Rose Witcop on the Suffragette Movement

To the Editor, The Woman Rebel.

Dear Comrade: In your article in the June issue of your paper, you give what I consider to be an idealistic account of the suffragette movement in England. It is true, that at times, in spite of ourselves we are inclined to become sympathetic towards “the cause,” because of the petty persecutions, which some of its advocates suffer. But are we to be ruled by sentiment? If so, why not avow ourselves Christians, because in some district the poor tools of the “general” [Booth of the Salvation Army] were met with something stronger than hard words? That women are entitled to the vote (for what it is worth) I do not wish to dispute; but what I do deny, – and that emphatically, – is that they are inspired by “a new passion for liberty.” I would rather say the suffragette is inspired by the passion to govern. Really one marvels at the interest our movement is taking in the Woman’s struggle for the vote. For there is not the least doubt that some of the brainiest and most energetic members of the Socialist movement have been sent right off the track by means of a few catch phrases. Yet perhaps it is as well that we sort ourselves out occasionally, and realise how many, or how few of us are really prepared to stand by the clearcut principles of revolutionary Socialism; understand what Parliament stands for, and the corrupting it has upon even the most disinterested.

And let us not presume that those who are financing the militants are doing so from any philanthropic motives. It appears to me that the American Radical movement as well as the English, is deluding itself that woman, the sex, is the victim, and that the vote will prove a means to emancipation. This is obviously illogical. For how shall we benefit if, instead of electing our master – as we do to-day – we elect his wife to govern us?

That is all, actually, the property vote movement stands for. It does not dream of abolishing this wage-slave society; it does not even demand Adult Suffrage. The mere mention of Free Love would horrify any self-respecting militant, whilst freedom, as you or I would define it, would meet with their very severe disapproval; our object should indeed be to instil into the heart of the toiler a cordial hatred for the “White livered monster” you refer to, “that fattens upon child labor – and prostitution.” But, we must take great care to point out, at the same time, that the monster is a bi-sexual creature called capitalism.

Yours for a free society.

Rose Witcop

From: The Woman Rebel v.1, n.5, July 1914.