These 20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women’s Rights Are Shocking

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Equal rights for women from all different walks of life are still a grave issue that’s widely debated and fought for across the globe. During the suffragette movement in the early 20th century, a great deal of propaganda was flung onto the British public through various imagery in an effort to stop women from campaigning for many crucial rights taken for granted by men, including the ability to vote. This collection of shocking postcards comes from the archive of Catherine H. Palczewski, a professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Northern Iowa who has spent over 15 years collecting them. It can’t be denied that these 20th century propaganda postcards against women’s rights are shocking.

British suffragettes were mostly women from upper and middle-class backgrounds who were frustrated by the social and economic situations they were experiencing…

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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Their struggles for change within society spearheaded a movement that would encompass mass groups of women fighting for suffrage.

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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The term “suffragette” was first used as a derogatory one by the journalist Charles E. Hands in the Daily Mail to describe activists in the movement for women’s suffrage…

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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This backfired though, as the women he ridiculed embraced the term saying “suffragettes”. It implied not only that they wanted the vote, but that they intended to get it.

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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1912 was a turning point for the British suffragettes as they begun to use more militant tactics. They chained themselves to railings, set fire to post boxes, smashed windows and occasionally detonated bombs.

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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One suffragette, Emily Davison, died under the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby of 4 June 1913. It’s debated whether she was trying to pin a “Votes for Women” banner on the horse or not.

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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Many of her fellow suffragettes were also imprisoned and went on a hunger strike in order to rebel against the government.

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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Before the First World War, one thousand suffragettes were imprisoned in Britain. The first suffragettes to be imprisoned were Christabel Pankhurst (daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst) and Annie Kenney on October, 1905.

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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Suffragettes were refused the right to be recognised as political prisoners and many of them staged hunger strikes while imprisoned. The first woman to refuse food was Marion Wallace Dunlop, sentenced to a month in Holloway for vandalism in July 1909.

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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After public backlash regarding the prison status of suffragettes, the rules of the divisions were changed. From March 1910, prisoners in Second and Third Divisions to be allowed certain privileges, effectively ending hunger strikes for two years.

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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When the First World War begun, the suffragette movement in Britain moved away from suffrage activities and focused their efforts on the war effort, and as a result, hunger strikes largely stopped.

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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In August 1914, the British Government released all prisoners who had been incarcerated for suffrage activities on an amnesty, with Pankhurst ending all militant suffrage activities soon after and the public attitude towards the movement shifting positively.

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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In November 1918, the Qualification of Women Act 1918 was passed, allowing women to be elected into parliament. The Representation of the People Act 1928 extended the voting franchise to all women over the age of 21, granting women the vote on the same terms that men had gained ten years earlier.

20th Century Propaganda Postcards Against Women's Rights Are Shocking
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