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Why you should care about this graph March 20, 2009

Posted by Lee in linkedin, Statistics.

It’s boring. It’s black and white. It’s important.

The graph shows the year that each country granted complete ballot access to women. That means that they could vote on every level (local, state, federal) and they could run for any of those offices, too.

It should be a little startling how late these dates are. The 19th amendment to the U.S. constitution didn’t pass until 1920, and then only after failed votes in the U.S. House and Senate.

There are clusters after the two world wars : lots of countries came after the Great War (U.S., Canada, Germany) and many others after the Second World War (France, Italy, Belgium). None without a life-and-death struggle. Life and death — a little heavy handed, no ?

No. Here’s a magazine from 1913, from France. Fantasio was a satirical, humorist, political magazine that existed in what would be the golden age of print journalism. Some of its images are so completely NSFW that I can’t post them. Here, though, is an article showing then-President Poincaré after he was “taken hostage” by the suffragettes (or suffragists, depending on your particular definition) during a visit to London. Remember : in neither country, nor in the U.S., could women vote in general. Click on the picture to download a PDF of the file.

Fantasio 1913

Here you have the most powerful man in the free world prisonnier des suffragettes. A little farther along you see that only his diplomacy and skill saved the day, after he purposely waved off police protection. “But Monsieur Poincaré is an homme d’esprit. Instead of opposing at all, he welcomed the women with words of welcome.”

Further: “The response was made with such smiling good humor, unbridled energy and cordiality, that the suffragettes, now disarmed, abandoned the idea of going any further…”

Note the part that I’m not quoting, regarding the terrible exploit de miss Davison. When first assigned this reading, I passed by that little phrase with reckless abandon, concentrating more on sorting out the verb forms and idioms of the article. Now that I’ve pointed it out to you, do you know who she was, this miss Davison? Neither did I.

Emily Davison was a leader of the suffragette movement from early on. Her Wikipedia page shows that she allied herself with some of the more militant aspects of the movement, violently attacking the British Chancellor of the Eschecquer (“Secretary of the Treasury” when translated to American) and his home, hiding in a parliament cupboard (“closet”), and of course, spending time in jail. There, she continued all out in her protests, including throwing herself off a staircase and going on a hunger strike that resulted in her being force-fed. I can only imagine what that little slice of heaven was like in the Dickensian-named Strtangeways Prison.

June 4, 1913, Epsom Derby. Think of the race scene in My Fair Lady. The horses neared Tattenham Corner, a dangerous spot for horses and jockeys alike, and the field began to thin out. Anmer, the horse owned by His Majesty George V was in back of field, close up to Nimbus, owned by a Frenchman.

For reasons still unclear, Emily Davison stepped out of the crowd at exactly the moment of Anmer’s passing, probably to attach a women’s movement banner onto the king’s horse as it passed. Nimbus swerved, but the King’s horse could not. Miss Davison was hit and knocked unconscious.

It’s not a difficult story to tell, but luckily, I don’t have to. Watch it yourself.

She dies four days later.

That’s why you should care about my graph. The universal right to vote is both recent and palpable. Don’t forget that on November 4th, regardless of who you support.


1. Andy - August 26, 2010

You should also graph the relationship of government size to women’s suffrage. You will find that the size of government and it’s spending explodes after women have the right to vote.
I’m not trying to be controversial. That is what the data shows.

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