The changing role and status of women in Britain since 1990 - History Essay Example

This source can be useful for a number of different reasons, but what we want to know is what were the attitudes to suffragettes in 1908, and how did their demonstrations gain them the vote? - The changing role and status of women in Britain since 1990 introduction?? Did they use violence or peaceful methods to gain women’s suffrage? And how did these methods portray their own attitudes to women’s suffrage?

This source is a photograph taken of a suffragette’s demonstration led by Mrs Emmeline Panhkhurst in London in 1908. It does not look as though it was taken for a specific reason, other than to capture a moment of history and record an event that could lead to something more important. Because of this fact, I do not think that there is a particular reason for this source to be biased in anyway, so this should be quite a reliable source in relation to the reason of existing.

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The intended audience for this source was the public if the photo was to be used in a newspaper or some other means of public advertising, this shows that it was meant for a broad audience, both men and women. But as it is not biased, it shows an honest account of what happened at the suffragette demonstration and this means that this source is not targeting a specific audience.

The photograph was taken at the time of the even, whilst it was happening which means that it is reliable and because also it is a photograph, it means that what was happening must be true, it cannot be a lie because the camera does not lie.

There are many different actions and events happening in this source. The photograph shows a quite peaceful, organised protest-taking place along the streets of London with no hint of violence, yet to our knowledge of history, suffragettes have been portrayed, as violent unladylike women would cause as much violence as they could possibly could in a wild attempt to gain the vote. This source contradicts that textbook image of suffragettes behaving in an unimaginable manner because it shows middle class ladies acting civilly and peacefully in this protest, and because this source is an honest source, it shows that it is quite reliable.

Also in the photograph, there are not only women in the crowd, but there are some men too. All the people in the photograph are looking in one direction, as though some person must be giving a speech or addressing the crowd. Even though this is a suffragette protest, there are some men taking part in the demonstration, as they are part of the crowd. This could suggest that these men are supportive of the suffragette movement and the right of women to gain the public vote. Or they may just be curious as to what the women are doing and want to find out what is happening. This shows that although this demonstration was originally about women and their right to women’s suffrage, it must have been so interesting and compelling that it attracted the attention and maybe even the support of some of the men in the crowd.

There is a policeman just to the right of the photograph; this could be to stop the protest from becoming violent or indeed to calm the protest down if it did turn violent. There could be many more policemen attending the protest to make sure that it did not become violent and stayed peaceful, yet there is only one policeman in the photograph. Yet although there is a policeman there, it does not look, as though the protest will turn violent because of the ways the women in the photograph are acting. They are all dressed in posh, beautiful dresses and also most of them have sashes on. This shows that they are organised. Even their facial expressions are rather pleasant, they do not look as though they want to start any trouble. The policeman could be there just to secure the chance that no violence will occur.

The other sources do not agree with the photograph either because Source B is an extract from a speech made by Christine Pankhurst, a relation of Emmeline Pankhurst, stating that the only methods the suffragettes should use to obtain women’s suffrage is to use violence. This source contradicts Source A, yet it make the background knowledge about suffragettes true and supports the point of view of historians that suffragettes believed in using violent means to gain power.

Also this source contradicts the idea that suffragettes used only violent methods to gain the vote, history tells that suffragist believed in using peaceful methods and found that ‘suffragette methods’ were counter productive and cause more harm than they did good. But this source shows that the suffragettes were peaceful and did not use only violent methods.

Although the majority of points show that this source is quite reliable, does it answer the question that we asked at the beginning? What does this source show about people’s attitudes to this demonstration? This source shows that although most men believed that women should not be able to vote and should not be a part of parliament, there were a few who supported their views and also joined in with the crowd of the demonstration. It also shows that women themselves must have wanted the vote because they were acting peacefully and calmly at the demonstration and also there were quite a lot of women there supporting the suffragette movement. The source is not very useful as it does not show us a broad range of attitudes towards suffragettes, but what it dos show is true and reliable.

Although this source is quite reliable and tells us about some attitudes towards suffragettes, it leaves some further questions in the historians mind for example, what happened after the photograph was taken, did the protest suddenly become violent? Or what was the majority of people’s view towards suffragettes? How did people react to female demonstrations in the early 1900’s because they were not very common and very rare?

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