In the years leading up to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, women's suffrage was never far from the headlines due to the constant bombardment of publicity stunts pulled by Emmeline Pankhurst and her Suffragettes. Using all within their power to gain attention, the Suffragettes believed in using direct persuasion, and if necessary, violent protest to remain in the public eye, pulling stunts from chaining themselves to the railings of the houses of specific members of Parliament to smashing the shop windows on Oxford Street.At the other end of the spectrum were the Suffragists, who based their campaign entirely on their powers of persuasion, believing in only peaceful protest such as writing petitions and sending letters to Parliament. Although this initially gained respect from authoritative men of the time due to the patience, stability and intelligence emphasised in these actions, these incipient forms of peaceful protest did not encourage many people to support their cause.

These forms of objection and peaceful protest were effective to an extent but people failed to keep an interest, as the form of protest used by the Suffragists got them nowhere very quickly, causing people to become impatient. The formation of the WSPU, Women's Social and Political Union, took place in 1903 and was founded by Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst due to her impatience with the slow processes used by the Suffragists, believing that women should stop asking for the vote and should start fighting for it.The campaign was largely undertaken by its new leaders, Emmeline Pankhurst and her two daughters, Christabel and Sylvia, although the latter daughter strayed from the cause, choosing to work with and help the single mothers of London. It was in 1905 when the first, most publicly known violent act undertaken by the Suffragettes came about. Christabel Pankhurst and her second in command, Annie Kenney were arrested after interrupting a large political meeting taking place in Manchester.When the two refused to pay fines, they were then imprisoned, which Christable used the publicity of her trial greatly to her advantage, gaining both support and sympathy.

When raids on Parliament took place in 1906, then when another Women's Suffrage Bill was blocked and ignored, further raids occurred in 1908, including the heckling of MP's and the chaining of Suffragettes to railings, this was the pivotal point when people began to lose respect for them.The Suffragettes believed that all publicity was good publicity and sustained that they should gain the attention of the people by any means possible, including the use of violence. They assumed that by never failing to reach the newspapers their campaign would remain a constant figure in the lives of everyday people and that there would be a greater support for their cause.When, in 1910, Black Friday took place, this led the Suffragettes to become even more violent, turning to arson and destroying property.

At the height of their violence in 1913, including the saga of the 'Cat and Mouse Act', and the establishment of the Suffragettes first martyr, Emily Wilding Davison, the general public had quickly tired of the antics of the Suffragettes as their violence spiralled out of control, and any respect that they had once held was lost.At this point in time, nearing the First World War, due to the extreme advance in violent protest used by the Suffragettes, although the majority of the party enjoyed it, some of the Suffragettes followers and supporters were extremely unhappy about the way in which their cause was going. The violent protest used by the Suffragettes only infuriated those towards whom it was aimed and only continued to prove the initial belief, held by the majority of the upper class men of the time, that women were irresponsible and were therefore unworthy of the right to vote.By lashing out in the form of violence, the Suffragettes only reinforced the idea that women were unstable.

Men of this time grew more and more unimpressed by the actions of the Suffragettes as they had not totally proved themselves in the eyes of the men and still strongly held the belief that politics was an unsuitable topic to concern women with, due to their lack of interest and education of a subject such as it. Upper class men were opposed to women gaining the vote as at this time, not all men had the vote, so why should women?As well as not all men having the vote at this time, it was realised that even if the Suffragettes did get the vote for women, it would only affect upper and some middle class women. Many influential figures of this time were antagonistic towards the vote for women, including Queen Victoria. Some men felt threatened by the thought of women gaining power, maybe even equality, through them gaining the right to vote and so did all within their power to place obstacles on the Suffragettes path to gaining the vote for women.

Although the Suffragettes achieved great publicity for countless years, due to the fact that they were never far from the public eye meant that their ideas and campaign were practically forced onto the general public, and then took drastic measures to gain their attention. Many people lost respect for the Suffragettes when they launched violent protests as they only enforced the idea that women should be denied the vote due to their recklessness and incapability of being able to conform to peaceful protest.