As with recent events, as well as Bristol riots- and the draconian police bill I have decided to look upon the suffragette movement. At the time only 60% could vote and the poor, insane and women were not allowed to. The votes for women colours were in there magazine, sash and even scarves these are green, white and purple. The Pankhurst's even bought out a board game called Pank- a-Smith with Edwardian ideas and lead figure of suffragettes which included obstacles in the game. The members of parliament at the time Prime Minister Asquith refused Pankhurst’s pleas to meet. The suffragettes got annoyed at the government ignoring them and chained themselves to railings outside the Houses of Parliament- in order to gain further publicity also. Adaptive belts that were used in lunatic asylums where used by the suffragettes as this made it problematic for the police to release them.
As the government continued to ignore them, they used much more militancy ways to push the issue . They often carried toffee hammers as these were used for window smashing in order for the public and businesses to take note of there campaign. These toffee hammers were light and easy to conceal. Emily Davidson, a suffragette was considered a extremist. She once snuck into the House of Commons during the census and hid in a cupboard to ensure that her address was registered as the House of Commons.
In 1910 the WSPU was still being stonewalled by the government. There was a commotion with Black Friday, which was caused by the suffragettes. The police intimated and physically and sexually assaulted around 150 women. Around 100 women were arrested. The suffragettes were usually offered a fine but many wanted to go to prison to create more publicity. Many were taken to Holloway Prison in London. They would also then go on hunger strike and then would be force fed by the authorities. This then created more publicity. This caused a catastrophe for the government. The cat and mouse act was introduced which caused more issues . It let women out and then the police would re- arrest them. This became a rallying point for the suffragettes.
Around 1910-1912 the government couldn’t ignore the movement. The votes for women however lacked full cabinet support. This caused a army of women to smash windows all over the west end, they fire bombed MPs homes and set alight churches. The suffragette movement was intellectual violence and the women were God fearing and nice ladies who were politicised by the suffragette campaign.
The final straw came when on June 4th 1913- Emily Davidson who went to the Derby horse race and was determined to disrupt it . She was immediately killed by a incoming horse. She did it to create front page news. She became Pankhurst’s first suffragette martyr and over 6,000 women marched to St George’s in Bloomsbury. In August 1914 the war interrupted the suffragettes movement . However, women had to step into men’s shoes. Women over 30 got the vote and in 1928 all women got the vote. So, in theory us women have not had rights to vote for 100 years and we are still some way of change for equality for women .
Maybe we need to reignite the suffragette movement and spirit once again?
Samantha Mansi 25.3.2021