As the women’s suffrage movement gained momentum in the early 20th century, the picture postcard industry was utilised to denigrate women fighting for the vote.
In a feature published in our August 2012 issue, June Purvis, professor of women’s and gender history at the University of Portsmouth and editor of the journal Women’s History Review, explores the stories behinds some of the anti-Suffragette postcards of the time.
You can hear more from June Purvis on this week’s podcast. Visit www.historyextra.com/podcasts for more information.
(All images © June Purvis)
Christabel Pankhurst was regarded by many as the driving force behind the WSPU. Sometimes she would be portrayed as a cuddly teddy bear or, as in this example, a silly goose leading other silly geese in the “Goose’s Social and Political Union”.
From the end of September 1909, forcible feeding was the common practice of dealing with hunger-striking suffragettes who were protesting against the government’s refusal to recognise them as political offenders. Some commercial publishers considered it a suitable subject for a comic postcard, seen here.
Anti-suffrage postcards of the era frequently predicted chaos if women got the vote. In particular, it was feared that the logical outcome of women’s enfranchisement would be women MPs in parliament, upsetting the traditions and order of that male sphere.
Married suffragists did not escape the gaze of the postcard publishers either and were commonly depicted as domineering, nagging wives as in ‘Taking It Out on Hubby’.