Women's Suffrage in New Zealand

By Patricia Grimshaw | Go to book overview

12
Post Mortem on the Suffrage

Henceforth small boys shall wear their clothes without a spot or stain, And those who pull their buttons off shall sew them on again. Then, at the age of 25, each solvent, single male, Shall make a solemn choice between the altar and the jail.

Anon., A Tale of '93. Christchurch, 1893.

Alas! a millenium is ever in the future. Sir Robert Stout on the effects of women's suffrage, 1907.

THE novelty of the women's suffrage, and in particular the fact that its passage in New Zealand was so much in advance of other countries, meant that for a few decades after 1893 prominent citizens were frequently asked to express their opinions on the changes it had worked in New Zealand. It was natural, too, that those who had feared or hoped so much from the women's vote would have closely watched its consequences, and in many instances reported their findings.

At first what had not happened, both for the good and the bad, struck people. All those adverse effects which had so constantly been prophesied had simply not eventuated. There was no startling political revolution. When Mrs Sheppard was preparing a paper for an English suffrage meeting, she questioned many New Zealand public figures on their opinions of the workings of the suffrage. Of the control of women by the Church, the Hon. George Fowlds wrote, 'I have never heard of a single complaint regarding priestly or clerical control of our women voters.'1 Far from believing that women had been insulted or degraded by voting at the polls, Sir Joseph Ward reported that 'The old evil of "election day", the ribaldry, the fighting have been succeeded by a decorous gravity befitting people exercising their highest national privilege.'2 Of the old fears of the vote and domestic discord, a Christ- church editor said, 'I have seen no instance of ill-feeling between the sexes, owing to the exercise of the vote.'3The 'unsexing' of women,

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Women's Suffrage in New Zealand
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Preface to the 1987 Edition vi
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction xi
  • I- The New Woman 1
  • 2- Early Parliaments and Women's Rights 12
  • 3- Women and the Temperance Movement 21
  • 4- The Women's Christian Temperance Union 27
  • 5- The Suffrage Movement Gathers Way 36
  • 6- The Movement in Full Swing 46
  • 7- The Politicians' Dilemma 60
  • 8- The Debate on Women's Suffrage 74
  • 9- Success 86
  • 10- The First Election 96
  • II- Liberals, Teetotallers, or Feminists? 108
  • 12- Post Mortem on the Suffrage 119
  • Afterword (1987) 123
  • References 127
  • Bibliography 143
  • Index 150
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