Skip to main content

“Virtually a Victory”: The Australian Woman’s Sphere and the Mainstream Press During Vida Goldstein’s 1903 Federal Candidature

  • 135 Accesses

Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media book series (PSHM)

Abstract

Vida Goldstein was one of the first women in the world to stand for national election on equal footing with men in Australia in 1903. Her feminist newspaper, The Australian Woman’s Sphere (1900–1905), documents much of her political campaign but also reveals a remarkable interplay with the mainstream press. This chapter explores how white women and men negotiated the sudden shared space of a Federal election through the way two newspapers from the potent world of the Melbourne press, The Age and The Argus, portrayed and misrepresented Goldstein’s aims and policies. Examining the reactions to her candidature and the controversies surrounding her campaign, including the “fiscal question” and the “ticket” problem, and her own responses, provides insights into the unexplored interaction between the three newspapers. While exposing gender inequality and discrimination, the dialogue between Goldstein’s newspaper and the two dominant dailies reflects the voices and experiences of the first-wave feminist movement, and its detractors, during a moment of major social and political transformation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD   119.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD   159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions

Notes

  1. 1.

    The Commonwealth Franchise Act of 1902 passed the right to vote and stand for election to white women at the same time as legislating against Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal women were originally included in the 1895 franchise in the colony of South Australia where Aboriginal men already had voting rights, “by default” from manhood suffrage, from 1856 as they did also in Victoria in 1857 and New South Wales in 1858 (and later in Tasmania in 1896): Julie Evans, Patricia Grimshaw, David Phillips and Shurlee Swain, Equal Subjects, Unequal Rights: Indigenous People in British Settler Colonies, 1830s–1910 (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2003), 69–70.

  2. 2.

    On the respective parliamentary debates and passing of legislation in Adelaide in 1894 and Melbourne in 1903, see Audrey Oldfield, Woman Suffrage in Australia: A Gift or a Struggle? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 38–39, 63–66. The “New Woman” emerged as a term from Britain in Australia and suggested a new generation of women confronting gender relations and the stereotypes of nurturers and carers. It came to represent a “new” woman emerging in the “New Nation”. See: Susan Magarey, “History, cultural studies, and another look at first-wave feminism in Australia”, Australian Historical Studies 27, no. 106 (1996): 96–110 [online]; Clare Wright, You Daughters of Freedom (Melbourne: Text Publishing Company, 2018), 133; Marilyn Lake, Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and Transpacific Exchange Shaped American Reform (Cambridge, MA, & London, 2019), 149.

  3. 3.

    Sue Tracey, “Anderson, Selina Sarah (Senie) (1878–1964)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 2005) http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/anderson-selina-sarah-senie-12773/text23043 (accessed January 25, 2019); Margaret Bettison, “Martel, Ellen Alma (Nellie) (1865–1940)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 2005) http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/martel-ellen-alma-nellie-13081 (accessed January 25, 2019); Margaret Bettison, “Ling, Mary (1865–1943)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 2005) http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ling-mary-13048 (accessed January 25, 2019).

  4. 4.

    Vida Goldstein, “The Senate Election” The Australian Woman’s Sphere, January 15, 1904, p. 392. The four candidates who won the seats were William Trenwith (102,384), Robert Best (97,693), Edward Findley (88,614) and James Styles (85,382). Those who polled less than Goldstein were Sir B. O’Loghlen (27,170), G. H. Wise (21,056) and H. R. Williams (19,061).

  5. 5.

    Vida Goldstein, “The Australian Woman in Politics”, Review of Reviews, January 20, 1904, p. 49.

  6. 6.

    Vida Goldstein, “The Senate Election”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, January 15, 1904, p. 392. There were earlier cases of women being elected into political roles, but as Norman MacKenzie notes, Goldstein was virtually the first to do so in a “constituted national legislature”: Norman MacKenzie, ‘Vida Goldstein: The Australian Suffragette’, Australian Journal of Politics and History 6, no. 2 (1960): 190.

  7. 7.

    “Women in Parliament”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10, 1903, p. 347. Women’s organisations at this time include the Women’s Federal Political Association, the United Council for Women’s Suffrage, Women’s Christian Temperance Union (Victoria) and the Political Labour Council (Women’s branch).

  8. 8.

    Wright, You Daughters of Freedom, 141.

  9. 9.

    ‘Australian Historical Population Statistics’, Historical Population, Australian Bureau of Statistics, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/population/historical-population/latest-release (accessed April 1, 2021).

  10. 10.

    James Keating, Distant Sisters: Australasian Women and the International Struggle for the Vote, 1880–1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020), 142.

  11. 11.

