Men who helped women's emancipation


John Bagguley addressed the Female Reformers of Stockport from Chester Castle in June of 1819. He said that 'the female part of the creation have too long been kept in a kind of slavish inferiority by their tyrannic lords', valued only as 'daughters of desire' for their 'natural softness'. He said: 'let us see female Newtons, and female Locks, and female Hampdens', concluding carefully that 'the inequality of the sexes ought to subside'. At a Peterloo anniversary dinner in Manchester in 1821, 'a spontaneous toast intervened which caused much delay: "The Female Reformers and the Rights of Women"'.

1809-30. Philosopher Jeremy Bentham argued against women being in 'a state of perpetual wardship'. He called men's treatment of women 'an abuse of power' and 'tyranny taking advantage of its own wrong', by which he meant that men forced women into a weak, powerless, inferior condition and then appointed themselves to rule over them because they were weak, powerless and inferior. He believed that women were not intellectually inferior to men, but that men made them so by not educating them. He stated (in 1815) 'the minds of all women are castrated [by men]'.

1835, Samuel Bailey, in the Rationale of Political Representation, advocated equal rights.

1825 William Thompson and Anna Wheeler published An Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political, and Thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery.

1849 William Acton showed that far from being evil temptresses, prostitutes were driven to their work by poverty

1854 George Drysdale denied that women were sexless.

1860s Francis W. Newman wrote and spoke in favour of women's rights.

1870s: Sir Albert Rollit; Duncan McLaren; Rev Charles Kingsley; MR Shaen, solicitor, Mr Thomas Chisholm Anstey, Sindey Smith, Henry Fawcett MP, Jacob Bright MP, Professor David Masson, Dr Lyon Playfair

In 1912 Mr W. L. George wrote in his book "Woman and Tomorrow": 'When we have established woman in the world, levelled her wages with those of men, conquered minimum wages for all, raised the school age and created an educational system, the status of woman in man's eyes will have been so revolutionised that he will not so readily make of her a toy, and he will not find it easy to do so.'


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All pages © Helena Wojtczak 2009. Corrections and additions are warmly welcomed. Email me