Feminism's Greatest Achievements

There are probably as many definitions of the term feminism as there are feminists. The biggest triumph of feminism was made possible by the backing of men in the United Kingdom. Feminism, or more specifically a feminist movement, refers to a series of political campaigns for reforms on issues such as women's domestic violence, reproductive rights, women's suffrage, equal pay, maternity leave, sexual harassment, and sexual violence, all of which fall under the umbrella of feminism (Felber 164).Feminisms priorities vary across the globe and communities at large. In the nineteenth century, women and the feminists group formed many movements that were meant to liberate women from the private sphere of confining themselves to home chores to take an active role in public life. Ever since the beginning of the century, men had forbidden women to enter into areas which were deemed to be unfeminine. These restrictions on the spheres of life made women look for ways to overcome and change the defined role for the feminine population. Women, therefore, found out that the only route for them to achieve their social position in all areas of public spheres was through the formation of movements with supports from men so that to spearhead the acknowledgement of their problems. Women organize an armed movement to invade the spheres that men have since forbidden them to explore.

The change in domesticity to public life was a sign of feminist challenging the Victorian ideas about the place where a woman should be in the society, both implicitly and explicitly. In early nineteenth century, women decided to involve themselves in political activities and social reforms campaigns and took parts in movements which had a major focus on women oppression as a sex and sought to challenge inequalities in all sectors of their lives (Lewis 139). The decision by women to form movements to fight injustices against them contributed greatly to feminism achievement in the Great Britain and across the world. This paper seeks to examine the feminism greatest achievement and how men contributed to this achievement. The paper will explore the political sphere for men and women and how feminism achievements were made in Britain. The paper will also look at the mechanisms used by the feminist groups to fight for suffrage and the extent to which men supported them.

The History of Feminisms

The history of feminist or rather feminism is a sequential storyline of the women movements and principles directed to equal rights for women. Feminists across the globe have different causes, intentions, and goals depending on culture, time and country (Lewis 139). Feminism in the Great Britain seek out to establish economic, social and political equality for women. The history of feminism in the Great Britain dates back to the early century when feminism began (Felber 114).

In around 1890’s, feminists in the Great Britain reacted to cultural inequities that oppressed women including the acceptance of the Victorian ideas of women’s role and sphere. The Victorian image created a class of separate roles for women and men which were very well explained in the theory, although not always in reality. In the Victorian ideals, men were supposed to occupy the public sector which includes waged labor and politics and on the other hands, women space was to take care of household chores and children. The feminine image was well typified in the Victorian conduct books that include, books by Sarah Stickney Elli’s book the angel in the house, Coventry Patmore’s, Mrs. Beeton’s Book on Household Management, and the books by Maria del Pilar Sinues de Marco, contained information that symbolizes the Victorian feminine image (Barker and Gale 178). Scholars such as Jane Austen, Anne Bronte, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Jane Austen addressed the restricted lives of women in the early century and also depicted in their works the misery and frustration that women underwent throughout the centuries (Mews 47).

In the beginning of the nineteenth century, the rebellious feminist voices had little influence. But toward the mid the 19th century, there was little sign of transformation in the social or political order, nor any substantiation of a familiar women’s movement. Towards the close of the century, a collective concern started to come together, paralleling the materialization of a solid social model and code of conduct that Reid Marion explained as repressive and confining for women (Lewis 144). Although the degree of stress on female virtue somewhat upsurge the need for a woman’s movement, the fears that this role caused for women overwhelmed numerous early 19th century feminists with worry and doubt and amplified conflicting views.

