Women’s Sunday

by zeph

On Women’s Sunday, seven processions began from various points of London and marched to Hyde Park to hear speeches given by the Pankhursts and other suffragettes. More than 300,000 people gathered for the suffragette rally. It was one of the largest single demonstrations ever, up till that time.

“On 21 June 1908 the WSPU staged ‘Women’s Sunday’ in Hyde Park, which was attended by over 500,000. Specially chartered trains brought women from all over Britain. Sunday was chosen so that as many working class women as possible could attend. Over 700 banners in purple, white and green were carried in over seven processions to Hyde Park.”
From Votes for Women’ by Diane Atkinson, Cambridge Educational,1988.

‘We can but offer a tribute of admiration to the wonderful skill in organisation displayed by those responsible for this remarkable demonstration, and at the same time to the management by the police of this enormous crowd. Certainly,Mr Asquith’s advice is bearing fruit. It would be idle to deny, after the object lessons of june 13 and yesterday, that a great many women are for the time being, eagerly desirous of the fraanchise.’ The Times 22 June 1908

‘I am sure a great many people never realised until yesterday how young and dainty and elegant and charming most leaders of the movement are. And how well they spoke – with what free and graceful gestures; never at a loss for a word or an apt reply to an interruption.’
From the Daily Mail 25 june 1908

“What a day was this Sunday – clear, radiant, rilled with golden sunshine! As I advanced, leading, with the venerable Mrs. Wolstenholme-Elmy, the first of the seven processions, it seemed to me that all London had turned out to witness our demonstration. And a goodly part of London followed the processions. When I mounted my platform in Hyde Park, and surveyed the mighty throngs that waited there and the endless crowds that were still pouring into the park from all directions, I was filled with amazement not unmixed with awe. Never had I imagined that so many people could be gathered together to share in a political demonstration. It was a gay and beautiful as well as an awe-inspiring spectacle, for the white gowns and flower-trimmed hats of the women, against the background of ancient trees, gave the park the appearance of a vast garden in full bloom. The bugles sounded, and the speakers at each of the twenty platforms began their addresses ….

We felt that we had answered the challenge in Mr Gladstone’s declaration that “power belongs to the masses,” and that through this power the Government could be influenced; so it was with real hope that we despatched a copy of the resolution to the Prime Minister, asking him what answer the Government would make to that unparallelled gathering of men and women.”
Emmeline Pankhurst’s autobiography My Own Story (1914)

Emmeline Pankhurst

A version of this post was previously published at http://reallyrad.wordpress.com/

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13 Comments to “Women’s Sunday”

  1. My whole house and wardrobe act as a shrine to the Purple, White and Green of the suffragists. There were truly remarkable feminist who were so well organised they had their own shops marketing all their campaign goods from underwear to dresses from badges and brooches from boots to unberellas lines wear and household items many of these amazing items are still retained in the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester and in the Womons LIbrary and other places in LOndon.
    In the British Museum is an example of a penny, these routinely defaced scratching out the kings head and stamping Votes for Women on the coinage of the realm…….many daring acts were committed xas with other womon in all parts of the world in their fight for emancipation….to be treated as human beings….to some degree the mass of womon have forgotten this legacy and let it down badly because womon now allows themselves to be treated as less that human..and find it hard to comprehend what the suffragettes were harping in on about.
    At least it now forms part of senior school her-story lessons…greater awareness is emerging from young womon who seem to have just discovered this vital courageous and liberating part of her-story…..wonderful post Zeph xx

  2. Thanks, Zeph, for this lovely reminder of the power of womyn to gather together for the cause of elevating themselves, and liberating their full power in the world.

  3. Great post Zeph thank you!!

  4. These beautiful re-membering posts of yours are so inspiring, zeph. Thank you.

  5. Hello All

    There is a place for us to congregate shortly! Queens Park, Feb 11th, at 2pm. The Brisbane Pro Life movement is holding their rally then and I’m trying to recruit as many women as possible for a counter protest.

    I’m not sure you can see the google doc here, but if you are interested in spreading the word, please email me at gravenpetal@gmail.com.

    Long time lurker, first time commenter.

