Images of the suffragettes reveal that early feminists looked much like their third wave modern variety – plain or downright ugly. This will come as no surprise to those students of the history of feminism who understand that ‘the women’s movement’ has always been driven by the gradual (and sometimes sudden) loss of female sexual power since the Industrial Revolution, modern capitalism, and mass urbanisation. The first wave of feminists were motivated by much the same thing as their 21st century counterparts – fighting against the fact that one is an unattractive loser in a free sexual market. The vote was seen as merely a means of controlling male sexuality and social morals, and was a continuation of the Victorian ‘Social Purity Movement‘ that sought to abolish prositution and raise the age of consent.
In particular, the suffragettes were responding to the loosening of sexual morals brought about by Industrialisation and the move from the countryside to the city – social upheavals that brought in their wake such threats as prostitutes, later marrying ages for girls (and thus more available single girls), and more reliable and cheaper forms of male contraception (condoms). Likewise, in our own age, feminists are taking ever greater control over governments and societies throughout the world because of globalisation and its many threats to female sexual power – from cheap Polish prostitutes to jailbait webcam teens stripping in their bedrooms. In a free sexual market, ugly women are the greatest losers. Feminism is the political process of forcibly transferring sexual power from the young and beautiful to the old and ugly (female).
A feminist has responded to these images, and my characterisation of the early feminists as being notable for their physcial ugliness by claiming that ‘everybody’ was unattractive back then. Take a look at the following pictures of Edwardian stage actresses and early silent film stars of the 1910’s and 20’s, and see if you agree.