Why Did Some Women Get the Vote in 1918?

2224 Words May 11th, 2011 9 Pages
This essay shall attempt to explain why some women got the vote in 1918 by discussing male and female spheres, the emergence of the suffrage societies and the similarities and differences between them. It shall proceed to discuss anti-suffrage, the role of politics, discuss how the war affected the women’s movement and finally the 1918 Representation of the People Act. It shall conclude was a summary of the points discussed.

To understand the reasons behind some women getting the vote in 1918, one must look back at the history of the women’s movement to fully understand the reason female suffrage was sought and gained. In Victorian Britain there was a longstanding and persistent belief that men and women occupied separate spheres. The
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Consequently the militant campaign escalated in 1912 with attacks on government and commercial buildings and commonly took the form of window smashing. Other militant tactics involved setting fire to letters boxes, defacing buildings, burning golf greens with acid and firebombing the newly built country house of then Prime Minister Lloyd George.

Suffragettes arrested for criminal damage refused to pay fines and were then put in prison. As a protest against being denied the rights of political prisoners, they went on hunger strike. The government authorised force-feeding, which met with resistance not only from the prisoners themselves but also from the movement at large. By 1913 the Liberal government introduced the Prisoners Temporary Discharge Act, which was also known as the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act, which meant that once the prisoner’s health had deteriorated past a certain point, they could be temporarily released to regain their health and then rearrested again.
The catch was that they were soon rearrested if they did not return to the prison voluntarily so that the cycle of hunger-strike and force-feeding could be continued. Despite the new technique failing to change government policy, it contributed to suffragette propaganda. The purpose of suffrage propaganda was to build up an irresistible pressure of public opinion and at the same time convert MPS to