The Suffragettes and the Cat and Mouse Act #Fawcett #MondayBlogs #Women

 

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It can only be estimated that the number of women who went to prison was more than 1,000 because many were imprisoned under public order offences and so are not easy to identify.

Neither is it certain how many went on hunger strike or were forcibly fed.

 But it is certain that the Suffragettes refused to bow to violence against them. 

 They were quite happy to go to prison. And, from 1909, women demanding the status of political prisoners began to refuse food. The government was extremely concerned that they might die in prison thus giving the movement martyrs. So prison governors were ordered to force-feed Suffragettes even though this caused a public outcry as forced feeding was traditionally used to feed those who were then called lunatics…as opposed to what were mostly educated women.

 Force-feeding was a serious problem. The force-feeding of hunger-striking suffragettes was invasive, demeaning, and dangerous, and in some instances it damaged the long-term health of the victims, because it should also be remembered that women were given disproportionately long sentences for minor offences such as protesting, resisting arrest, or smashing a window.

 There have been many studies of the letters, diaries and autobiographies written by prisoners indicating the horrors of force-feeding and the particularly harsh treatment of poor or working-class women. One describes the experiences of Lady Constance Lytton, who disguised herself as a poor woman named Jane Warton in order to gather evidence of differential treatment.

Constance Lytton

Jane Warton was “held down by wardresses as the doctor inserted a four-foot-long tube down her throat. A few seconds after the tube was down, she vomited all over her hair, her clothes and the wall, yet the task continued until all the liquid had been emptied into her stomach. As the doctor left ‘he gave me a slap on the cheek’, Constance recollected, ‘not violently, but, as it were, to express his contemptuous disapproval’.”

She was forcibly fed seven more times before her true identity was revealed and she was released. Constance never fully recovered from her ordeal – she suffered a stroke in 1912 and died in 1923.

 Forcible feeding was humiliating, especially so for poor women fed through the rectum and vagina. The knowledge that new tubes were not always available and that used tubes may have been previously inflicted on diseased people undoubtedly added to the feelings of abuse, dirtiness and indecency that the women felt.

 

Herbert Asquith

 The government of Asquith responded with The Cat and Mouse Act When a Suffragette was sent to prison, it was assumed that she would go on hunger strike as this caused the authorities maximum discomfort. The Cat and Mouse Act allowed the Suffragettes to go on a hunger strike so they became weaker and weaker. Force-feeding was not used. When the Suffragettes were very weak they were released from prison. If they died out of prison, this was of no embarrassment to the Government. However, they did not die but those who were released were so ill that they could take no part in violent Suffragette struggles. When the women who had been arrested and released had regained their strength, they were re-arrested for the most trivial of reason and the whole process started again.

This, from the government’s point of view, was a very simple but effective weapon against the Suffragettes.

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The move for women to have the vote had really started in 1897 when Millicent Fawcett  founded the National Union of Women’s Suffrage.

 

Millicent

 Millicent Fawcett believed in peaceful protest. She felt that any violence or trouble would persuade men that women could not be trusted to have the right to vote. Her game plan was patience and logical arguments. Fawcett argued that women could hold responsible posts in society such as sitting on school boards yet were not trusted to vote; she argued that if parliament made laws and if women had to obey those laws, then women should be part of the process of making those laws; she argued that as women had to pay taxes as men, they should have the same rights as men

And one of her most powerful arguments was that wealthy mistresses of large manors and estates employed gardeners, workmen and labourers who could vote……..but the women could not regardless of their wealth…..

Dame Millicett’s legacy continues today through the women’s rights charity, the Fawcett Society.

Welcoming the announcement, chief executive Sam Smethers called it a, “fitting tribute. Her contribution was great but she has been overlooked and unrecognised until now. By honouring her we also honour the wider suffrage movement.”

The Fawcett Society@fawcettsociety is the UK’s leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights.

The Fawcett Society’s story begins with  Millicent Fawcett , suffragist and women’s rights campaigner who made it her lifetime’s work to secure women the right to vote.

