Lady Florence Dixie - Politics and Feminism

Politics and Feminism

Dixie was an enthusiastic writer of letters to newspapers on liberal and progressive issues, including support for Irish Home Rule. Her article The Case of Ireland was published in Vanity Fair on 27 May 1882. Nevertheless, she was critical of the Irish Land League and the Fenians, who in 1883 made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate her. As a result, Queen Victoria sent her servant John Brown to investigate.

Dixie held strong views on the emancipation of women, proposing that the sexes should be equal in marriage and divorce, that the Crown should be inherited by the monarch's oldest child, regardless of sex, and even that men and women should wear the same clothes. She was a member of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, and her obituary in the Englishwoman's Review emphasized her support for the cause of women's suffrage (i.e. the right to vote): "Lady Florence... threw herself eagerly into the Women's Movement, and spoke on public platforms."

In 1890, Dixie published a utopian novel, Gloriana, or the Revolution of 1900, which has been described as a feminist fantasy. In it, women win the right to vote, as the result of the protagonist, Gloriana, posing as a man, Hector l'Estrange, and being elected to the House of Commons. The character of l'Estrange is clearly based on that of Oscar Wilde. The book ends in the year 1999, with a description of a prosperous and peaceful Britain governed by women. In the preface to the novel, Dixie proposes not only women's suffrage, but that the two sexes should be educated together and that all professions and positions should be open to both. In this preface, she goes farther and says:

Nature has unmistakeably given to woman a greater brain power. This is at once perceivable in childhood... Yet man deliberately sets himself to stunt that early evidence of mental capacity, by laying down the law that woman's education shall be on a lower level than that of man's... I maintain to honourable gentlemen that this procedure is arbitrary and cruel, and false to Nature. I characterise it by the strong word of Infamous. It has been the means of sending to their graves unknown, unknelled, and unnamed, thousands of women whose high intellects have been wasted, and whose powers for good have been paralysed and undeveloped.

During the 1890s, Dixie's views on field sports changed dramatically, and in her book The Horrors of Sport (1891) she condemned blood sports as cruel.

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