There are many things to learn about the reasons the Suffragettes gave for demanding votes for women, and why they felt that they should have the right to vote. They used many means to get what they wanted, including posters such as Source A. Source A, a Suffragette poster produced in 1912, is making the point that a woman can be very successful in a wide range of areas and ‘yet not have the vote’, and that a man can be a failure in many ways, and yet not ‘lose the vote’. The women in the poster have jobs such as Mayor, doctor and nurse, which are all prestigious and respectable jobs.
Below them are men who are drunkards, convicted criminals, and lunatics. It is meant to point out the injustice in the voting law, and show that it makes no sense. For example, women could be Mayor at this time (1912). Being Mayor meant, and means, making decisions about the area you are major of, having good communication skills, and being prepared for the impact you are having on society. They would also have to take responsibility for their actions. These skills would, many would have agreed, made Mayors, female or male, suitably qualified to vote.
Likewise, a nurse or doctor would have to be caring, intelligent, have good judgement and the ability to make correct decisions. A mother would also have to be caring, as well as patient and thoughtful yet strict. A factory hand would have to work hard, handle her finances well, as her wages would have been low, and work well with others. All of these characteristics make for a suitable voter, which was the message the Suffragettes were trying to get across. However, it was not easy for women to get into positions of power. Lady Sandhurst stood in the London County Council elections and was elected for Brixton.
Her opponent objected to this on the grounds that she was a woman, but was overruled by the Returning Officer who oversaw the election. The case went to court and the judge decided that she could not take up her position, and, despite there being no law against the election of women, her appeal failed. The poster also shows certain types of men, all unfavourably. The convict pictured would have brought to mind a man without morals, who is capable of deceiving and lying and is out for himself. This would not have made the law look very fair or right, if it allowed convicts yet not women to vote.
Likewise a proprietor of white slaves would need to be ruthless, cold and cruel-not qualities that one would look for in a voter. A proprietor of white slaves is not likely to consider anyone else when voting, but just himself and what he can get from the government. This may mean exploiting even more people; this would mean, for many, that he did not deserve the vote. The picture of the lunatic would have implied the lunacy of the law, that a person with no sense, who may not be able dress himself or hold down a job, never mind make decisions which affected the whole country, still had the vote.
Similarly, that the running of the country should be left to a drunkard without self-discipline, control or respectability and without inhibitions should be allowed the vote would have seemed ridiculous. Those unfit for service being allowed to have the vote may also have been looked upon with disdain, as a man who cannot defend his country and so should have no say in the running of it. The poster is designed by the Suffragettes, to highlight their point of view and encourage others to hold the same. The method is peaceful, as it is not illegal and does not, physically, harm anyone.
However, it could be viewed as rude or offensive, if not openly violent; as it may have been seen as making men appear disrespectable or inferior. This is because it shows what were seen as the ‘worst kind’ of men, and the men are at the bottom of the poster; as if to imply that they are of a lower class or standing. Overall we can learn many things from source A about the reasons the Suffragettes gave for demanding votes for women. The main message they were trying to get across was that the law was unjustified in giving all men the vote no matter what their situation, and yet not allowing a woman of any kind the vote.