At the age of 19, she organised signatures for the first petition for women’s suffrage, though she was too young to sign it herself. She became President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (the NUWSS) from 1907-19. With 50,000 members it was the largest organisation agitating for female suffrage at the time. Her powerful and peaceful mass campaign was instrumental in securing the first extension of voting rights for women in 1918.

Millicent worked alongside the Suffragettes, who employed different, and more militant tactics in their campaign. From the beginning,  Millicent took an interest in women’s empowerment in its broadest sense; the suffragette colours were green, white and violet which stood for Give Women Votes. The suffragist colours, by contrast, reflected their broader movement: green, white and red or Give Women Rights.

In 1913 she was awarded a brooch engraved with “For Steadfastness and Courage”, which The Fawcett Society till has today.  Millicent Fawcett died in 1929, a year after women were finally given equal voting rights. Her work has continued ever since, with The London Society for Women’s Suffrage renamed as The Fawcett Society in her honour in 1953.

2018 marks 100 years since women first secured the right to vote, and  Millicent Fawcett will be making history again. She’ll become the first woman commemorated with a statue in Parliament Square– a landmark moment for the wider suffrage movement, and for women everywhere.

She went on to lead the constitutional suffrage campaign and made this cause her lifetime’s work, securing equal voting rights 62 years later. Today The Fawcett Society continues her legacy of fighting sexism and gender inequality, the belief being that no one should be prevented from reaching their full potential because of their gender.

The Fawcett Society campaigns to:

Close the gender pay gap. Secure equal power. Challenge attitudes and change minds. Defend women’s rights post-Brexit. There must be no turning the clock back.

THEIR VISION: A society in which the choices you can make and the control you have over your life are no longer determined by your gender.

THEIR MISSION: We publish compelling research to educate, inform and lead the debate. We bring together politicians, academics, grassroots activists and wider civil society to develop innovative, practical solutions

They campaign with women and men to make change happen.

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Millicent Fawcett founder the National Union of Women’s Suffrage #suffrage #women

Millicent

Because Winifred, the protagonist  in A Hundred Tiny Threads is involved in the Suffragette movement, I researched the life of Millicent Fawcett. This was a woman of great courage. What follows is part of one of the talks I give to various groups:

The move for women to have the vote had really started in 1897 when Millicent Fawcett founded the National Union of Women’s Suffrage.
Millicent Fawcett believed in peaceful protest. She felt that any violence or trouble would persuade men that women could not be trusted to have the right to vote. Her game plan was patience and logical arguments. Fawcett argued that women could hold responsible posts in society such as sitting on school boards yet were not trusted to vote; she argued that if parliament made laws and if women had to obey those laws, then women should be part of the process of making those laws; she argued that as women had to pay taxes as men, they should have the same rights as men

And one of her most powerful arguments was that wealthy mistresses of large manors and estates employed gardeners, workmen and labourers who could vote……..but the women could not regardless of their wealth…..

However, Fawcett’s progress was very slow. She converted some of the members of the Labour Representation Committee (soon to be the Labour Party) but most men in Parliament believed that women simply would not understand how Parliament worked and therefore should not take part in the electoral process.

This left many women angry and in 1903 the Women’s Social and Political Union (the WSPU) was founded by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia. They wanted women to have the right to vote and they were not prepared to wait. The Union became better known as the Suffragettes. Members of the Suffragettes were prepared to use violence to get what they wanted.

Fawcett and quote

Dame Millicent Fawcett is to be the first woman to be honoured with a statue in Parliament Square, the prime minister has announced.  The equal rights campaigner, who dedicated her life to getting the women’s vote, will stand alongside Sir Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela. 

