged as a means of mass persuasion. The spread of literacy and the availability of mass-circulation publications meant that advocates of certain positions could rely on the media to convey their points of view. Women's suffrage gained particular visibility in mass media since it affected individuals, political campaigns, and society as a whole. Moreover, with the onset of militant suffragism, the struggle became part of the public sphere in an unprecedented way. The images below appeared in publications advocating suffrage, in one avowedly opposed to suffrage, and in Punch, which commented on political events and social trends. To understand the images, think about the symbols, the locations and positions of figures, and the use of captions to determine the messages intended.

7. Cartoon: "Suffrage Universel: Guerre, Paix"
La Citoyenne, July 2-August 6, 1882

8. Concerning the Question of National Representation in Russia Without Distinction of Sex
PZhK, 1906

9. Cartoon: "Excelsior!"
Punch, July 13, 1910

10. "Votes for Working Women"
Suffragette, January 7, 1913

11. "Justice/Equality"
Suffragette, December 7, 1912

12. "A Leap-Year Proposal"
Anti-Suffrage Review, May 1912

13. "Nothing for Their 'Panes'"
Smashing Times

14. "Unmasked"
Anti-Suffrage Review, September 1912

15. "No Room for Me!"
Anti-Suffrage Review, April 1912

16. "Do you want women to have votes?"
Punch, December 1, 1909

17. "Cabinet Minister's Day"
Punch, Almanac for 1910

18. "Holiday Campaign"
Suffragette, August 29, 1913

19. "In Honour. . .Davison"
Suffragette, June 13, 1913

20. "Hereditary Instinct"
Punch, January 6, 1909

21. "The Suspect"
Punch, February 12, 1909

22. "Another Militant"
Punch, March 19, 1913

23. "War Incidents"
Punch, June 25, 1913

24. "Treatment of Political Prisoners"
Suffragette, January 10, 1913

25. "Cat and Mouse"
Suffragette, August 1, 1913