Source A shows that woman can have responsible jobs in society but not have the vote. For example, a woman can be a doctor or teacher, and for these jobs they would have to be well educated and very responsible but still not be allowed the vote. On the other hand, a man can be a convict or drunkard but still have the vote. The overall message of source A is that suffragettes believed the voting system was unfair, and that women fully deserved the vote. Sources B and C support each other in a number of ways. One way is that they are both against suffragettes.
We know this because source B is called ‘woman or suffragette. ‘ Which means that you can’t be both and if you aren’t a woman you aren’t normal. In a similar way, source C shows an old woman looking mad and distorted, with a deranged facial expression being held back by a normal looking woman. The woman is saying to the suffragette ‘you help our cause? Why you’re it’s worst enemy. ‘ This is portraying the suffragettes as really bad people and they don’t help the cause of getting women the vote. Another example of how they are similar language to describe suffragettes in a bad way.
Source B says ‘Shrill cry’ and Source C says ‘Shrieking sister’ these words are used to show that suffragettes are hysterical. Sources B and C differ because Source B is completely against votes for women where as Source C isn’t. We know this because Source B says ‘women were and are destined to make voters rather then to be voters themselves. ‘ This means that a woman’s destiny is to produce children and bring up male voters rather than to be voters themselves.
We know that Source C is for women getting the vote because the calm women says ‘youhelp our cause? which is asking whether the hysterical lady helps the cause to Get the vote. Also the sign says ‘Great Liberal Meeting’ and the hysterical lady is holding up a sign saying ‘female suffrage’ which shows that she is about to go in and disrupt the meeting and campaign for women to get the vote. There are many reasons why women didn’t get the vote before the war. One reason was that they used violent tactics. Some of these violent tactics included smashing the windows of ten downing street, attacking the prime minister (Herbert Asquith) and they also held rallies, one of which had over two hundred women were arrested.
Emmeline Pankurst says in Source D ‘Our campaign made women’s suffrage a matter of news. ‘ However they were in the news for the wrong reasons. They wanted to be in the news to get publicity so they would get support, which would eventually lead to women getting the vote. But using violence just made people think they were hooligans. Also using violent tactics didn’t gain the support of the ministers.
We know this because in Source E, a member of parliament says ‘I have no hesitation in voting against the principle of giving the vote to women. He is saying this because of the violence that women used. Another reason that women didn’t get the vote is because they weren’t seen as being responsible enough. One example of this is when they went to prison for being violent, they would starve themselves. This got them into the news, but it seemed crazy that someone would risk their life in order to get women the vote. I also know from my own knowledge that there were other factors which stopped women from getting the vote. One of these factors was that they were considered to be intellectually inferior.
People thought that women didn’t know about politics and thought that they would only vote for the most handsome candidate. Another reason they didn’t get the vote is that they wanted the same rights as men. The Liberals didn’t want this because men were the householders and were more likely to be middle class and therefore more likely to vote Conservative. Also, they didn’t get the vote because they had never contributed to a war they didn’t deserve it. It can be seen that there were a number of different reasons which helps to explain why women had not got the vote by nineteen fourteen.
Source F is a poster showing a woman in a munitions factory. It is propaganda produced by the Government in which it shows a woman working and looking clean and contented. This is unlikely to be a realistic picture, because work in the munitions factory was hard physical labour. It is very biased because it is trying to get women to enroll in the munitions industry. Even though it is biased it is still useful because it tells us that the Government needed munitions workers during the war as the men that usually did this work were fighting the war.
Source G is statistics from a school textbook showing how women’s employment during the war increased. For example in July nineteen fourteen there were one hundred and seventy thousand women in the metal industry whereas in nineteen eighteen there were five hundred and ninety four thousand workers. This shows that women made a huge contribution to the war effort. The source has limitations because it tells us how many people worked between July nineteen fourteen and July nineteen eighteen, but it does not tell us if they carried on working after the war or how many women were unemployed during that period.
To check for reliability a historian would need to carefully cross check all sources. I agree with the statement ‘it was the work that women did during the war that earned them the vote,’ because they did many things that helped Britain during the war. One of these things was that they worked in the munitions factories, while the men were fighting. The work was hard and dangerous but women still worked in them, which gained the support of most people because it proved that they could do ‘a man’s job. ‘ Also women were recruited into the armed forces. They were used as nurses, secretaries and drivers.
They were also recruited as car mechanics and they joined the land army, taking place of the farmers who were fighting the war. Doing these things gained massive support, especially from the MP’s. Women had played a vital role in the war and the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith who was originally against votes for women, was now for it. In source H he said in the House of Commons in nineteen seventeen ‘for three years now, the suffragettes have not restarted that horrible campaign of violence. Not only that, they have contributed to every service during this war except that of fighting. This shows that because of their contribution to the war they got some support for women’s suffrage. Also some of the old arguments against women’s were no longer valid.
For example, before the war one of the arguments was that women were mothers not workers but the war proved that women were able to work well in hard conditions. Not all people were happy with the idea of women doing work that was usually done by men. An example of this is in source H which says ‘in farm’s, hospitals and factories they were greatly resented,’ and ‘men felt happiest if women became nurses or providers of refreshments for the troops. However, their contribution to the war wasn’t the only reason they got the vote as said in source I. ‘To say that the war brought votes for women is to make a very rough generalization. ‘ One of the other reasons was that the suffragettes had stopped their campaign of violence. People were keen to avoid it restarting and so they supported votes for women. Also the Government was now able to give women the vote without looking as though they had given in to pressure, which would make them look weak.
Also after the war a lot of men were wounded and injured people couldn’t vote. The Government thought it would be better to change the law to allow the injured to vote and so it was good timing to allow women to vote as well. In conclusion I partly agree with the statement ‘It was the work that women did during the war that earned them the vote. ‘ It cannot be denied that women’s work during the war changed men’s attitudes towards them, however there were other important factors that contributed, such as their end to violence.
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