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The Great Morality Feud and the Women's Suffrage Movement in Denmark


The great morality feud

In the 1880s, a hot debate raged on gender and morality, which was called the great morality feud. In the 1880s, industrialization and modernity posed major challenges and changes to the gender roles in society, as well as the prevailing morality. These challenges to the gender roles and the prevailing morality were why the discussion about morality stepped up in the 1880s.

The debate on morality was later nicknamed "The Great Northern War on sexual morality", and those who participated in the debate were mainly intellectuals, writers and women's fighters, who saw new opportunities for the relationship between the sexes in society.

The official sexual morality assumed that the only form of sexual behavior was the one that was practiced in marriage and that this sexual behavior had reproduction as its highest goal.

But the sexual morale of the middle-class men was different, as it was accepted by a society that the middle-class men served themselves by lower standing women.

The Norwegian writer Bjørn Stjerne Bjørnson published in the 1883 drama "a Glove" in which he advocated the inequality of sexual morality between man and woman in society.

Many Nordic culture radical writers were inspired by the drama "a Glove" and contributed in the following years to the debate on morality and sexual morality through short stories, novels, poems, etc.

Women protesting for their right to vote

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Women's struggle for electoral rights

When democracy was introduced in Denmark with the Constitution the 5. June 1849, and Denmark thus got its first elected parliament, it was only self-supporting men over the age of 30 and who fulfilled certain criteria, that were entitled to vote. Half of the country's adult population, the women, were not included in the political citizenship.

In the last decades of the 18th century, a large number of women began to mobilize in the struggle for the right to vote. The number of women involved in the fight for the right to vote rose over the years, transforming the women's electoral case into a nationwide popular movement, where it was in the beginning more of a capital phenomenon. The women organized several organizations where the Danish Women's Society was the first Danish women's movement, founded in 1871. In 1886, Fredrik and Matilde Bajer founded the Radical Female Progress Association, the first pure electoral organization, in protest against the moderate course Danish Women's Community had to include The question of voting rights for women.

In 1886, the left-oriented politician Fredrik Bajer put forward a bill on the local voting rights of women. The right-oriented Parliament was against the bill and it was therefore rejected time after time after having been adopted in the Folketing. The bill was helping to seriously start the debate on women's access to the Folketing. In connection with Fredrik Bajer's bill, Danish Women's Society and the Female Progress Association launched an electoral campaign, where they relied on the petition by voting doorbells, and in public meetings. 20,000 signatures were collected during the year, but the proposal was rejected by the right-oriented Parliament in the Rigsdag.

To promote cooperation between the Danish Women's Society and the Female Progress Association, together with several professional women's associations in the 1890 umbrella organization, they formed the total women's associations, the purpose of which was the social and political equality with men. The alliance made it possible to hold mass meetings, including the, Attended about 10,000 people.

When the draft law on local elections was tabled for the Rigsdag, it was approved every time in the Folketing, but voted down in the position of the right-oriented Rigsdag. This lockdown situation, which resulted in a lack of political results, meant that after 1890 followed years of stagnation, and both the Female Progress Association and the Danish Women's electoral Association went on their own. In 1898, the Danish Women's Associations ' Electoral Committee was founded, and from 1904, several independent women's electoral associations were formed. Women's associations joined in 1907 together in the umbrella organization of the National Association for Women's suffrage, which included around 12,000 members. This country's confederation fought for women's right to vote, they wrote the call for women's demands for political suffrage into the purpose clause and fought to get women's electoral rights on an equal footing with other associations by giving lectures and protest meetings, sending requests to The Swedish Parliament and participate in the current newspaper debate. The municipal voting rights for women were adopted in 1908, after 11 tabled legislative proposals for 22 years. From 1913, the women's organizations received support from the Association of Men for Women's suffrage, and on 5 June 1915, a new constitution was approved, which gave full suffrage to women. To show the valued King and the Rigsdag acquisition of the right to vote, the representatives of women's organizations arranged a woman procession through Copenhagen on 5 June 1915, where 10,000 – 12,000 women participated, and a deputation of representatives from the women's electoral organizations handed over an address to the King and the Rigsdag, expressing women's appreciation of political suffrage


© 2019 Jakob Bach Jensen

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