“Sadiq Khan has announced the 59 women and men who fought for women’s suffrage are to be added to the plinth of a statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett. A statue of Fawcett designed by artist Gillian Wearing will be unveiled in London’s Parliament Square in April following a campaign led by Caroline Criado Perez. Fawcett is the first woman to be commemorated with a statue in Parliament Square. 100 years since some women and all men over 21 got the vote – what now? The Mayor of London has announced the names of 59 people who supported the fight for women’s right to vote on the centenary of the Representation of the People Act. The Act allowed some women over 30 and all men over 21 the right to vote. 

Read more at: http://bit.ly/2DS3Seo

Theresa May said Dame Millicent “continues to inspire the battle against the injustices of today. It is right and proper that she is honoured in Parliament Square alongside former leaders who changed our country. Her statue will stand as a reminder of how politics only has value if it works for everyone in society.”

The new statue will be funded using the £5m fund announced in last year’s spring Budget to celebrate this year’s centenary of the first British women to get the vote.

Dame Millicent died in 1929, a year after women were granted the vote on equal terms to men.

Dame Millicent’s legacy continues today through the women’s rights charity, the Fawcett Society.

Welcoming the announcement, chief executive Sam Smethers called it a, “fitting tribute. Her contribution was great but she has been overlooked and unrecognised until now. By honouring her we also honour the wider suffrage movement.”

The Fawcett Society: @fawcettsociety is the UK’s leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights.

The Fawcett Society’s story begins with Millicent Fawcett, a suffragist and women’s rights campaigner who made it her lifetime’s work to secure women the right to vote.

At the age of 19, she organised signatures for the first petition for women’s suffrage, though she was too young to sign it herself. She became President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (the NUWSS) from 1907-19. With 50,000 members it was the largest organisation agitating for female suffrage at the time. Her powerful and peaceful mass campaign was instrumental in securing the first extension of voting rights for women in 1918.

Millicent worked alongside the Suffragettes, who employed different, and more militant tactics in their campaign. From the beginning, Millicent took an interest in women’s empowerment in its broadest sense; the suffragette colours were green, white and violet which stood for Give Women Votes. The suffragist colours, by contrast, reflected their broader movement: green, white and red or Give Women Rights.

In 1913 she was awarded a brooch engraved with “For Steadfastness and Courage”, which The Fawcett Society still has today. Millicent Fawcett died in 1929, a year after women were finally given equal voting rights. Her work has continued ever since, with The London Society for Women’s Suffrage renamed as The Fawcett Society in her honour in 1953.

2018 marks 100 years since women first secured the right to vote, and Millicent Fawcett will be making history again. She’ll become the first woman commemorated with a statue in Parliament Square – a landmark moment for the wider suffrage movement, and for women everywhere.

She went on to lead the constitutional suffrage campaign and made this cause her lifetime’s work, securing equal voting rights 62 years later. Today they continue her legacy of fighting sexism and gender inequality through hard-hitting campaigns and impactful research.  They believe in a society where no one is prevented from reaching their full potential because of their gender.

The Fawcett Society campaigns to:

Close the gender pay gap. Secure equal power. Challenge attitudes and change minds. Defend women’s rights post-Brexit. There must be no turning the clock back.

THEIR VISION: A society in which the choices you can make and the control you have over your life are no longer determined by your gender.

THEIR MISSION: We publish compelling research to educate, inform and lead the debate. We bring together politicians, academics, grassroots activists and wider civil society to develop innovative, practical solutions

They campaign with women and men to make change happen.

 

Judith Barrow,originally from Saddleworth, near Oldham,has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for thirty eight years. 
She has BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and a MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. She has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions. She has completed three children’s books.
She is also a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council. 

She says:-
My latest book, A Hundred Tiny Threads, is the prequel to the trilogy and is the story of Mary Howarth’s mother,Winifred, and father,Bill. Set between 1910 & 1924 it is a the time of the Suffragettes, WW1 and the Black and Tans, sent to Ireland to cover the rebellion and fight for freedom from the UK and the influenza epidemic. It is inevitable that what forms the lives, personalities and characters of Winifred and Bill eventually affects the lives of their children, Tom,Mary, Patrick and Ellen

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6