Saturday, 10 November 2012

Lord Curzon's 15 Good Reasons Against the Grant of Female Suffrage

I regard women as superior and I don’t like to see them trying to become men’s equal.
Violet Markham, speaking in October 1910.

I am satisfied with my present position, and of my almost unlimited power of usefulness, that I have no need of a vote, and should not use it if I had it. 
Edith Milner, writing in The Times, 29 October 1906.

I frown hearing the suffragettes invoked by feminists who complain that there are not enough women in political life, as if as many women want to have political, or any, careers as men.

People increasingly talk about the Suffragettes as if they were admirable when they were nothing of the sort. Their extra-legal activity set back the cause of giving the vote to women by years. Women were eventually given the vote by the Conservatives as a reward for their contribution to the war effort in the Great War.

Giving the vote to women led to a great accession of strength for the right, as the liberals in Europe always knew it would. Had women not had the vote Labour would have won every British election from 1945 to 1979 inclusive. I do not have more recent figures. From a conservative point of view, giving women the vote, in the language of Sellars and Yeatman, was a Good Thing.

Most British women did not want the vote until they were given it, including plenty of feminists. 'Lord Curzon's 15 Good Reasons Against the Grant of Female Suffrage' are here and here. I wish I could find online his speeches to the Women's Anti-Suffrage League of which Mrs. Humphrey Ward, the novelist, was the president. I know he said this when he addressed the League:

What is the good of talking about the equality of the sexes?   The first whiz of the bullet, the first boom of the cannon and where is the equality of the sexes then?

It was a more innocent era and one for which one sometimes pines, now that the House of Commons has family-friendly hours that allow the Government to pass what bills it pleases. 

As for women bishops...


  1. "has family-friendly hours that allow the Government to pass what bills it pleases" - isn't that what the government is for?

  2. Possibly, but it's not what the House of Commons is for.