In the United States, women’s suffrage activists always called themselves suffragists not suffragettes. This was because anti-suffrage forces used the term “suffragette” in an effort to diminish the work of suffragists – making them sound like “little suffragettes.” American suffragettes found the term derogatory and refused to use it.
The term first became widely used in England were a reporter from The Daily Mail coined it in 1906 to describe the members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). In response, many British suffragists adopted the term and used it widely. The WSPU even named their newspaper The Suffragette. They saw this as the best way to address the problem and counter the anti-suffrage forces.
What do you think? Which strategy works best – or do they both work but in different ways? Activists for any cause face this dilemma and respond differently to this day.