LLE817825 Held in Bondage (colour litho) by English School, (20th century); Private Collection; (add.info.: Held in Bondag. Anti-suffragette postcard.); © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection; English,  it is possible that some works by this artist may be protected by third party rights in some territories

Vintage Anti-Suffrage Postcards

Suffragette, the first feature film to tell the story of women’s fight for the vote, will kick off this year’s London film festival (LFF) on 7 October.

Not all women wanted the vote. Queen Victoria had referred to women’s suffrage as ‘wicked folly’ and in 1908 Mrs Humphrey Ward went so far as to form the National Anti-Suffrage League.

Many subscribed to the belief that while the masculine public sphere is for men, the feminine domestic sphere is for women. Forcing women into a public, political role would detract from their femininity or, as William Gladstone put it, “trespass upon their delicacy, their purity, their refinement, the elevation of their whole nature”. The traditional male elite ultimately wanted to remain in control of making all the important business and political decisions.

Humour was a much-used weapon against suffragettes during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

See a selection of anti-suffrage postcards from the Bridgeman archive. The clear message is that giving women the right to vote threatens men, the family, and the entire natural order of things.

Left: Mummy's a Suffragette (colour litho), English School, (20th century) / Private Collection / © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection Right: A Happy New Year to a New Woman (colour litho), English School, (20th century) / Private Collection / © Look and Learn / Elgar Collectio
Left: Mummy’s a Suffragette (colour litho), English School / © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection
Right: A Happy New Year to a New Woman (colour litho) © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection

In anti-suffrage postcards, babies were usually crying for their absent mothers

When Women Vote (colour litho), English School, (20th century) / Private Collection / © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection
When Women Vote (colour litho), English School © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection

Suffragettes were frequently portrayed as embittered old maids

Standing Up for Women's Rights (colour litho), English School, (20th century) / Private Collection / © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection
Standing Up for Women’s Rights (colour litho) © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection

In some postcards the Suffragettes are depicted as attractive, but scandalously sexually available

Left: When We Have Lady Parsons (colour litho), English School, (20th century) / Private Collection / © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection Right:     When We Have Lady Tailors (colour litho), English School, (20th century) / Private Collection / © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection / Bridgeman Images
Left: When We Have Lady Parsons (colour litho), English © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection
Right: When We Have Lady Tailors (colour litho)© Look and Learn / Elgar Collection

Images & Licensing

Please contact the Bridgeman team for further enquires regarding licensing images and clips.

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