Today, friends of Training Center Raya London, we will tell you about a woman of the heart in times of manners quite different from today.
English society in the 19th century was a society of conservative rigidity, of adherence to tradition. Its roles have long been divided and jointly followed. But with the advent of industrialization in the cities, and the ability of women to also participate equally in labor through the power of machines, the differences between the sexes began to be felt more and more clearly. Men could express their biases in the choice of governance of the state, but women could not. Men’s property in a marriage was protected by law, women’s was not.
In the late 19th century, because of this inequality, hearty women in Britain and the United States banded together in various organizations and, through various methods, struggled to achieve one thing- political and economic independence for women in society. One of these women is the famous Emmeline Pankhurst, recognized as one of the figures who permanently changed human history.
Emmeline Pankhurst, with the maiden name Goulden, was born on the 15th of June 1858 into a family of Manchester political activists. At the age of 14, she was introduced to the society of suffragettes. The term suffragette comes from the Latin suffragism, denoting the right of an assembly member to exercise his or her vote. Suffragette was first used in the Daily Mail with a sneering dig, but women activists readily appropriated it and soon changed the meaning the word carried.
Emmeline’s family, though progressive and supportive of women’s rights, paid more attention to their sons’ future, while the girls were expected to marry early and into a wealthy family to avoid manual labor. For Emmeline, who read widely and was inspired by the history of the French Revolution, this was a harsh and unfair fate. One day she even overheard her father expressing his regret that she was not born a boy. After all, it was Emmeline’s mother who took her to a rally for women’s rights. From that meeting and after the speeches she heard at it, she became a shaped suffragette.
When she was 20 years old, Emmeline met and fell in love with her future husband, a 44-year-old lawyer and activist for equal rights, free speech, and educational reform, Richard Pankhurst. The two shared the same ideas and although she suggested they live in a free union to give him a better opportunity to pursue politics, he insisted and in 1879 the two got married at St Luke’s Church in Pendleton. Their home became a center for politically active ‘socialists, protesters, anarchists, suffragettes, freethinkers and humanitarians of all schools’.
In her activities as women’s rights activist, Emmeline, and her supporters realized that they had to fight the already established belief in society that it was enough for men to vote instead of women. They saw the importance of winning voting rights for unmarried women and widows first.
Dear English language learners, we hope you are as persistent as the heroine of our story in your efforts to advance. Read the continuation of Emmeline Pankhurst’s story in our next article!
See you soon!
Author: Iveta Radeva
Image: Corbis via Getty Images/Getty Images