    The four months that did not publish a “Received Subscriptions” column include the January 1901 issue, as well as the January, June and August issues in 1902. Columns and articles published between March 1901 and 10 June 1903 were dedicated to cataloguing those who donated to the “War Chest”, which supported the various causes of the newspaper, including financial support of the newspapers, the campaign to spread information on women’s voting rights and Goldstein’s tour of the United States. For example, see: “The War Chest”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, March, 1901, p. 55; “International Woman Suffrage Conference”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, January, 1902, p. 136; “Subscriptions to the American Delegates Fund”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, February 10, 1902, pp. 144–145; “Subscriptions and Donations to the Funds of the United Council for Women’s Suffrage for 1901”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, March 10, 1902, pp. 152–153; and “Women’s Sphere Fund to June 5”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, June 10, 1903, p. 316. On the selling of the newspaper through third parties, see: The Australian Woman’s Sphere, November, 1900, p. 24; “Business Notice”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, May 10, 1902, p. 168.

  12. 12.

    On Goldstein’s campaigns in 1903 but also 1910 and 1917 for the Senate, and 1913 and 1914 for the Victorian House of Representatives, see Janette M. Bomford, That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman (Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne Press, 1993), chapters 4, 6, 8 and 11.

  13. 13.

    See: Wright, You Daughters of Freedom, 134–160; Joy Damousi, “An absence of anything masculine: Vida Goldstein and women’s public speech”, Victorian Historical Journal 79, no. 1 (2008): 253; Marilyn Lake, Getting Equal: The History of Australian Feminism (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1999).

  14. 14.

    Oldfield, Woman Suffrage in Australia, 153–154.

  15. 15.

    Farley Kelly, “Vida Goldstein: Political Woman”, in Double Time: Women in Victoria—150 Years, ed. Marilyn Lake and Farley Kelly (Ringwood, Vic.: Penguin Books, 1985), 168–169, 173.

  16. 16.

    Bomford, That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman, 55–56, 63.

  17. 17.

    MacKenzie, “Vida Goldstein”: 192–193, 195, 200–201; Jenni Mulraney, “When Lovely Woman Stoops to Lobby”, Australian Feminist Studies 3, no. 7–8 (1988), 101–103.

  18. 18.

    Mulraney, “When Lovely Woman Stoops to Lobby”, 103–109.

  19. 19.

    MacKenzie, “Vida Goldstein”: 192–193.

  20. 20.

    MacKenzie, “Vida Goldstein”: 199.

  21. 21.

    Nina Rattner Gelbart, “Female Journalists”, in A History of Women in the West: III Renaissance and Enlightenment Paradoxes, ed. Natalie Zemon Davis and Arlette Farge (Cambridge, MA, and London, 1993), 420–435; Elizabeth Mallet, cited in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage, ed., History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. I. 1848–1861 (2nd edn, Rochester, NY: Charles Mann, 1889), 43.

  22. 22.

    Keating, Distant Sisters, 136.

  23. 23.

    Jane Chapman, Gender, Citizenship and Newspapers: Historical and Transnational Perspectives (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 64.

  24. 24.

    Chapman, Gender, Citizenship and Newspapers: 135–136.

  25. 25.

    John Mercer, “Making the News: Votes for Women and the Mainstream Press”, Media History 10, no. 3 (2004): 190.

  26. 26.

    Chapman, Gender, Citizenship and Newspapers, 16–17.

  27. 27.

    Katherine E. Kelly, “Seeing Through Spectacles: The Woman Suffrage Movement and London Newspapers, 1906–13”, European Journal of Women’s Studies 11, no. 3 (2004): 329.

  28. 28.

    Sarah Pedersen, The Scottish Suffragettes and the Press (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 192.

  29. 29.

    Pedersen, The Scottish Suffragettes and the Press, 12.

  30. 30.

    Elizabeth V. Burt, “The Wisconsin Press and Woman Suffrage, 1911–1919: An Analysis of Factors Affecting Coverage by Ten Diverse Newspapers”, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 73, no. 3 (1996), 620.

  31. 31.

    Burt, “The Wisconsin Press and Woman Suffrage”: 629.

  32. 32.

    Nancy Fraser, Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse, and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), 122–137. Refer also to the arguments of Marilyn Waring on gender analysis: Marilyn Waring, If Women Counted: A New Feminist Economics (San Francisco Harper & Row, 1988).

  33. 33.

    New South Wales (1918), Queensland (1918), Western Australia (1920), Tasmania (1921) and Victoria (1923): see Oldfield, Woman Suffrage in Australia, 15, 222–223.

  34. 34.

    Goldstein was commissioned by the Victorian Government, the Criminology Society and the Trades Hall Council to enquire into child neglect, the penal system, and the trade unions, respectively, during her trip: Bomford, That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman, 33; Wright, You Daughters of Freedom, 100.

  35. 35.

