Has anyone read "Suffragette Bombers"?

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,550
Republika Srpska
1560605951333.png

So, I stumbled across this book on goodreads and decided to read it. I finished it in a day because it is not very long. Now, I am not really an expert on British history so I can't say if everything Webb writes is true, but even if a quarter of it is true we can safely consider WSPU a terrorist organization. Seriously, arson, vandalism, bombs, attempted assassinations etc. I really felt bad for Sylvia Pankhurst who was attacked by her mother and sister because she disagreed with their tactics and because she supported democracy. I must admit, when I first saw this book, I fully expected it to be a cringy MRA anti-women book, but it was actually the opposite. The book actually makes the argument that WSPU's militant actions slowed down progress on multiple occassions and that WSPU never cared about working-class women and their needs and rights and instead focused on upper class women (similar to the situation with women's rights activists in Serbia). The book was also written rather well and seems to be backed up by sources.

However, as I said, I'm not an expert, so I am asking: has anyone read this book and what are your opinions on it?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Frank81
Jun 2017
434
maine
we can safely consider WSPU a terrorist organization. Seriously, arson, vandalism, bombs, attempted assassinations etc.
Up front, I have not read the book. However I am extremely interested in any discussion on this: I am coordinating an exhibit on Suffrage here in Maine. The focus of our exhibit is Mabel Connor who is of interest in this discussion because she took the movement here in Maine from Suffragism to Sufferage (her father was ACW general and Maine governor, Selden Connor who--having no sons--concentrated his political and strategical training on his eldest daughter). In all of my research on this movement in Maine, I haven't encountered any of the militancy you cite and I would be very interested to know whether the British and American situations differed so widely or--if they didn't, what have I missed?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Niobe

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,550
Republika Srpska
It is possible that the situation was different, however the WSPU in Britain was not really some widespread movement. It was a small group that lost most of its support by 1914 due to their radical tactics. In fact, even some of Emmeline Pankhurst's closest allies started to turn away from her because she was unwilling to let others express their opinions. Most advocates for women suffrage in Britain were normal people using legal means to achieve so. In fact, the book says that it was the working women that convinced PM Asquith that women needed the right to vote.
 
Jun 2017
434
maine
OK, I've done some online research--enough to make me comfortable with my project. As Maki wrote, the WSPU (active only in Britain) was a fringe element of the women's movement. I read interviews done with now-elderly women who were part of WSPU and they dispute Mr. Webb's allegations but contemporary newspapers don't. NPS writes that the term "suffragette" (although now used to describe activists on both sides of the Atlantic) originally was a derogatory term first used by a British reporter; British women came to embrace the term while American women considered it an insult.

Mr. (Dr.?) Webb is only one of two writers in this field who accuses the women of "terrorism". There is plenty of push-back. I've decided to NOT get the book because it is so rooted in UK and not applicable to what I am doing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Niobe

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,736
Australia
It was the efforts of working class women in the factories, on the farms and in the armed forces during WWI that got women the vote in Britain, not the self indulgent posturing and downright criminal activity of the upper and middle class "suffragettes".
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sindane

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,550
Republika Srpska
In fact there are two different terms to describe advocates for women suffrage. The suffragettes were the radicals while the suffragists who believed in gradual, non-violent tactics.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Niobe and Futurist
Jun 2017
434
maine
It was the efforts of working class women in the factories, on the farms and in the armed forces during WWI that got women the vote in Britain, not the self indulgent posturing and downright criminal activity of the upper and middle class "suffragettes".
It is said that any revolution eats its children. Where it not for the "self indulgent posturing," the movement wouldn't have gone anywhere: working class women didn't have the time or energy to expend. In any case, it was the very exclusion of working class women that motivated WSPU.

Here in Maine, it was the unstinting efforts of middle and upper income women--frequently aided by their husbands--that raised the movement into the awareness of the middle and upper income men who dominated government. The it was the strong, genuine assistance of factory women and farm wives that carried suffrage into law (1919 in Maine, 1920 nationally).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Niobe
Jun 2017
434
maine
The WSPU never wanted to give the vote to working class women.
I've been doing research, remember? If that is what the book said, it is misleading--and there's one mark against it. WSPU was founded in Manchester and its membership was largely working class women. Very active in WSPU was Annie Kenney (who worked in a mill and who was often found acting in concert with Emmeline Pankhurst) and Hannah Mitchell (later known for activities as a socialist activist). Some sources: Labor History (5/1997): "Working Class Women and Women's Suffrage" by R.S. Neale; Working Class suffragette: the Life of Annie Kenney by C.M Talbot; New Statesman (6 February 2018), "Let's not forget the working class suffragettes".

If the book is so misleading on this point, there may be others: I'd get out that big Grain of Salt on this one.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,550
Republika Srpska
Why did Ada Nield Chew then criticize the WSPU in 1904 by saying that "the entire class of wealthy women would be enfranchised, that the great body of working women, married or single, would be voteless still"? Why did WSPU fall out with the Independent Labour Party over universal suffrage?