The beginning of the nineteenth-century saw an upsurge in popular thinking to ideals of womanhood centred on the ‘angel of the hearth’. Although practically it was impossible to banish women entirely from the public sphere, this popular cultural thinking separated the world into public and private, with the public domain being the realm of men and the private domestic setting of the home being the realm of women. Implicit within this ideology were attitudes to women in Parliament, and their exclusion from electoral politics appeared to support the thinking that women ought not to be involved in political life. Inherently patriarchal in every way, Parliament was a building designed to uphold a political system characterised by male supremacy, with language, manners and practices which were also largely inaccessible to women. However, if we consider particular sites in Parliament though the lenses offered by feminist geography and spatial theory, it is possible to map a different narrative that challenges these cultural ideologies and perceives spaces of subversion and potential in which women were able to conceive of a nascent female political subjectivity, marking the emergence of a female narrative within this traditionally patriarchal and dominant space that developed across the long nineteenth-century.
Amy Galvin completed her PhD at the University of Warwick in February 2020. Her research interests include nineteenth-century politics, the literature of protest, and the history of female emancipation. She currently teaches English in Warwickshire.
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