Suffragettes

One tends to think that the feminist focus on already well-off females getting paid as much as their already well-off male colleagues (while ignoring the overall societal inequality) is comparatively new. It was with some surprise that I read, in TM Devine’s The Scottish Nation: A Modern History, that Helen Crawford, a prominent Scottish suffragette, had herself remarked about the movement at the beginning of the 20th century, “The women who became most prominent in the WSPU were middle-class women to whom the best paid professions were closed because of their sex”.

One likewise tends to think that first came universal male franchise, followed by gradually widening female one. Here again I was disabused by the book, learning that while single women and widows could already vote in local elections in 1882, as late as 1911 only slightly more than a half of Glasgow males had been enfranchised, giving grounds for fears that “to give the vote to women from the propertied classes would both strengthen the electoral advantage of the Conservative Party and […] do nothing for the majority of women in the country who belonged to the working classes”.

Ecclesiastes was right again. Nihil sub sole novum.

 

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