Thursday, 14 December 2017

Women’s suffrage and temperance as seen by the New Zealand Graphic

Some political cartoons published by the 'New Zealand Graphic and Ladies Journal' dealt with women’s suffrage and temperance. Interestingly, for a ladies’ journal, sometimes the attitudes to women’s issues are portrayed from a wistfully cynical male viewpoint of female foibles. Perhaps this is explained by the fact that the Graphic’s principal cartoonist was one Mr Ashley John Barsby Hunter. Have a look at his view of ‘The Political Woman.’

Ref: New Zealand Graphic. The political woman. 2 July 1898.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18980702-17-1
The next cartoon shows the Women’s Franchise Bill about to be committed before the Legislative Council after passing through the House of Representatives with half-hearted, devious Liberal support. Now a reluctant and scheming Seddon is about to commit the Bill to the Upper House. The clerks (other politicians) are laying odds that they will throw it out.

Ref: New Zealand Graphic. Committed. 26 August 1893.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18930826-129-1

When, to general male political chagrin, the Women’s Franchise Bill was passed many different interest groups wanted to use the benefit of the women’s vote. See all the self-interested hands reaching out for her in the next cartoon.

Ref: New Zealand Graphic. Victory. 16 September 1893.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18930916-201-1
Some of these interest groups were from both sides of Parliament. Both parties in Parliament had formed themselves into loose associations. The governing Liberals formed the Liberal Association while the opposition formed itself into the National Association (though not yet the National Party.) The next cartoon shows a young woman critically weighing-up which association she will give her vote, and perhaps thinking she doesn’t have much choice between calibre of her two alternatives.

Ref: New Zealand Graphic. "The two asses and the bundle of hay". 21 October 1893.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18931021-321-1
More enlightened politicians and advocates hoped that rational women would be able to use their vote and influence as a force for good to give Parliament a good, moral, ‘spring clean’ to get rid of some of the immature and grubby aspects of competitive male politics. Here she is, scrubbing behind a dirty politician’s dirty ears...

Ref: New Zealand Graphic. Purification. 18 November 1893.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18931118-417-1
...and the next cartoon shows the influence of rational women voters purging society of many antisocial activities and vices, most of whose perpetrators are men.

Ref: New Zealand Graphic. 'Disguise our bondage...' 30 September 1893.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18930930-249-1 
Another social issue for women voters was temperance (due to male intemperance and the evils it brought.) The next cartoon links both women’s suffrage and temperance. On the top right, Sir John Hall, ‘the carpet knight’ who supported votes for women (but not Chinese immigration), carpets the floor of the House with the Women’s Franchise petition, while the large cartoon at bottom left shows the opening of the prohibition campaign in Auckland with its women supporters. Prohibitionists are storming the barrels in the beer barons’ castle and being repelled with beer poured on them by the drunkards manning the barricades.

Ref: New Zealand Graphic. Recent events. 12 August 1893.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18930812-84-1
One of the main advocates of both women’s suffrage and temperance was Sir Robert Stout. In the next cartoon, he is shown as ‘The Grand Old Mesmerist.’ Stout has already charmed employers to pay their workers higher wages and persuaded New Zealand to give women the vote (leaving men at home holding their babies.) For his next trick, he is about to make a hardened drunkard drink water instead of beer.

Ref: New Zealand Graphic. "Under the spell". 29 July 1893.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18930729-36-1
The next cartoon shows the temperance debate in New Zealand between the temperance advocate Sir Robert Stout and the prevaricating Liberals (personified by Richard Seddon), who have realised their male supporters did not want prohibition.

Ref: New Zealand Graphic. Teetotal immersion. 22 July 1893.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18930722-11-1
Seddon was an ex-publican, so was very aware of how draconian temperance measures would affect the popularity of the Liberal Government. His Alcoholic Liquors Sale Control Bill allowed optional licensing polls in electoral districts, but he realised Sir Robert Stout’s more restrictive Licensing Act Amendment Bill could really alienate his thirsty male supporters. The next cartoon shows Premier Seddon throwing Stout out of his pub and making him drink the mild waters of moderation, while fellow Liberal William Pember Reeves encourages the premier from the safety of the pub porch!

Ref: New Zealand Graphic. The gentle shepherd... 2 September 1893.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18930902-153-1
Author: Christopher Paxton, Heritage Collections

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