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Rise In Social Consciousness Assignment

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Introduction - Rise In Social Consciousness

Composition of the movement

The women's movement is associated with the amendment of the constitution that can help in gaining women's voting rights. In the victorian era, this movement took a large form and became a nationalist movement. The movement aims to achieve equal rights of voting for women. In the 19th century, the concept of feminism took shape in the UK in the form of political movements where women demanded their educational, electoral, and labor rights (Atria, 2022). It is linked to the values of the democratic system of governance prevailing g in the UK. The movement started in 1862, August. Mary Smith, with the support of other spinsters, is considered to be the pioneer of the movement. The movement gained value in the next few years and 1866, it gained over 1500 signatures in the suffrage petitions by the women presented in the House of Commons. In 1870, an act was passed for married women taht granted them the right to own money and property. The progress of the movement was seen in 1903, which was a significant year in which a union named WSPU or the women's social union and political union was formed. The motto of this union was words and not deeds. It was the result of this union that militant action was seen in the women's suffragists. Hence, the timeline of the movement could be traced over the next 20 years and finally, in the year 1929, women who were above 21 years of age were entitled to voting rights. Another point of significance was the election of Nancy Astor as the first MP, who was a female in the country UK (British Library, 2022). However, in the year 1903, the movement was on a crucial stage that resulted in its splitting.

 The split in the movement for the women's suffrages occurred during the 15th amendment in which the black men were granted the voting rights whereas the white and the black women were deprived of it. Hence, the major cause of the split was the disagreement of the parties in the 14th and the 15th amendments. This, later on, resulted in the development of two separate parties or groups namely NWSA and AWSA (National Perk service, 2022). The NWSA stands for ‘National women's suffrage association’ and the AWSA stands for ‘American Women Suffrage Association. NWSA was led by Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton and the AWSA was led by Henry Blackwell, Lucy Stone, and Julia Howe. The suffragettes employed various tactics for dealing with the movement and the major tactical move from their side was increasing the role of militancy in the movement. As opined by Purkayastha (2020), this movement was aimed at ensuring the rights of women. The major reason behind employing the militancy tactics was to publicize the movement and gather more support to ensure its success. The National party for women was formed in the year 1916, and the members of this party participated in picketing activities, hunger strikes, and various acts of civil disobedience. The WW1 also saw a surge during this time and definitely, it has an impact on the movement. According to Steinson (2019), the WW1 break out had a positive effect on the movement as it provided an opportunity for these suffragettes to convince the national leaders that all the female citizens of the country deserve voting rights. Thus it helped in strengthening the suffrage movement and grasping the situation.

The opposition of the movement

The opposition to the movement can be explained by the backward mindset of the anti-suffragists. The anti-suffragists argue that worm is not meant to do anything beyond looking after their families. They supported the idea taht women were themselves not willing to take part in the politics of the country. The belief system of the anti-suffragists was based on the idea that women lacked the mental capacity or the needed expertise to provide significant opinions on political issues (NWHM, 2022). The National Association was the main party taht opposed this movement. It is based on the idea of values upholding related to the roles and responsibilities of women and that they are fundamentally different from men. The argument put forward by them is that the involvement of women in voting and political domain threatened their domestic life.

Many argumentswere presented by the people in the opposition to granting the right to vote to women. The first major argument was put forward by Lord Curzon by stating that women are unable to be a part of the police forces or the army, and hence they are undeserving of sending men to warn or include themselves in the law-making process. The second argument presented by Curzon mentions that women lack a well-balanced mind and temperament of calmness in the situation of emergencies or emotional excitement. A prominent leader of the opposition Mary Ward presented the third argument that well-educated women were more capable of being better mothers and better workers in the sphere of non-politics (National Perk service, 2022).

The Antis were those women and men who opposed the movement. However, they didn't necessarily become part of the organized movement against the suffragettes. The two main leaders who emerged as the leaders of aunties were Herbert Asquith and William Gladstone. The tactics employed by the Antiswere based on prejudice against women. This involved distributing the pamphlets such as NUWSS pamphlets in the common mass. For example, in one of such pamphlets released by the opposition group, the National Association was based on opposing the actions of the suffragettes to convince common household women to fight for their right to vote. Such pamphlets had titles such as ‘Housewives!’, ‘Spot removers’, ‘Vote No on suffrage movement’, ‘Talked Out!’ and ‘Household hints written in bold (JWA, 2022). The tactic was signing the petitions against the movement by the opposition members, political cartoons, and caricatures to mock the movement. The quote ‘Women’s franchise will make England the laughing stock of Europe’ adequately voices the demands of the opposition (British Library, 2022). Another quote from the Antis states that ‘It will bring misery on our homes and ruin on our empire’(British Library, 2022). It is interesting to note that the opposition resulted in the conversion to a formal organization. This organization was named as National Association. The members of this group held the view that granting the women right to vote will result in a moral decline, lead to the neglect of children, and result in an increase in the rate of divorce (NWHM, 2022).

WW1 and its impact on the movement

WW1 had a profound impact on the women's movement and it functioned in the favor of the movement and its success. It paved a way forward for the women to strengthen their movement

The movement hoped to achieve that the prejudice is erased and the national leaders are convinced to be amendments to the constitution. This resulted in the 19th amendment of the constitution that gave the women right to vote. During the war outbreak from the year 1914 to the year 1918, the suffragette movement saw an uprise in terms of the action of the militancy. WW1 resulted in strengthening the movement and induced a positive shift in the attitude of the people towards the rights of women and more specifically the voting rights. (Stanford News, 2020, August). The contribution of the women to the success of the movement is immense.