    Bomford, That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman, 52.

  36. 36.

    Vida Goldstein, To America and Back: A lecture by Vida Goldstein, prepared by Jill Roe (Sydney: Australian History Museum, 2002), 25.

  37. 37.

    Goldstein, To America and Back: 25–26.

  38. 38.

    Wright, You Daughters of Freedom, 160.

  39. 39.

    Elizabeth Morrison, “David Syme’s role in the rise of the Age”, Victorian Historical Journal 84, no. 1 (2013): 27–30.

  40. 40.

    David Dunstan, “The Argus: The life, death and remembering of a great Australian newspaper”, in The Argus: The Life and Death of a Great Melbourne Newspaper (1846–1957), ed. Muriel Porter, 3–15 (Melbourne, Vic.: RMIT Publishing, 2003), 7.

  41. 41.

    Dunstan, “The Argus”, 9.

  42. 42.

    Vida Goldstein, “The Australian Woman in Politics”, Review of Reviews, January 20, 1904, p. 48.

  43. 43.

    “Subscriptions Received Up To September 5th 1902”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10, 1902, p. 207. Subscription numbers ceased to be published from 1903.

  44. 44.

    “Woman’s Sphere”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10, 1903, p. 342.

  45. 45.

    For more on women’s negotiation in the newsroom, see Jean Marie Lutes, Front Page Girls: Women Journalists in American Culture and Fiction, 1880–1930 (New York: Cornell University Press, 2006).

  46. 46.

    “Woman’s Sphere”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, August 10, 1903, p. 329.

  47. 47.

    “The Women’s Federal Political Association”, Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10, 1903, p. 343.

  48. 48.

    “Women in Parliament”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10, 1903, pp. 346–347.

  49. 49.

    “The Town Hall Meeting”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10, 1903, p. 343.

  50. 50.

    “Organisation for the Federal Campaign”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, June 10, 1903, p. 310.

  51. 51.

    “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: Various Views”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10 1903, p. 344.

  52. 52.

    The New York Sun, cited in “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: Various Views Continued, No. 3”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, November 10, 1903, p. 369.

  53. 53.

    “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: Various Views”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10 1903, p. 344.

  54. 54.

    For background on the union’s transnational span at this time, see Lake, Progressive New World, 140–146.

  55. 55.

    “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: Various Views.”

  56. 56.

    “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: Various Views”; “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: Various Views, No. II”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, October 10, 1903, p. 357.

  57. 57.

    Miss L. M. Smith, cited in “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: Various Views Continued, No. 3”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, November 10, 1903, p. 369.

  58. 58.

    “The WCTU and Miss Goldstein’s Candidature”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, December 5, 1903, p. 385.

  59. 59.

    “Women in Parliament”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10, 1903, pp. 346–47.

  60. 60.

    Fair Play, “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: To the Editor of the Argus”, The Argus, August 8, 1903, p. 16; “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: Various Views”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10, 1903, p. 344.

  61. 61.

    “The Age”, The Age, August 22, 1903, p. 10; “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: Various Views”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10, 1903, p. 344.

  62. 62.

    “The Age”, The Age, August 22, 1903, p. 10.

  63. 63.

    The Reformer, October 15, 1903, cited in “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: Various Views Continued, No. 4”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, December 5, 1903, p. 381.

  64. 64.

    “Women Candidates for Parliament: Are they eligible?”, The Argus, August 5, 1903, p. 5; “The Age”, The Age, August 22, 1903, p. 10. See also Mulraney, “When Lovely Woman Stoops to Lobby”, 101–103.

  65. 65.

    “From Some Prominent Women”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, December 5, 1903, p. 385.

  66. 66.

    “Women Candidates for Parliament: Are they eligible?”, The Argus, August 5, 1903, p. 5.

  67. 67.

    “A Lady Candidate: Social and Domestic Legislation”, The Age, November 14, 1903, p. 12.

  68. 68.

    “The Senate: Miss Goldstein at Prahran”, The Argus, November 14, 1903, p. 16.

  69. 69.

    “A Lady Candidate: Social and Domestic Legislation”, The Age, November 14, 1903, p. 12.

  70. 70.

    “The Senate: Miss Goldstein at Prahran”, The Argus, November 14, 1903, p. 16.

  71. 71.

    “A Lady Candidate: Social and Domestic Legislation”, The Age, November 14, 1903, p. 12.

  72. 72.

    “The Senate: Miss Goldstein at Prahran”, The Argus, November 14, 1903, p. 16.

  73. 73.

    Vida Goldstein, “Should Woman Enter Politics”, Review of Reviews, August 20, 1903, p. 135.

  74. 74.

    “Why Women Want the Vote: Address by Rose Scott’, The Argus, July 10, 1903, p. 3.

  75. 75.

