How The Temperance Movement Gave Women A Voice

In Victorian Britain, women had few rights. They were expected to marry and stay at home to raise children. A life of domesticity and church services were all a woman had to look forward to.

But in 1876, when The British Women’s Temperance Association was formed, women began to have a cause to fight for. In a society where you were not even allowed to vote, campaigning against the consumption of alcohol finally gave women something to shout about.

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Not everyone approved of the cause. This is a still from comedy film Kansas Saloon Smashers, showing a satirical depiction of the campaigners.

So what did the Temperance Movement do?

Well, they held meetings in an attempt to change licensing laws (at the time there was no age restrictions on alcohol so even small children could be served in pubs) and protested outside pubs and taverns. They also took a pledge to never drink alcohol. Temperance Bars opened across Britain, serving only soft drinks, meaning that women could finally escape the home and treat themselves to a glass of dandelion and burdock or cream soda.

The movement allowed for women to be actively involved in politics without, well, officially being allowed to be involved in politics.

They would have to wait till 1903 for Emmeline Pankhurst to come along but by the time she did, thanks to the Temperance Movement, women already had a voice.

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Britain’s last temperance bar: Fitzpatricks in Rossendale.