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The Great War
Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Timeline Maps & Battles The Shaping of the 21st Century Historians
Historians OverviewDiane Atkinson

Women and the Vote in Britain
Diane Atkinson
"It sounds bizarre but there was a view that women shouldn't have the vote for all sorts of reasons.

"I'll just give you a few examples: one of them being that a woman's brain was smaller than a man's brain, therefore she couldn't possibly make this political choice when it came to an election; that it was just not within her intellectual capacity to make that kind of a choice.

"They said that women were so governed by their physiology – by their child-bearing, by menstruation, by childbirth, and menopause – that they were often unhinged, temporarily, throughout their life on a fairly regular basis and, therefore, they could not possibly make a reasoned judgment if it came to an election, were they a voting member of Parliament.

"There was a view that if women got involved in politics, they would stop getting married.

"They would stop having children and that the human race would die out. And this was called the Race Suicide Argument. This sounds ludicrous to us, but this was something that even the most intelligent people believed very firmly. There was also a view that the British Empire would be under enormous threat, because they were very worried that the colonies would look to the mother country and think: 'This is outrageous.' And that they would lose respect for the Empire, they would lose respect for Britain, and that the colonies would rise up and rebel, and the Empire would be on its knees."

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