The reaction of the patriarchy towards this movement was predominantly negative. The men in the society were characterized by discrimination against women and their rights. The women suffrages employed various tactics other than militant tactics. These include petitioning, lobbying, parades, holding pageants, picketing, and public demonstrations. This can be supported with the help of the quote ‘I would rather be a rebel than a slave’ stated by Emmeline Pankhurst, a key politician involved in the movement. As per Victoria's attitude, it is believed by the Victorians that the only place for a woman is a household environment and that is the only place where they belong to.Thus the Vics values posed major challenges to the movement. It is to be noted that a majority population of women in the Victorian era were part of the anti-Suffragist group. The major challenge was that the women themselves were least interested in getting their rights (NPS, 2022). The contribution of the government of the country is critically evaluated by many historians.

 It is suggested by the historians that in the initial phases of the movement in which hunger strikes were there; the suffragettes were beaten and sent to prison. This resulted in outrage in the public in 1913 and the government introduced the act named ‘Cat and mouse. The government is reported to react aggressively to these movements by forcing feeding the suffragettes (BBC, 2022). However, in the latter stages of the movement, the government passed the amendment acts taht granted women to have equal rights as men and this included voting right as well. The year 1918 signifies a major achievement in which it was confirmedthat the Senate has passed the 19th amendment and the process of ratification had begun. In the time of World War I in the year 1918, the suffragists embarrassed the then president, Mr. Woodrow Wilson by reversing the opposition and supporting the amendment to women's suffrage. This resulted in a major shift in the existing political balance and the favourwas shifted to the women's movement. Eventually, this resulted in the winning the political support that ultimately resulted in the ratification process (National Archives, 2022).

Legacy of the movement

The 19th amendment act was passed in the year 1918 and this resulted in authorizing all women to have equal voting rights. This act legally guaranteed women the voting right. This is the year when all the women got access to voting rights. The prospects include the activities and involvement of women in politics as well as social matters in the country. This is associated with the inclusion of various laws taht guarantees the safety and equality of women. Discrimination based on gender is one of the main reasons for women being deprived of rights. The civil rights struggle is another one that can be linked to the suffrage movement (National Archives, 2022). A movement similar to the suffragette's movement is the movement for civil rights. This movement or struggle also aims at removing discrimination against people based on their skin color or race. It ensured that the African-American population has greater economic and social mobility. It also helped in ensuring that women have greater access to resources and enjoy the same rights as their male counterpart does. This act of 1962 also helped in strengthening voting rights enforcement (CRF, 2022). The specific legislation that is related to the suffrage movement is the Act related to the representation of the people in the year 1918.

This resulted in formally allowing the women to enjoy their voting rights and this accounted for the most significant type of political mobilization in the country. The specific actions of the government are the amendment of the constitution from time to time and ensuring equality for women. A famous quote by Susan Anthony demonstrated the value of women in society. The quote says ‘The true republic: men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less. Another famous quote by her states that ‘There shall never be another season of silence until; women have the same rights as men have on this green earth’. Elizabeth Stanton is another famous leader of the suffrage movement for the voting rights of women. Here famous quote states ‘The best protection women can have is courage’. In the present time, the state of play can be evaluated by the fact that women are excelling in every field. This movement has promoted the factor of human welfare. With the help of individual action as well as a group action, both political and social reform was stimulated. Hence, it can be concluded by stating that the 19th amendment meant the success of the women's suffrage movement. Hence, the movement is‘down but not out. It changed the trajectory of the policies for social welfare significantly. After 100 years of this movement, it is clear that gender equality has been successfully achieved. 

Reference list

Atria, (2022), Feminism in the 19th century, Available at: https://institute-genderequality.org/news-publications/feminism/feminism-19th-century/, [Accessed on:15/06/2022]

BBC, (2022), Did the suffragettes win women the vote?Available at:https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/did-the-suffragettes-win-women-the-vote/z7736v4, Accessed on : [15/06/2022].

British Library, (2022), Women's suffrage timeline,Available at: https://www.bl.uk/votes-for-women/articles/womens-suffrage-timeline, [Accessed on :15/06/2022]

CRF, (2022), The Civil Rights Act of 1964,Available at: https://www.crf-usa.org/black-history-month/the-civil-rights-act-of-1964, [Accessed on : 15/06/2022]

JWA, (2022), Pamphlet distributed by the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage,Available at:https://jwa.org/media/pamphlet-distributed-by-national-association-opposed-to-woman-suffrage, [Accessed on : 15/06/2022]

National Archives, (2022), 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote (1920),

Available at: https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/19th-amendment, [Accessed on :15/06/2022]

National Park Service, (2022), Woman's Suffrage History Timeline,Available at:https://www.nps.gov/wori/learn/historyculture/womens-suffrage-history-timeline.htm, [Accessed on : 15/06/2022]

NWHM, (2022), National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage,Available at: http://www.crusadeforthevote.org/naows-opposition#:~:text=Anti%2Dsuffragists%20argued%20that%20most,useful%20opinion%20about%20political%20issues., [Accessed on : 15/06/2022]

Purkayastha, B., 2020. From Suffrage to Substantive Human Rights: The Continuing Journey for Racially Marginalized Women. W. New Eng. L. Rev., 42, p.419.

Stanford News, (2020, August), World War I strengthened women’s suffrage, shifted public attitude, Stanford scholar says,Available at: https://news.stanford.edu/2020/08/12/world-war-strengthened-womens-suffrage/, [Accessed on : 15/06/2022]

Steinson, B.J., 2019. Woman Suffrage and Citizenship in the Midwest, 1870–1920. Agricultural History, 93(2), pp.373-374.

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