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Showing posts from June, 2016

What's in a name?: Suffragettes and Suffragists

I’ve been asked so often what the difference was between a suffragette and a suffragist that I usually give a brief explanation in my talks to the effect that before 1906 anyone who campaigned for the vote was called a suffragist. After 1906 the term “suffragette” came into being: it was coined by a Daily Mail journalist to describe members of the militant Women’s Social and Political Union founded by Mrs Pankhurst in 1903. So a suffragette was a militant and a suffragist was a non-militant. That the campaigners themselves perceived the distinction is suggested by circumstances such as the militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) renaming their newspaper “ The Suffragette ” (in 1912). Meanwhile, the non-militant National Union Women of Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) proudly displayed a banner at its events proclaiming that they were “law-abiding suffragists”. In reality the situation was more complicated than that. The term “suffragist” continued to be used to mean s