  6. Most revolutions in history have been initiated by women. Common sense dictates why. Women and children are the hardest hit in hard times. So women organize and kick off the rebellion. Men then join in, take over, invisibilize women’s part in it as well as their casualties, and take all the credit for it. What else is new with men? But it’s always awesome when some women and their work and deeds shine through even despite men’s fuckery and attempts to erase them. Such as the Pankhursts. What extraordinary women they must have truly been to escape erasure.

  7. Luckynkl–I quite agree that womyn have been in tradition, and can be today, powerful fomenters of rebellion. Yes, we (and our children) do most often feel the worst of hard times. As for this statement:

    “But it’s always awesome when some women and their work and deeds shine through even despite men’s fuckery and attempts to erase them. Such as the Pankhursts. What extraordinary women…”

    I think we are always allowed a few she-ras to trickle through his-storical filters by mensworld–to soothe our fears that men want to erase us! NO, no, no, see? We DO value womyn, look how we put the Pankhursts in the books! Just as spoken by one Occupy womyn, about the tent-city in Zucotti Park with it’s lanes all named for famous men except for one named angela davis avenue: “at least we included a (token) womyn”.

  8. Thanks for the good words everyone.

    “There were truly remarkable feminist who were so well organised they had their own shops marketing all their campaign goods from underwear to dresses from badges and brooches from boots to unberellas lines wear and household items many of these amazing items are still retained in the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester and in the Womons LIbrary and other places in LOndon.”

    Yes, Ybawife they got their message out to women through any means possible and wonderful events like Women’s Sunday were the result. I have some buttons embroidered with their colours. Your collection sounds awesome!

  9. “Most revolutions in history have been initiated by women. Common sense dictates why. Women and children are the hardest hit in hard times. So women organize and kick off the rebellion. Men then join in, take over, invisibilize women’s part in it as well as their casualties, and take all the credit for it. What else is new with men? But it’s always awesome when some women and their work and deeds shine through even despite men’s fuckery and attempts to erase them. Such as the Pankhursts. What extraordinary women they must have truly been to escape erasure.”

    Very insightful comment Lucky, men tried very hard to erase them and they saw it coming and fought back against it. Grace Roe found Christabel’s manuscript after her death and it was her determination that got it published posthumously.

    I remember, in the area where I lived as a small child many of the old women still had photos of Emmeline and Christabel in there houses, and the men were always saying that they should take them down now, but they steadfastly refused. Later in my teens, boys our age tried to tell us they had been old ugly women who could not get men! Nothing could be further from the truth. When we re-member them, we re-member ourselves and what we can achieve.

  10. zeph–“Later in my teens, boys our age tried to tell us they had been old ugly women who could not get men!”

    yeah, b/c being ‘beautiful’ (in men’s eyes), and being ‘young’ (therefore fertile/fuckable) and most of all ‘getting a man’ is what makes a womyn’s life worthwhile (in the eyes of men who cannot imagine womyn having any other purpose than men’s satisfactions).

    and–“Nothing could be further from the truth. When we re-member them, we re-member ourselves and what we can achieve.”

    Yeah! To fully re-member ourselves is to dis-cover our fullest extent of power to create a life worth living on our own terms.

  11. “yeah, b/c being ‘beautiful’ (in men’s eyes), and being ‘young’ (therefore fertile/fuckable) and most of all ‘getting a man’ is what makes a womyn’s life worthwhile (in the eyes of men who cannot imagine womyn having any other purpose than men’s satisfactions).”

    Exactly Hari B, but unfortunately that kind of propaganda can be very effective when used on teenage girls, so you have to refute it, even though looks are skin deep and won’t get you much further than being some mans arm accessory. Suffragettes, like all women, come in different shapes and sizes, some beautiful, some plain, all awesome.

  12. Agreed–it absolutely has to be refuted, b/c of the impact of this kind of commentary used by men/against womyn, and how effective it can be. Now, I am pretty much immune to it myself–but can think of too many times when this sort of commentary silenced me or worse led me to waste time trying to explain things to such men (as if they were open to enlightenment) or even worse sent me scurrying into useless self-reflection (internalizing the hate as guilt for sins I must ‘recognize’ if I were to ‘grow’). All of that is a waste of time and energy. Speaking to it with any womyn, refuting such hateful lies, is potentially of benefit to all womyn.

  13. Clearly we need another one just like it, once calling for the complete destruction and annihilation of male domination and the horrific way males treat women and girls.

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