Women's Suffrage in New Zealand

By Patricia Grimshaw | Go to book overview

The principal stimulus appears to be the movements for racial equality in the United States, but other factors are important. Changing ideas on abortion, improved means of birth control, concern for smaller families in an over-populated world, and the experiments of young people in the development of communal living will all affect women's role in the next few decades. The feminist movement may well be poised on the verge of yet another move forward. Perhaps this time its wider objective, the full acceptance of women as equals of men, will be achieved.


Afterword (1987)

The feminist movement which emerged in the early 1970s did indeed grow swiftly into an energetic and forceful campaign for women's rights, one which was conducted in a style and with goals which would have astonished many 'first-wave' feminists, as the earlier campaigners were now described. The mild, if nevertheless influential suggestion of Betty Friedan, that women who suffered from 'the feminine mystique' should reject the exclusively domestic realm, and combine family responsibilities with work in the public arena, was soon superseded by angrier voices. Germaine Greer, Kate Millett, and Shulamith Firestone21 shifted the debate in a radical direction. They agreed with Friedan that the successes of nineteenth-century feminism had been negated by a conservative 'counter-revolution' in the inter-war years, and that the range of personal attributes identified as female were designed to contain women within subordinate, indeed oppressive, roles. Antagonism to a system of male domination, or 'patriarchy', the challenge to male modes of personality and behaviour, and above all a sharp rejection of the institution of family life, now seen as the principle site of women's oppression, characterized this new group of feminists.

Everywhere in the industrialized West these new expressions of anger found a sympathetic response. In New Zealand, as elsewhere, a variety of indigenous women's groups arose to interpret the new feminism for their own society. The Women's Electoral Lobby, intent on bringing direct pressure on politicians for legal changes assisting women, such as employment opportunities, childcare, contraception, and abortion, attracted particularly middle-class professional women and housewives. The Women's Liberation Movement was more anarchic in character, avoiding hierarchical structures and adopting more

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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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