The Ascent of Woman : A History of the Suffragette Movement, Paperback

The Ascent of Woman : A History of the Suffragette Movement Paperback

0.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


The story of the fight to gain the vote for women is about much more than a peripheral if picturesque skirmish around the introduction of universal suffrage.

It is an explosive story of social and sexual revolutionary upheaval, and one which has not yet ended.

The movement for women's suffrage in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries prefigured to a startling extent the controversies which rage today around the role of women.

Far from the stereotype of a uniform body of women chaining themselves to railings, the early feminist movement was riven by virulent arguments over women's role in society, the balance to be struck between self-fulfilment and their duties to family and children, and their relationship with men. Melanie Phillips' brilliant book tells the story of the fight for women's suffrage in a way which sets the high drama of those events in the context of the moral and intellectual ferment that characterised it.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384 pages, Section: 16, b/w
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Social & cultural history
  • ISBN: 9780349116600



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It takes a lot to stop me reading a book. Even now I feel like I'm cheating by doing this, but there is no way I can finish this book. I picked this book up on a trip to the British library to see an exhibit on civil rights which left me with a desire to learn more about the sufragete movement and the women who have made it possible for me to vote. This book was in the gift shop so I picked it up with no prior knwoledge of the author. It was a mistake. This is the first book that has made me so angry that I have actually added anotations to the pages, pointing out anti-feminist and anti-woman sentiments. In the very first chapter Phillips earms my contempt by stating that Mary Wollstonecraft's mother deserved to be domestically abused. She goes on to make a range of statements which, of the top of my head, included criticising early feminists because they weren't fashionable enough, repeatedly pointing out how feminist people weren't and making value judgements about particularly early feminists sex lives based on gossip and suposition. She also makes the assumption that any pro-feminist text must be written by a woman while the only person at a third of the way through the book who has been actually identified as a great feminist is a man. She repeatedly attacks anyone who suggest that men might have to sacrifice some of their privelage to gain equal rights, and pushed the idea that feminists see women as superior and that clearly they're wrong to see women as superior. She says the role of feminism is to redeam men and that feminism is plagued by the distinction as to if they want men and women to be equal or if women are moraly superior. I have issues with this book. As a feminist, it made me angry. Not only in the complete lack of respect it showed to the pinoeering women who stood up and demanded to be treat as women, rather then property of their husbands, and proved that women are competent and strong-minded, not just the weak simpering things they were presumed to be. The women who made it possible for me to be sat here today as a competent career women and made a world where nobody told Phillips she couldn't write because she was a women. I'm also angry for every other woman who's ever identified as feminist. This book is ignorant at a deep level of what feminism is and what it means to millions of women around the world today. Admitedly, feminism is complicated and women don't deserve respect just because they stood up and demanded a vote, but attacking their dress sense and sex lives is beyond low. I will not be finishing this book. I will not be recomending this book. I will not give this book to a charity shop or mooch it (even if I hadn't anotated it) because, while Phillips is of course allowed to write and publish what she likes, I don't have to read it, and I don't have to help her spread her message of disrespect and hatred to people who might not have the background to reject it. Come summer, this book is overpriced kindling.

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