God and one woman make a majority

Josephine Butler (1828 - 1906) was one of the great reformers in 19th century England and one of the women I most admire.

She was an active feminist, campaigning for higher education for women. She is perhaps best known for her concern for the welfare of prostitutes, recognising them as victims of male oppression. She was highly critical of the double standards of Victorian sexual morality. She led the campaign for the repeal of the notorious Contagious Diseases Acts. She was also active in the campaign against child prostitution which led to the raising of the age of consent in the United Kingdom from 13 to 16 years.

She was a Christian, married to a clergyman. She once said that 
'God and one woman make a majority'.
Perhaps that was the secret of her determination to work tirelessly for reform.

There's a brief biography of Josephine Butler here.

Today is her commemoration day in the Church of England.

God of compassion and love,
by whose grace your servant Josephine Butler
followed in the way of your Son
in caring for those in need:
help us like her to work with strength
for the restoration of all to the dignity
and freedom of those created in your image;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(Collect for today from Common Worship)

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


  1. she sounds like my kind of woman! love that quote: God and one woman make a majority.. must remember that...
    PS: sorry if this appears twice, my comments still not working properly!

  2. Josephine Butler has been one of my heroines for a long time, but I hadn't come across that lovely quote from her. Thanks for blogging about her.

  3. Red - maybe one could say that God alone is a majority? Or of course 'God and one man'? Your comment only appeared once - I think Blogger automatically delete repeat comments.

    Perpetua - I haven't yet properly checked the source of that quotation - let me know if you find it. I used to be a social worker and I see Josephine Butler as one of the key people who laid the foundations of modern social work in the UK. Many people like her got dismissed as 'do-gooders' - but what's wrong with doing good - as long as it's not done in a condescending/patronising way?


Post a Comment