The double-standard of equal rights

John Stuart Mill, a noted supporter of equal rights, was elected to Parliament in 1865. His early efforts to campaign for female suffrage were soundly defeated by an all-male, Conservative government. In 1879, Richard Pankhurst authored and launched the 'Women's disabilities removals bill' seeking the vote for women.

In this same year, Richard married Emmeline Pankhurst who became one of the most famous of the infamous suffragettes. While Richard Pankhurst died in 1898, Emmeline continued in the campaign – often militantly – for voting rights for women.

In 1914, she 'suspended' her fight for women's right to vote and turned her energetic attentions and those of other suffragettes to promoting conscription. In an effort to ensure the enlistment of all eligible men, Pankhurst and her supporters distributed white feathers, an unequivocal symbol of cowardice at the time, to men in civilian clothes. In the film 'The Four Feathers', Harry Faversham, played by Heath Ledger, receives feathers from three colleagues plus another from his fiancée for his apparent cowardice.

Yes, Emmeline fought hard for women's rights to be equal to those of men in voting. And then applied the same vigor to bullying and shaming men into going to war in the defense of she and her fair sisters. As Rudyard Kipling says in his poem, Tommy,

It's Tommy this and Tommy that
and chuck him out the brute
But its saviour of his country
when the guns begin to shoot
The war ended in 1918, and while many women wept for men not returning from the war, some women returned to their efforts for universal franchise. In 1918, headway was made in gaining some voting rights for women with property.

It was not until 2 July 1928 that women in the UK gained voting rights equal to men.

Emmeline Pankhurst missed the event having died just three weeks earlier.

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