Women’s Movement

To break the historical placement of gender roles, the feminist who were both men and women collaborated to fight against injustice by ensuring that women were involved in political and other public life activities apart from being restricted to the household chores. Since the onset of the 19th century to the start of the World War II in 1945, women extensively engaged themselves to social and political reform campaigns movements which were aimed at alleviating their own oppression as a sex and wanted to challenge the injustices in all sectors of lives. Albeit the Victorian image of private spheres for women, a good number of men advocated a change of culture that restricted women from public life participations. The advocacy by men gave the women an opportunity to partake an active role in public life. Their participations challenged the Victorian ideal concerning the women place in the society. In the beginning of the 19th century, philanthropy presented the middle-class women with a suitable ground for public jobs. As if that was not enough, women took part in an array of political and social reforms movements, entailing franchise reform unions, anti-slavery societies, and anti-corn law league (Midgley 132). The women in the employment sector encouraged women to join them in industrial disputes. Owenite socialist movement, protests over high prices of food, franchise reforms unions and the imposition of the new poor law. Oppression of women by men contributed to an extensive role in Chartism, the earliest example of a political movement started and continued by working class population relying on their own capital (Midgley 133).

The feminist population tried to play a subordinate role in feminism campaigns. With the help of working class men and women, the feminist were able to come together in different groups to raise their specific needs. The middle-class women worked from behind the panoramas, they organized their meetings in each other’s home to listen to speakers and holding fundraising events, but the majority of them were reluctant to take part in public meetings and as a result, they were not involved in policy making. However, the role of the working class women was more notable and well recognized publicly especially in Chartism (Barker and Gale 167). However, with the exclusion of the Owenite Socialism, which was only one of its kinds in addressing oppression against women, the women in the working class bracket justified their political actions with reference to their roles as mothers and wives to men in the employment sector, and their urge to defend the welfare of their families. The partaking of women in political movements was entirely linked to their participation as workers and as well as members of noble families (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 248). Women who shared the same experience from manufacturing communities were drawn into the movement to demonstrate against oppression.

Men and the Suffrage Movement

Suffrage movement is a piece of the overall women right movement in the onset of the nineteenth century in Britain (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 241). The movement was formed to fight for the right of a woman to vote and vie for public office and the right to participate in any work that masculine gender could perform. The campaign for the movement was a directly tied sex war between women and men (Drifte 138). Together with the feminist movement and the women’s suffrage, the female gender was rebelling against the historical inequality exercised by the male sex totalitarianism in the British community. No longer ready to be defined by their sex, the women yearned to liberate the British community of the separate specialty ideology, that is, private versus public spheres which contributed to their helplessness in both spheres. Men assisted women to commit their energy to the cause of getting the right to participate in voting on matters of significance to their country, regardless of direct repercussions, mistreatment, ridicule and societal contempt at the hands of the male sex who wanted to contain them. In so doing, the female sex concurrently wanted to unchain them from the culture that imposed sexual identity to its people. In the mid of the nineteenth century, several countries in Britain and the United States formed several bodies to fight for suffrage. In around 1888, the men and the international rights organization helped in the formation of the international council of women, but the movement was a bit hesitant in dealing with suffrage. As a result, the British women’s right activist Fawcett Millicent and other women activists formed the international woman suffrage alliance in 1904 (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 247).

The Success of Suffrage in Great Britain

Men play a paramount role in liberations of women by ensuring that all native population within the country has a right to vote. New Zealand a British colony was the first country to grant women voting rights by passing the electoral bill in 1893 where women and men stood together and supported the course (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 247). Also, South Australia the British colony granted women with full suffrage in 1894, giving a woman the freedom to stand for parliament and the right to vote. After the Australian federation in 1901, men supported the formation of a wide women’s suffrage which came to effect in 1902 (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 249). Nonetheless, women of Australia’s native populations were categorically barred until 1949 when voting rights in national elections were approved to all native people. Other remaining restrictions were brought to an end in 1962 in Australia.

Soon after New Zealand suffrage, other countries such as Britain, Sweden, some United States and Finland with limited voting rights granted to women followed towards the end of the nineteenth century. Men also contributed the greater part of the feminism achievement in the beginning of the World War I in 1914. Because the success of the suffrage was the of both women and men, the suffrage organizations shifted their focus efforts to support the war (Drifte 144). As a result of shortages in manpower in the warring nations, the roles traditionally held by men were taken by women and this changed the prevailing notion of what a woman was able of doing, intensifying further force to the suffrage movement. In 1918, the eligibility of women act which permitted to contest and be voted to parliament was passed by the British Parliament (Drifte 143). After ten years, the Representation of People Act gave women the right to participate in the voting process. This path for women’s right to vote was adopted by many other countries in the western region by 1920.

