IN 1869, CHARLES KINGSLEY wrote a review of John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women for Macmillan’s Magazine, praising its message about women’s fitness for participation in the political realm. He notes, ‘What women have done for the social reforms of the last forty years is known, or ought to be known, to all…. Who will say that Mrs Fry, or Miss Nightingale, or Miss Burdett Coutts, is not as fit to demand pledges of a candidate and the hustings on important social questions as any male elector?’ (Oct 1869: 558). In this way, he provided support for Mill’s argument in favour of women’s enfranchisement while at the same drawing attention to their ongoing influence in discussions of social and political questions – as recounted in and facilitated by the periodical press. Indeed, by 1869 women had been contributing to political discourse for many years, due largely to the convention of anonymity in most periodicals and newspapers. Hidden behind the ‘editorial we,’ women journalists did not have to write from gendered subject positions. The rapid expansion of the press during the same period, facilitated by advances in printing technology and reductions in the taxes on print, provided women with increased opportunities to enter the profession and contribute to political debates....
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