The Changing Role and Status of women in Britain since 1900 – source related study

1. Source A is useful as it shows how united the Suffragettes were in 1908. It says in the caption beneath the photograph, that there was said to have been 200000 people who attended. They look like they are determined to get what they want. Some of the women are holding banners, flowers and flags. There is a policeman in the corner of the picture. This shows that the police thought that the protest might become violent. The Suffragettes were known for heckling at meetings, deliberately trying to get arrested and get sent to prison, and in 1908 they began to attack properties. The Suffragettes believed that peaceful campaigns were getting them nowhere. In 1908, women had already achieved many improvements in their education, legal rights and job opportunities.

However they still wanted to earn the right to be able to vote in General Elections. This may be what the protest was for. The Suffragettes had a lot of support, particularly in London. There were thirty-four branches of the WSPU in London alone and fifty-four branches in the rest of the country. Source A shows that the Suffragettes are like a big team and family. They all look determined to get what they want. The WSPU’s motto was ‘Deeds not Words,’ this meant that they believed that actions were stronger than words.

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Emmeline Pankhurst is leading the protest. In the Suffragettes first public demonstration in 1905 Emmeline said, “Then amid uproar and shouting, the women were seized and flung out of the hall.” In conclusion this source shows that the Suffragettes were a strong group of women who had strong opinions and views. This source shows that the Suffragette movement was a strong force to be reckoned with thus affecting people’s attitudes. There would be those people in full support, with many women openly and many offering passive support. Men’s attitudes would be very different. Up until now the women’s place was in the home. The police’s attitude was one of recognition of their considerable power and they feared the implications of this, thus the police presence in Source A suggests the need for containment and prevention of violence.

2. Source D and E are both extremely useful in showing us what peoples views about the Suffragettes were in 1910. Source D is taken from a British newspaper, and is obviously written by a man. It is reliable to show the some peoples opinions of what the Suffragettes were doing at the time. Source E is also useful as it is a postcard that was issued by the Suffragettes. It shows the suffragettes opinion. The postcard would be used to persuade people to become one of them. It shows what women could be a mayor or a nurse, and can’t vote however men could be lunatics or drunkards and they can vote. This is biased as it has been created by the suffragettes, and is very one sided. However Source D is also biased as it doesn’t show the views of the suffragettes, only the writers view about what went on.

In Source D the writer uses phrases such as ‘shameful recklessness’ and ‘desperate women’ to show how the country should be ashamed of the way the suffragettes have acted. This newspaper article does not once say why the suffragettes were doing what they were doing. I’m sure many people agreed with what was written however I am also sure a lot of people were against what was written. In the headline it says ‘ DISGRACEFUL SCENES Reckless Women Charge Headlong into Cordon of Police.’ The word ‘disgraceful’ suggests that the country should be ashamed of the actions of the Suffragettes. Men expected women to be quiet and obedient so when women started to rebel against this stereotype, the campaign for women’s votes was important news, especially with the papers. The Suffragettes began to create posters, which got them some sympathy from people in the public.

In Source E it says ‘What a woman may be and yet not have the Vote.’ Underneath, it has pictures of women being a mayor, a nurse, a doctor, teacher and a factory hand. It also says ‘what a man may have been and yet not lose the vote.’ Underneath, it has pictures of men being a convict, a lunatic, an owner of white slaves, being unfit for service and a drunkard. Of course, women could also be all of the things the males are, and the males are able to have all of the livings the females have however in this postcard the women have only been shown as being good things, whereas the men have been shown as being bad. This would have got the suffragettes some more support.

In conclusion I believe that both sources are equally reliable. They both are biased and they both show different opinions of different people at the time.

3. When the First World War began so many men had gone away to fight, that women were needed to do their jobs. This meant that the number of women working in industry increased massively. The war made it acceptable for women to work in shipyards, collieries and brickyards. Some of them worked as highly skilled engineers and carpenters. In some of these jobs, women were welcomed, however in others they were resented because they had little or no training for jobs, which had previously needed very skilled people.

If there was an election during the war most soldiers wouldn’t be able to vote. Women soon realised that this could be their chance to pressurize the government to let them vote. There were no demonstrations, however there were many meetings between women’s leaders and politicians and telegrams and letters were sent to MPs. In 1918 Parliament passed a new law, which allowed women over the age of 30 to be able to vote.

From my knowledge of what happened, I believe that the war was a big part of Parliament passing a law allowing women to vote. As there may not of been enough males in the country at the time of the war, to vote if there was an election, they needed females. I also think that because most men were away during the war, the women proved themselves to be useful, as they started doing work in factories and so on. Men had never seen females do this before so it may have been a shock to them to see that women could do things just as good as them. In Source J, Herbert Asquith says, “I will find it impossible to withhold from women the power and the right of making their voices heard.” This proves that women proved themselves by working while the men were away at war. They even convinced an ex prime minister that they were worthy of having a say about what goes on in there life.

The war didn’t help the French Suffragette women gain the vote.

In conclusion I do agree with the statement: “Without the First World War British women would not have gained the right to vote in 1918.” I also believe that women would not have received as much respect from men as they do today if the war hadn’t of happened. Women had a chance to prove to people that they were able to do things just as well as men in this period of time.

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