Although other historians have viewed the suffrage movement as aimed at exclusively political ends, she argues that such a categorization ignores many of the most compelling reasons why thousands of middle and upper-class women risked ostracism, obloquy, and, often, physical harm in the pursuit of the right to vote and why their efforts met with such intense opposition. The alliance of respectable" middle-class women with prostitutes, the attack on marriage, and the suffragists' distrust of the medical profession are among the topics the author addresses. Drawing on hypotheses advanced by Michel Foucault, she asserts that feminists sought no less than the total transformation of the lives of women.
Originally published in 1987.
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"In this intelligent and thoughtful work, Susan Kingsley Kent contends that the campaign for women's suffrage was not narrowly political but was, rather, the culmination of a unified feminist movement whose chief objective was the abolition of `the double standard of morality, prostitution, and the sexual objectification and abuse of women.' . . . a lively, well-written and clearly argued book."--Deborah Gorham, Modern Europe
"This is a valuable addition to existing work on two counts: it expands our understanding of the nature of the radicalism of first wave feminism, and the interconnectedness of many issues; it reinforces the growing realisation that suffragism was much more than a 'single-issue' campaign resting solely on restricted liberal notions of equality. . . . [The book] offers a stimulating and provocative introduction to the area, and one certain to spark fresh interest and debate."--Sandra Stanley Holton, Gender and History
"[Kent's] starting point is that Christabel Pankhurst's cry, `Votes for Women; Chastity for Men,' is less the manic aberration that historians have assumed than a statement of one motivating theme of the women's movement. Many women detected as a source and prop of their subordination, the sexual double standard. . . . [Kent argues] originally and convincingly [that] `private' and `public' experiences were not distinct but closely interrelated; and many feminists perceived that the public world could not be reshaped without the private changing also."--Pat Thane, Parliamentary History
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