Separate Sphere Ideology and Opposition to Women's Suffrage in the Victorian Era

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The opposition to women's suffrage in the early 20th century stems from a deep rooted social phenomenon in england that took hold in the 19th century. The victorian era gave rise to the system of gender roles and relations that sought to separate the sexes on all fronts of society. This sex class system, also known as the separate sphere ideology, developed from the changing economic scheme, the opinions of great victorian philosophers, and a revival of religious integrity. The separate sphere ideology very popular amongst english society and developed a level of indisputable credibility when publically defended by an emergence of pseudo science discoveries on a woman's capacities. The separate sphere mentality would define the clear roles, duties and responsibilities of men and women in a rigid unforgiving manner. It would shape the english morality, freezing women out of public life and into the cult of domesticity. This perceived gender role and relation system would become the single greatest platform for campaigning anti-suffragists, who lead poplar ‘antis’ movements . The key ‘antis’ arguments discussed developed from a separate sphere ideology outlook, and are as following; biological differences could not allow equal voting rights, changing the gender system would negatively alter woman's life, and women can not physically, socially or mentality navigate the world of politics.

When Queen Alexandrina Victoria took reign of england on june 20th 1837, her country was amidst a class evolution derived from the consequences of industrialization. Early industrialization saw vast exploitation of the lower classes, but by the mid 19th century reforms had improved working conditions. The late industrialization era saw the s...

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... Separate sphere ideology was popular amongst men and women of all social classes, especially the middle class. It was defended by influential scientist of the age, and used a platform for anti-suffragist arguments. The ‘antis’ sought to maintain the social structure that had pulled them out of the dark georgian times, diminished the gap of social classes and kept women and children safe from the turmoils of commerce, government and defense. They saw the suffrage movement as a militant effort to destroy a woman's; femininity, innocence, dutifulness, position and integrity. The anti-suffrage saw the vision of women voting alongside the vision of neglected children and husbands. What they could not imagine is what reality is now for english women of the 21st century, which is that voting rights brought with it pride, freedom, equality, and new world of opportunities.

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