    “Why Women Need to Vote. Paper By Miss Rose Scott’, The Age, July 4, 1903, p. 12.

  76. 76.

    “Opinions of Federal Candidates on Federal Politics”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, October 10, 1903, p. 360.

  77. 77.

    “A Lady Candidate: Social and Domestic Legislation”, The Age, November 14, 1903, p. 12.

  78. 78.

    “The Senate Candidates: Miss Goldstein in Melbourne”, The Age, November 17, 1903, p. 6.

  79. 79.

    “Miss Goldstein’s Fiscal Faith”, The Age, November 24, 1903, p. 6.

  80. 80.

    “The Senate: Miss Goldstein’s Fiscal Faith”, The Age, November 25, 1903, p. 8.

  81. 81.

    “Miss Goldstein’s Fiscal Faith”, The Age, November 26, 1903, p. 6.

  82. 82.

    Australian Woman’s Sphere, “Woman’s Sphere”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, December 5, 1903, p. 377.

  83. 83.

    “Miss Goldstein at Leongatha”, The Argus, November 26, 1903, p. 6.

  84. 84.

    “Women and Party Politics”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, July 10, 1903, p. 322.

  85. 85.

    “Close Up the Ranks”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, December 5, 1903, p. 383.

  86. 86.

    “The Tyranny of the Ticket”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, January 15, 1904, p. 394–95.

  87. 87.

    The Avoca Free Press, cited in “Miss Goldstein’s Candidature: Various Views, Conclusion”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, January 15, 1904, p. 393.

  88. 88.

    “Whom to Vote For: Liberal Candidate, The Senate”, The Age, December 5, 1903, p. 11.

  89. 89.

    “Senate Ballot-Paper: How to Mark It”, The Argus, December 16, 1903, p. 8.

  90. 90.

    “‘The Age’ and the Election”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, December 5, 1903, p. 382.

  91. 91.

    “‘The Age’ and the Election”; “Woman’s Sphere”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, September 10, 1903, p. 341.

  92. 92.

    “The Tyranny of the Ticket”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, January 15, 1904, p. 394–395.

  93. 93.

    “Wanted—A New Party!”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, February 15, 1904, p. 406.

  94. 94.

    “Hints to Women Voters”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, October 10 1903, p. 355.

  95. 95.

    The Australian Woman’s Sphere, October 1903, p. 356.

  96. 96.

    “Opinions of Federal Candidates on Federal Politics”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, August 1903, p. 335.

  97. 97.

    “The World Moves”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, August 1902, p. 194.

  98. 98.

    Vida Goldstein, “The Political Woman in Australia”, The Nineteenth Century and After: A Monthly Review 56, no. 329 (1904): 109.

  99. 99.

    “Women’s Federal Political Association”, The Australian Woman’s Sphere, March 15, 1904, p. 419.

  100. 100.

    “The State Elections: Women’s Vote Organising”, The Age, March 8, 1904, p. 5.

  101. 101.

    Vida Goldstein, “Women’s Political Association: To the Editor of The Age”, The Age, March 9, 1904, p. 6.

  102. 102.

    “Federal Elections Polling Day: Heavy Women’s Vote. Many Seats Still in Doubt. Melbourne Contest Uncertain. Break Down of Counting Arrangements”, The Age, December 17, 1903, p. 5.

  103. 103.

    Vida Goldstein, “The Australian Woman in Politics”, Review of Reviews, January 20, 1904, p. 49.

  104. 104.

    Voter percentages were: 47% New South Wales (women 41%, men 53%); 55% Queensland (women 45%, men 62%); 33% South Australia (women 23%, men 42%); 45% Tasmania (women 34%, men 55%); 51% Victoria (women 46%, men 57%); 28% Western Australia (women 15%, men 36%): Department of Social Services, Australian Government, Our Centenary of Suffrage, July, 2009. https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/women/publications-articles/general/our-centenary-of-womens-suffrage (accessed November 11, 2020).

  105. 105.

    Julia Gillard, Speech, House of Representatives, Australian Parliament, October 10, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNuPcf8L00 (accessed July 10, 2020).

Acknowledgement

The authors of this chapter would like to thank the University of Southern Queensland’s Office of Research for a Summer Scholarship awarded to Natasha Walker in support of writing the early stages of this chapter.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Catherine Dewhirst .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Walker, N., Dewhirst, C. (2021). “Virtually a Victory”: The Australian Woman’s Sphere and the Mainstream Press During Vida Goldstein’s 1903 Federal Candidature. In: Dewhirst, C., Scully, R. (eds) Voices of Challenge in Australia’s Migrant and Minority Press. Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-67330-7_10

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-67330-7_10

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-67329-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-67330-7

  • eBook Packages: HistoryHistory (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics