UK Postcard Collection Throws Negative Light on Women Calling for the Vote

Published August 17th, 2018 - 09:39 GMT
Postcards demonstrating the hostility towards the Suffragette movement (Twitter)
Postcards demonstrating the hostility towards the Suffragette movement (Twitter)

The humiliation heaped on women fighting for the vote has been brought to light in a collection of postcards.

Opening a window on the struggle of the Suffragette movement, images from the picture campaign dating between 1908 and 1912 have now re-emerged.

The anti-Suffragette postcards show the prejudice the movement faced when attempting to secure women the right to vote.

They portray now celebrated women such as Lady Emmeline Pankhurst as violent, unruly, domineering and lazy.



One shows two Suffragettes attacking a policeman, while another captures Mrs Pankhurst being led away from a protest by police after her arrest.

Others imply they were lazy and made their husbands do all the chores which were thought to be the women's responsibility.

A man can be shown washing clothes outside his home with the message below 'is your wife a Suffragette?', implying she is too preoccupied to do her household tasks.

Offensive images include a whining baby with the caption 'I want my vote', with campaigners portrayed as preaching parrots on a separate postcard.

One postcard even suggests men were facing discrimination at the hands of women who would get their own hotels and benches, forcing a man with bags to stay standing.

The caption below it reads 'By gum! Them Suffragettes be gitting everything'.

And a condescending poem compares women to mites and says society would be 'proud' of women if they stopped 'ranting about women's rights'.

The postcards are part of a large collection compiled by the Jersey-based collector David Gainsborough Roberts who died last year.

They have been consigned for sale with Henry Aldridge & Son, of Devizes, Wilts, and are tipped to sell for £300.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: 'These postcards reinforce why the Suffragette movement became so strong as women's rights were non-existent and they faced horrendous stereotypes.

'This was a time when social media had not even been dreamt of so postcards were the main propaganda medium available to those who opposed women's rights.

'The messages are very unpleasant and it shows how strong and brave these women were to go against the establishment.'

The Suffragette movement was founded in 1903 and many campaigners were imprisoned before they were released to help with the First World War effort, which they did with distinction. However, it is rooted in Millicent Fawcett's founding of the National Union of Women's Suffrage.

Voting rights for British women were won through a combination of the militant suffragettes and their more law-abiding sisters, the suffragists.

More than 1,000 women were arrested over the course of their campaign. Never before had so many women been imprisoned for a political cause. The women demanded to be given the status of political prisoners, and when the government refused, they went on hunger strike.

In November 1918, months after the conflict ended, women over the age of 30, who met a property qualification, were given the right to vote.

However, it would be another 10 years before this right was extended to all women over the age of 21 under the Equality of the Representation of the People Act.

A statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett was recently erected in Parliament Square, the first on the site to commemorate a woman.

The sale of the postcards takes place on Saturday.


This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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