Mill was a Liberal, who propounded an individualistic concept of feminism. In 1879 the German socialist leader, August Bebel published Woman and Socialism, which set out a utopian view of a future classless society in which 'bourgeois' marriage and family life would no longer exist. This embarrassed some of his colleagues.
By 1870 both France and Germany had universal male suffrage. This was introduced in Austria in 1907. In Italy in 1912 a law was introduced to include all literate men of twenty-one or older, or who had served in the armed forces. These advances made women’s exclusion from the franchise all the more striking.
|Hubertine Auclert (1848-1914)|
The movement for women’s suffrage was strongest in Britain. It was more difficult in France because of the combined opposition of Republicans and conservatives. Nevertheless a female suffrage movement emerged in 1876. In 1880 its leading figure Hubertine Auclert launched a tax revolt, arguing that without representation women should not be subjected to taxation.
In February 1881 she launched a monthly periodical, La Citoyenne, arguing for women’s enfranchisement. In early 1885 she and her supporters held a shadow election in which fifteen women stood, though they did not gain admission to the Assembly. In 1904 she led a feminist demonstration in Paris in which she tore up a copy of the Code Napoléon. From a balcony she launched balloons on which were written the words:
‘The Code crushes women: it dishonours the Republic.’In 1908 she invaded the Chamber of Deputies with twenty followers and threw leaflets at the politicians. In the same year she and her companion invaded a polling booth and overturned ballot boxes. But the movement was weak compared with its British counterpart. A rally held early in July 1914 attracted only 6,000 people.