The Changing role and status of women in Britain since 1900 Essay

1) Source A is showing a suffragette demonstration in 1908. The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) they were campaigning for women to gain the vote, the leader of the WSPU was Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst who was very determined she always took direct action in leading her team and often used violence to get attention to prove her point. There is a policeman in this picture because violence was always expected at demonstrations like this so police always went just in case.

The text next to the photograph says that 200000 people attended the demonstration which is a lot of people, so this shows that the WSPU was popular and had a lot of supporters. The suffragettes used propaganda in the form of posters and postcards, and by the amount of people that turned up to the demonstrations showed a lot of people agreed with their opinion

Source A isn’t that useful, it only shows one part of a demonstration and doesn’t really show anything with use, its just a small part of one demonstration and they had lots of demonstrations that were massive and had thousands of people attend so this source is very un-useful for the fact that nothing is really happening in it and there aren’t many people involved either, it does prove that people went to the demonstrations and supported the WSPU but it doesn’t show enough people to say that it was successful or the actual power of the group itself.

2) Source D is newspaper article it says “a suffragist attack on the house of commons” but it wasn’t the suffragists that did it, it was the suffragettes, they were the ones who used violence in any of their demonstrations the writer doesn’t seem to like either the suffragists or suffragettes as he doesn’t pay very much attention to who they are that’s why he gets the name of the group wrong, the writers is quite harsh against the campaigners as he puts them down a lot and doesn’t bother any kind of fairness in what he wrights, he makes sure he uses language like disgraceful and shameful. This article was written in a very popular newspaper so it reflected on a lot of people’s views and a lot of people probably agreed with it too.

Source E is propaganda for the campaigning for suffrage and trying to get the vote. The attitude against the women isn’t obvious. It’s a postcard and so the suffragettes hoped people would buy it so there would be the attitude of the suffragettes going around and people maybe agreeing with them. The postcard is persuasive and clear what it is trying to say is obvious. It makes people think when they read it. The pictures are eye-catching and the words explain the images. A lot of people would have seen the postcard so it may have affected a lot of people’s opinion.

3) Source A is showing a suffragette demonstration in 1908. It says that abut 200000 people went to this demonstration so this is showing that the demonstration was very popular. This is evidence that women were trying to get the vote so suffrage was not due to the war alone. With so many campaigns going on and so many people in on the demonstrations it was too hard for the government to deny women the vote after 1918. Source B also shows that the war was not the only reason why women get the vote. It is written in 1911 before the war and clearly has nothing to do with it. The woman who made the speech (was biased as she was a suffragette) she describes how direct attention grasps peoples attention and brings the governments attention to all the women to make them give them the vote, she tries to point out that what they are doing is for a reason and is not overdramatic or exaggerated in any way, what they are doing is for their vote and they won’t stop till they get it.

The woman attracting so much attention shows that it is not true that it is the war tat is the reason the women got the vote. Source C is part of a speech made by the speaker in source B’s mother and is also biased. It is pre-war but she is being more persuasive and appealing to women and men to convince them to support women’s suffrage. Lots of persuasive public speeches like these ones were made, and so they must have had an influence on people. Women’s suffrage in 1918 could not have been due to the war alone when so much was being done to get women the vote before the war even started.

Sources D and E both show some of the publicity that the suffragettes received in 1910 and are both biased, but they give out 2 very different messages. D is an newspaper article and describes the suffragettes badly and is very anti-suffragettes. The fact that a thing that the suffragettes do makes headlines in newspapers shows how powerful their acts were. Source E is a postcard which the suffragettes gave out as propaganda for their cause. This is just one example they used.

It is a very point proving post card and makes it look silly for men to be able to have the vote and women not, it shows women are responsible and seems as if they would be more sensible with the chance to vote. They made their campaigns well-known so that even before the war a lot of people wanted votes for women. Without the war women would probably have still got the vote. I do think though that the second one is a lot more affective as it is more noticeable and people are more likely to read it and agree with it because its obvious and sort of makes your mind up for you.

Source F is again pre-war and is against votes for women. With it showing Lord Curzon making a speech about suffrage in 1912 shows that it was on people’s minds before the war, so proving the war can’t be the reason for the women getting the vote. He says he firstly is not convinced campaigning works, which slightly implies the war was the reason for the war but he goes on to say women should be treated equally as they do not fight, but everything would be reversed if there was a war.

Source G is also about the pre-war action, but unlike the rest was written in 1993 by a historian gives facts and opinions so it is not biased; this also makes this source less reliable than others as it was written a lot later and could have some incorrect facts or statements in and not have the full correct story as the writer was relying on other sources. Source A is different from source G because A says 200,000 people attended and G says that the majority of women at this time didn’t see their personal freedoms in terms of politics. It also says women were more interested in changing things like child birth protection and having comfortable homes.

Source H shows men and women are equal and that they are working together. This source is quite biased because it is written by women and is for women so it’s very biased against not having the vote. It shows how women were trying to add and make a large contribution to the war and how they tried to help and prove that they were equals and has as much right and power as the men did. Source I is quite reliable it is written by a historian about the women’s suffrage process during the war and strongly implies that the war did not help women to get the vote. He thinks it made men not want to get the vote because they felt threatened .It shows how not all women were trusted to do men’s jobs and were restricted and not even given a chance to prove wrong. Even though this is a negative source it still has a very important point and raises the right awareness.

Source J Shows that the women wouldn’t have got the vote if it wasn’t for the war because he says that before the war he was against them having the vote, however he says after how can you not give the vote. Although only one man wrote this source he was very important he was the Prime minister between 1908 and 1915 and so was in a position to know a lot about both campaigns before the war and the women’s progress during the war. He admits he was wrong which makes this source seem more reliable but you could argue that he tried to make his statement more honest and reliable because he wanted more votes and women would be a good group to gain support from.

Source K is another pre-war source it was written in the last summer it is a diary of debutante she was very wealthy (upper class) she already had everything she needed and life was fine as it was for her so nothing that was going on really affected her too much to do with jobs, it sounds reliable as she says “we all” think, so she sound like she is speaking for women but really she is just speaking about women in her class. Although there are good and bad points about this source a point to think about is the fact that this was a diary only written for herself so anything written in it was written in and was confidential and probably never expected it to be read so its not going to be trying to persuade any kind of audience.

Since 1900 the role and status of women had been changing. Their role in society had been growing. New job opportunities emerged for women as teachers, shop workers, clerks and secretaries in offices. Women also gained more opportunities in education and were able to go to university to become doctors etc. With women’s roles changing so much, it was inevitable women would get the vote, but not necessarily in 1918 without the vote. The war made the subject of equality to women come into more powerful attention so women would of probably go the vote but without the war they probably wouldn’t have got it by 1918.


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