The Women’s Role

Feminism achievements are a combine effort of both men and women. The role of women was merely to seek full support from men so as to get rid of the oppression that all women undergo in their country. The feminist had to tackle the long-held beliefs about their roles in the society to attain their dream of justice. According to history, men and women have separate scopes of influence. The roles of men were particularly as the head of the household and outside their home (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 245). The women in the middle class were solely restricted within the homestead and paying attention to the family unit. Those who worked outside of their homes were normally youthful, not married and employed as factory workers or domestic help while the few educated ones worked as librarians, teachers and nurses (Lewis 116).

Throughout the progressive period, women’s movements assisted in inflating middle-class women's roles outside of the home. Primarily concentrated on literacy and education, the women movements started working to reduce social problems (Lewis 116). Women were major contributors in the push for prohibition, regulations of the food and industry, lobbying for better housing standards and government inspections of factories.

The movements supported laws concerning children and women, such as public support for mothers with needy children and a minimum wage law for children and women. A number of middle-class women were supported by working class men joined workers to push for laws protecting employees. They held meetings, joined labor unions, protested and contributed funds to sustain their causes. The women’s activism in the nineteenth century was the doorway for women to enter into public life. Women began to take part in the civic matters and this challenged the notion of separate roles for women and men (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 245). When men supported women’s movements, majority of women started to address social issues affecting them and the society in general and to them, the idea to vote seemed natural and they believed that they should be able to participate in voting. Most suffrage supporters emphasized that if women were allowed to vote, they would convey arrange of ethical boost up to the nation (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 246).

Men Support for Suffrage

The right for a woman to vote and take part in decision-making in the public offices was barely the effort of feminisms movements. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, hardly four western countries allowed full suffrage for women (Felber 132). Despite the achievement for the women’s suffrage, the plea for this privilege took so long to be achieved due to so many controversial political problems with evident opposition from anti-feminism and the anti-suffrage organizations. Petitions and newspapers were formed to stop women from gaining suffrage. Also, women in the upper class opposed the need for women suffrage as they deemed that the women were crossing on to the men’s territory. The people who were against suffrage movement claimed that giving women opportunity to vote was going against the natural order of the social order, they allied the suffrage movement with compromised ethics, even resulting in divorce and children neglect. But the suffragists never tied up in fighting for their rights, they lobbied political favors from men in power to ensure that all their problems have been heard and resolved. To achieve the suffrage, the suffragists employed the use of modern publicity tactics employed by women which entail newspaper advertisements, banners, catchy slogans, parades, posters and playing cards, to promote the suffrage agenda (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 246).

Basically, men played a greater role in making sure that suffrage and other movements were formed to liberate women. Some of the means or tactics that women used and were supported by men suffragists entailed civil disobedience, demonstrations, aggressive lobbying of government officials and hunger strikes (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 250). The tactics were shocking and they brought an augmented attention to the suffrage movement. Hunger striking was taken particularly by individuals and served as points of battle performed on the individual people. The hunger strike was initiated in the summer of 1909 and it was used as a method of protest against the British government for mistreating women. This was a mechanism to show the masculine population that the women in Britain have refused to take the role of being the mother and nurturer of the country. The British authorities responded to the women protest and forcefully fed them using painful mechanism carried within the settings of their cells (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 247).

Generally, the women’s suffrage movement sought to achieve justice for women by giving them opportunities which will institute them as individuals in employment and education, in the rights to obtain a divorce or own property, and the right to participate in voting activities. But before getting the anticipated rights, the suffragettes were to take on in an impressive sex war, a war that was frequently fought on the women’s body (Lewis 175). The suffragettes were willing to sacrifice their bodies together with their reputations so as to achieve the freedom for women. This sentiment on the women’s rights, liberation and power threatened the anti-suffrage making them took to sexual humiliation as a weapon against the suffrage movement. However, the women joining the movement were acquainted of this aspect upon recruitment, even with it being clearly absent from modern historical accounts of the time. More mothers and wives joined the movement in that era to fight for the cause. The mothers and wives felt a need to secure the young generation that will come after them against the sort of treatment that the societies impose on women (Midgley 121).

