"The Broken Lives of Women and Children"
"It is broken glass that you care about. It has caught your attention; it has brought me here to-night and has set you thinking."
Demonstrations of public "passion" for the cause, in various forms, indeed made a lasting impression on those that witnessed them. Their effectiveness became a central justification for militancy as an essential strategy for achieving suffragette aims half a century into their ongoing fight. In "The Votes for Women Fellowship," which appeared in the December 14, 1912 issue of Votes for Women, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence aligns the paper's purposes with those of suffragettes breaking glass for the cause through an opening anecdote: making the tragic waste and destruction of women's lives visible to the public.
During a country suffrage meeting a few weeks earlier, a women's doctor had spoken "graphically of the terrible problem of infant mortality," the debilitating sicknesses that follow surviving children throughout their entire lives, and the "destruction" of the lives of young girls sold into systematic prostitution. The doctor concluded with a brief history of failed "verbal entreaty and protest" through which suffragettes had tried to "arrest immediate attention to this appalling devastation of human life" through "the crashing of windows." Pethick-Lawrence notes how the very mention of these incidents made the audience listen with "more alert...interest" and how the men only asked questions about the broken glass, regarding "with so much apparent indifference the broken lives of women and children."
The doctor addressed this disturbing trend in the emotional response of the audience members. It must be, he reasoned, their ability to concretely see broken glass and thus to "conjure up the picture of it to your mental vision...and realize the waste and loss" that makes them care so much more about inanimate objects than "the stricken mother weeping over the wasted body of her dead body" or "the shame and despair of girl victims of organized vice." In a final turn, the doctor argued that the breaking of glass must indeed be the most effective way to literalize these "broken lives," to make the public "see," "think," and "understand" since it was clearly what brought them to the meeting that night.
Pethick-Lawrence goes on to agree that these gaps in public insight, knowledge, and understanding are precisely the greatest "stumbling block" preventing the progress of the Women's Movement. The weekly reporting of Votes for Women must therefore make "the vital connection" between "women's civic helplessness," "the long history of [their] foiled constitutional agitation," and "the broken window or the destroyed letter." The job of Votes for Women and the aims of its distribution to a wider public must therefore be to open windows in the minds of its readers, to make visible to them "the sweated woman, the toil-worn, hunger-weakened widow, the heart-broken mother, the wronged child" as well as the possibilities of better "conditions of life" offered the co-operation between men and women in "public service."
The newspaper, according to its mission statement, will do this through thorough political and critical analysis, discussion of the movement's "economic, educational, and moral" platforms, explanations of the rationales behind militant actions like the destruction of property, and reviews of contemporary art and literature which illustrate this "new spirit." Behind these various means, the single ends of cultivating "a better understanding" of the Movement for its broader acceptance emerges clearly. Even more explicitly, however, this fascinating clipping points to the "vital connection" between persuasive writing and militant tactics as necessary forms of drawing public attention and capturing the country's imagination. Breaking windows becomes an essential genre of political persuasion- of "seeing, knowing, and understanding." The movement needs both deeds and words, and more specifically deeds that concretely illustrate the destruction of public complacency made abstract through words.