Mary Maloney

Mary Maloney

(1884-1921) 

DJ Name: Maloney Bologna 

OK, ladies, you know when you’re just trying to enjoy your time at the bar with your gal pals and the men just won’t buzz off? Well, Mary Maloney knew the feeling all too well. The bug that wouldn’t buzz off in her situation was a lad called Winston Churchill, and she took to following him around to his various speaking engagements as he ran for a seat in Parliament, toting around a small bell that she could ring incessantly when Winnie refused to apologize for his lack of support for the women’s suffrage movement in the United Kingdom.

When she wasn’t giving her bell a little ring-a-ding-ding and busying herself with calling out powerful dudes, she could be found jamming to this playlist and writing strongly worded letters to her UK representatives, which you can do too! No bell needed, just type in your zip code!

Unfortunately, not a ton is known about our Historic Shufflette Suffragette, Mary Maloney, and she most def deserves better. Wikipedia can’t even decide what the correct spelling of her name is. Mary was born apparently as Dorothy James Maloney (or Moloney?) in Ireland on some day in 1884, and she grew up to be a hard-headed woman who worked her tush off for women’s rights and joined the Women’s Freedom League, leading peaceful protests for women’s right to vote and sexual equality in the UK throughout the early 1900s.

For a quick little herstory lesson diversion, the women’s rights movement really began to gather steam (power) (and not just because it began as the Industrial Revolution was ending) in the 1860s in the UK. In 1866, a number of leading ladies scrounged up about 1,500 signatures on a petition to Parliament requesting the right to vote. “Please, sir, can we have some more (votes)?” it read, allegedly. Some prominent dudes had scrawled their John Hancock (what’s the British version of a John Hancock?) on the petition, including John Stuart Mill, who’d successfully gained a Parliament seat after running on a platform that included a woman’s right to cast a ballot. Respect. From that period until the early 1900s, not much headway was made in the women’s rights movement, but things started to turn around in 1918, when women won limited suffrage, and again in 1928, when the majority of British women gained the right.

So now enter Mary, who became most famous in 1908 during the elections in Dundee, Scotland. A random lad by the name of Winston Churchill was running for Parliament. OK, we all know Winnie. So, he was 34 and back for more as he was hoping to regain a Parliamentary seat (and a fresh wig). In Dundee, the Liberal Member of Parliament vacated his seat, so Churchill faced off at the polls against Unionist Sir David Baxter, G. H. Stuart of the Labour Party and Edwin Scrymgeour of the Scotland Prohibition Party, which as you probably guessed right, promoted the prohibition of alcohol. 

As Winston Chuchill stepped up to the mic and said, “I’d like to thank God. Because God gave me this you, Dundee. And I feel God in Chile’s Dundee tonight,” he was abruptly cut off by the tolling of a bell. Neither from a church tower nor a school, Churchill was silenced before attempting to proceed with a speech. Then again, the bong of a bell at the sound of his voice. “For whom does the bell toll, Mr. Churchill? It tolls for thee,” Shufflette Suffragette Maloney said (allegedly) as she showed up from London in Dundee to Churchill’s meeting with workmen at a large factory. The London Evening News wrote, “Miss Molony, an Irish Suffragist, appeared on the scene in a carriage, and began to drown the speaker’s voice with a hand-bell. She declared that the Liberal candidate should not address an open-air meeting in Dundee until he had apologised for some recent remarks about women politicians. For some time Mr. Churchill struggled good-humouredly against the bell, but at last he gave up the effort in despair, saying, “If she thinks that is a reasonable argument she may use it. I don’t care. I bid you good afternoon.”

As she muted Churchill time and again with her bell, Mary called attention to the women who had been silenced for decades by men in power who kept them voteless yet not voiceless. Again and again she said “Imma let you finish, but what if you stood up for the ladies in your life?” She followed Churchill around for a full week. He would show up to a speaking engagement, ready, before he heard the toll of the bell and thought, “is this deja vu?” at the sound of Mary as she chanted from her carriage, “Who is the strongest — an Irish woman or Mr. Winston Churchill?” Mary Maloney was here!, there! and every f*ckingwhere! Mary Maloneyyy! (Ted Lasso fans will know). Literally though, just a few months later Maloney made her way to the top of the Richard the Lionheart statue outside Westminster where she delivered another speech on the importance of women’s suffrage. Mary made the news for many of her bold moves and was arrested, but never actually served prison time. 

Not much else is known of Mary other than she passed away in December of 1921. Though Churchill won the Parliamentary seat in Dundee after the 1908 by-election, Mary’s ring-a-ling-ding made noise that rippled beyond the Scottish town into the papers which shed light on the growing women’s suffrage movement. Maloney made herstory time and again with her fearless suffragette spirit and did so with a little fun along the way. Who wouldn’t want to ring a bell when Churchill tried to speak? 

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