Men Support for Feminism across the World

Even though it is women who have historically advocated for the elimination of patriarchy and oppression against women to bring about equality or equity between men and women in the society, men also played an important role in women’s liberation. Since early nineteenth century, men have played a critical part, in bringing about political and cultural responses aimed at supporting feminism. For instance, men like Parker Pillsbury, a slavery abolitionist actively advocated for and promoted women’s rights by taking part in the drafting of the Feminist American Equal Rights Association’s constitution in 1865. As the New Hampshire Woman Suffrage Association’s President, Parker emerged as a vocal supporter of the rights of women. Furthermore, men like Jeremy Bentham who was a liberal championed for the equal rights for men and women under the rule of law. At the same time, there are those who argue that by identifying themselves with the feminist movement albeit without active participation, the men furthered the feminist causes. Their role within the feminist movement therefore involved fighting alongside women to condemn sexism, oppression, and inequality against women. Men who were abolitionists also actively supported the women’s suffrage movement in England and the United States. For instance, James Mott, Lucretia Mott’s husband, oversaw the signing of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention that sought to bring about change to the women’s suffrage and other rights. Moreover, men like Frederick Douglass supported women’s causes by signing the Declaration of Sentiments.

However, some academicians have argued that men cannot and did not play any role in the pro-feminism movement due to the natural differences that are inherent between men and women. Additionally, following the American Civil War, men like Henry Blackwell were actively involved in the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the American Woman Suffrage Association, and the American Equal Rights Association (Cobbe and National Society for Women’s Suffrage 269). In the US, President Wilson promoted the passage of an amendment to the US Constitution aimed at promoting women’s rights following the persuasion by the National Woman’s Party and the American Woman Suffrage Association. Men also formed the Men’s League for Woman’s Suffrage.

In the recent past, there a global organization of men calling themselves meninists has emerged advocating for and supporting the feminist principles of economic, social, and political equality. Men have also played the role of passing laws that promote more women’s participation in various spheres of life and supporting initiatives that advocate for equality and equity between women and men. Furthermore, the recent campaign by the United Nations dubbed “HeforShe” calls on men to get involved in the global campaign to enhance gender equality which according to the UN should not only be a women’s issue but an issue that directly also affects men.


Throughout the era under which women started craving for their rights of having a say in public views and dealings, women and men from all spheres of social classes played a major role in the greatest feminine achievement in the history of man. The feminine gender with support from men sought to challenge the anti-feminist groups on the oppression and inequalities they subject to them. Men realize that women played an increasing dynamic role in the politics of the land and they yearned to support them in alleviating the injustices they face in the society. Most of the movements stressed the importance of women involvement in politics and the contributions that they could bring to the public and the country affairs in general. Although this achievement was supported by men, a majority of the feminine populations supported and fought for their rights to be allowed to vote and have a say in the public domain.

Works Cited

Barker, Clive, and Maggie B Gale. British Theatre between the Wars, 1918-1939. Cambridge, England; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.

Cobbe, Frances Power, and National Society for Women’s Suffrage. “Why Women Desire the Franchise.” [Collected pamphlets]. 3 (1873): n. pag. Print.

Drifte, Collette. Women in the Second World War. Barnsley: Remember When, 2011. Print.

Felber, Lynette. Gender and Genre in Novels without End: The British Roman-Fleuve. Gainesville, Fla.: University Press of Florida, 1996. Print.

Lewis, Jane. Before the Vote Was Won. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2013. Open WorldCat. Web.

Mews, Hazel. Frail Vessels: Woman’s Role in Women’s Novels from Fanny Burney to George Eliot. London: The Athlone Press, 1969. Print.

Midgley, Clare. Women against Slavery: The British Campaigns, 1780-1870. London; New York: Routledge, 1992. Print.

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