Image Cartoon about women's suffrage, 1900

TLF ID R8618

This black-and-white cartoon from the 17 November 1900 edition of the Queensland federated unions' newspaper The Worker features a caricature of an older woman leaning over a desk, harassing a cowering man seated on the other side. Demanding her promised vote and wielding an umbrella, the woman probably represents Emma Miller (1839-1917), a leading suffragette of the time. The artist has drawn the man as a caricature of the unsympathetic premier of the time, Robert Philp (1851-1922). The caption is: ''Here, you man! Where's that Vote you promised Me?''.

Educational details

Educational value
  • The cartoon refers to the long struggle in Qld for women's suffrage by leaders such as Emma Miller, probably depicted in the cartoon. Miller was a tailor who founded the first women's trade union and helped found women's political groups. Between 1890 and 1904 there were several unsuccessful attempts to achieve the vote for women in Qld. It was finally granted in 1905, five years after the cartoon was drawn. Only Victoria was later, granting women the vote in 1908.
  • This cartoon appeared at a time when three women's suffrage groups, including Miller's, were lobbying Robert Philp to introduce women's suffrage and Philp was being accused of duplicity on the issue. In 1901 he linked women's suffrage to an unsuccessful bill introduced by Justin Foxton giving fathers two votes for two children. The Elections Act Amendment Bill, giving women the vote, was finally passed in 1905 between Philp's two terms as premier (1899-1903 and 1907-08).
  • Emma Miller and other suffragettes believed that paying taxes entitled women to the vote and that, being subject to the law, women should have a voice in its formulation. They believed enfranchisement would result in improved working conditions, an increase in the age of consent, property rights, equal pay, reduced domestic violence, improved education for girls and opportunities for women to work in professions and the public service.
  • Caricature is used effectively in the cartoon to ridicule Robert Philp, depicting him as bringing upon himself the wrath of Emma Miller, a leading suffragette who is presented as towering over him in a threatening pose. Suffragettes were often ridiculed and presented in the media as ugly, strident spinsters, but - as The Worker was usually sympathetic to the suffragette cause - the artist's intention was probably to satirise two personalities in the struggle.
  • Women's suffrage had been delayed in many states by the arguments of politicians such as Philp and their supporters, some of whom were women, who claimed that women were unfit to vote as they lacked intellectual capacity, were too easily led and would vote as men told them. They also claimed that women would neglect their families, the divorce rate would go up, the birth rate down, and that women themselves preferred to remain 'uncontaminated' by politics.
  • At the time the cartoon was drawn there were two groups campaigning for the vote for women in Qld: the Women's Equal Franchise Association (WEFA) and the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). In 1894 Miller had helped form WEFA, which unlike other women's groups insisted on the abolition of the plural vote before the granting of women's suffrage. The plural vote system gave men multiple votes according to the number of properties they owned.

Other details

  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 06 Sep 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
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  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: State Library of Queensland
  • Address: Brisbane QLD 4000 Australia
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of State Library of Queensland
  • Content provider
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 1900
  • Name: Monte Scott
  • Remarks: illustrator
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 1900
  • Organisation: The Worker
  • Remarks: publisher
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