How did suffragists use civil disobedience?

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boomer-sooner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Women's suffrage, the right to vote, is an example of how effective civil disobedience is when attempting to change social norms.  Prominent figures in the suffrage movement include Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and Lucy Stone.  Each aided the movement through civil disobedience, although Alice Paul is noted for being the most militant of the mentioned group.

The suffrage movement used civil disobedience to gain popularity.  Force was not a measure to be used because the leaders felt force demonstrations would be ended by men quickly and only endanger their cause to women who still viewed voting as a man's responsibility.  Demonstrations included parades, billboards, and picketing.  In 1917, the White House was picketed leading to the arrest of several members of the National Women's Party (NWP).  Their disobedience continued in jail where they went on a hunger strike.  Force feedings by correctional officers shocked the nation and brought more attention to the cause than any demonstration of force may have provided.   Other forms of civil disobedience had included voting before they had a legal right, mass mailings to elected officials and large gatherings without a permit.  The tactics were simple and effective because any retaliation would only aid their cause.