Women Against the Vote: Female Anti-Suffragism in Britain by Julia Bush

By Julia Bush

British ladies who resisted their very own enfranchisement have been ridiculed by means of the suffragists and feature on the grounds that been missed by way of historians. but those ladies, including the hundreds of thousands whose indifference bolstered the competition case, claimed to shape a majority of the feminine public at the eve of the 1st global conflict. via 1914 the equipped "antis" rivaled the suffragists in numbers, notwithstanding now not when it comes to publicity-seeking activism. The nationwide League for Opposing Women's Suffrage was once ruled by way of the self-consciously masculine management of Lord Cromer and Lord Curzon, but additionally seriously established upon a powerful cadre of ladies leaders and a generally girl club. Women opposed to the Vote seems at 3 overlapping teams of girls: maternal reformers, ladies writers and imperialist women. those ladies are then into motion as campaigners of their personal correct, in addition to supporters of anti-suffrage males. Collaboration among the sexes used to be no longer constantly user-friendly, even inside of a circulate devoted to separate and complementary gender roles. because the anti-suffrage girls pursued their very own different social and political agendas, they proven their affinity with the mainstream social conservatism of the British women's circulate. The rediscovered heritage of girl anti-suffragism offers new views at the campaigns either for and opposed to the vote. It additionally makes an immense contribution to the broader historical past of women's social and political activism in overdue 19th century and early 20th century Britain.

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Maternal Reformers and Education 35 beginning to pall? Direct evidence of this would be unlikely to find its way into the commemorative volume of letters. But in 1885 Lucy Soulsby jumped at the chance to undertake some teaching at Cheltenham Ladies College. The distinguished Dorothea Beale recognized her talent, at a time when highly educated women teachers were still in short supply. Two years as a form mistress led on to a successful application for the headship of Oxford High School, and the gates were finally opened to a wider world of women’s education and social ideals.

This tends to reinforce the central conclusions of the present study. Women opposed their own enfranchisement for constructive as well as negative reasons, and they did so in very large numbers. Women against the vote deserve more attention within histories of anti-suffragism and of suffragism alike, for the relationship between these opposing movements was more than merely reciprocal. Suffragists and anti-suffragists defined each other’s ideas and activities through collaboration as well as through conflict.

H. Green and his Age (Lanham: University Press of America, 1983); E. Anderson, ‘The Feminism of T. H. ’, History of Political Thought, 12/4 (1991), 671–93. Maternal Reformers and Education 37 newly launched High Church foundation could move decisively in support of the education of women, linked to a more socially aware Christianity. Further inspiration for the female educational cause was drawn from John Ruskin’s presence in Oxford, as Slade Professor of Art. ⁴⁷ Though Oxford remained an enclave of the British male elite in the later nineteenth century, most of the colleges were no longer semi-monastic communities which shunned all female presence.

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