Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), militant wing of the British woman suffrage movement. WSPU was founded in Manchester on October 10, 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst The WSPU sought votes for women in a country that had expressly denied women suffrage in 1832.
Initially the WSPU’s tactics were to cause disruption and some civil disobedience, such as the ‘rush’ on Parliament in October 1908 when it encouraged the public to join them in an attempt to invade the House of Commons. 60,000 people gathered.
Suffragettes became skilled at dealing with interruptions. Responses born of frustration demonstrate speakers’ abilities to think on their feet and turn insults to their advantage, mirroring Freud’s observations regarding the ability of jokes to transform hearers into co-haters.40 In Somerset Annie Kenney found ‘‘an elderly man kept repeating the same statement ever few minutes ‘if you were my wife I’d give you poison’’’. Eventually, the speaker, ‘‘tired of his repeated interruption, replied ‘yes, and if I were your wife I’d take it