October 10, 1911, to The Editor of The Daily Chronicle
A brief and trenchant rebuttal to an “anti” whose argument against woman suffrage reveals
class anxiety typical of the time. Woman suffrage was seen as the opening of universal
suffrage, a vote for every man and woman would mean a change in politics and likely
in government. Davison deploys dates and numbers to demonstrate the illogic of her
“opponent’s” argument, and to lay bare its roots. The second paragraph of this short letter is
a succinct, pithy analogy. Davison wrote before the feminist movement of the mid-twentieth
century would render the use of masculine pronouns in such an analogy “sexist.”
Among your correspondence to-day you publish a letter from “A Woman of
Property,” who writes against woman suffrage. This lady brings up the favourite anti-
Suffragist red herring that votes for a million women mean votes for all women and all
men. But on what possible grounds of logic do anti-Suffragists base this contention? Votes
given to one million working men in 1867, and votes to another two million in 1884, have
not yet led to votes for all working men. Adult suffrage is only as yet an academic question.
The only basis on which anti-Suffragists could make such a contention would be that they
thought a million women were cleverer than 7 ½ million men voters.
Your correspondent also asserts that women do get value for paying taxes, in
protection and other ways. May I put the case in a parable? Women’s position in this
matter is analogous to that of a person who, instead of being free to buy what he wants
where and when he likes, is forced to buy in one shop only, even though neither the price,
the service, nor the goods satisfy him. But of course, he who pays the piper is in his rights
to call the tune.
EMILY WILDING DAVISON
31, Coram-street, W.C., Oct. 9