Published in The Spectator, 15th March 1935
(First read 11/12/2014)
|Mrs Pankhurst addresses a crowd|
Benson was clearly no feminist; indeed he's often accused of outright misogyny ~ generally by people who've only read the Mapp and Lucia novels. In fact his fictional women fall into two very pronounced types: (1) the cats, shrews, vixens, cows, harpies, bitches, witches (etc.) we all know and love from his satirical novels; and (2) the sweet, noble, impossibly virtuous, nauseating and frankly improbable saints so prominent in his (melo)dramas. There was practically no middle ground. [Sorry ~ wandering off the point a bit.] In this article he carefully aligns himself with those who claim post facto that their sole objection to the Suffragist movement was the activities of its more militant wing. EFB might not ever have been violently anti-women's suffrage but, before the Great War, he rarely missed an opportunity to poke fun at it².
¹ I daresay he didn't approve, though. Queen Mary wouldnt've let him.
² For his most sustained mock see the novel Mrs Ames (1912). It has to be said that the eponymous heroine's feeble'n'futile pro-suffrage protest is the highlight of that book.