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.