Lord Curzon's 15 good reasons

A campaign poster from the National League for Opposing Women's Suffrage

Lord Curzon's feeling towards women not being given the vote was so strong that in 1912 he published a pamphlet stating 15 good reasons why women shouldn't be granted suffrage.

For the well-being of the country

Lord Curzon and the National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage (NLOWS) believed passionately that maintaining women’s traditional maternal role, separate from politics, was crucial for the wellbeing of the country, the empire and democracy. 

This formed the basis of his good reasons, reasons he first voiced during a speech in 1909. 

'Fifteen Good Reasons Against the Grant of Female Suffrage'

Curzon believed his reasons to be “sound, valid, and incontrovertible arguments”, some of which stated that:

  • “Political activity will tend to take away woman from her proper sphere and highest duty, which is maternity.”
  • “Those persons ought not to make laws who cannot join in enforcing them. Women cannot become soldiers, sailors, or policemen, or take an active part in the maintenance of law and order. They are incapacitated from discharging the ultimate obligations of citizenship.”
  • “It will tend by the divisions which it will introduce to break up the harmony of the home.”

You can see an orginal copy of the pamplet here and read the full set of 'Good Reasons' at the 'No Votes Thank You' exhibition at Kedleston Hall which runs until November 2018. 

15 good questions

To challenge Curzon's reasons and get people thinking about women and politics, here at Kedleston we are asking 15 good questions: 

  1. Lord Curzon said that ‘women have not, as a sex or a class, the calmness of temperament or the balance of mind’ required to make judgements. What would you say in response?
  2. Can men be feminists?
  3. Lord Curzon predicted that if women could vote, they would be seen as equal to men. He suggested that this would make them more vulnerable. Do you think women became more vulnerable with the right to vote?
  4. Lord Curzon claimed that women would only use the vote in emergencies and situations of “emotional excitement” - how do you feel hearing that?
  5. What question would you pose to Lord Curzon, leader of the National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage?
  6. Do you think that Lord Curzon’s three daughters and wife shared his views opposing women’s right to vote?
  7. How has giving women the vote improved things?
  8. What does the vote mean to you?
  9. Do you think the National Trust has a role in telling sensitive and challenging stories? 
  10. Was Lord Curzon right in any way with his thoughts on a woman’s position in society? 
  11. Votes for women divided opinions in families. How do you deal with disagreements in your family?
  12. Will we ever have a society where all sexes and genders are equal?
  13. What current issues would you fight for?
  14. Does Lord Curzon’s fight against female suffrage remind you of politics today?
  15. How could we share stories like this in the future?

We'll be asking these questions throughout June on social media. You can follow the debate and have your say on Facebook and Twitter - #novotesthankyou. 

You can also watch our curators talk about the No Votes Thank You please exhibition in this special Facebook live recording.