Thursday, 8 October 2015

Suffragette and playing at feminism

I'm very excited about seeing the film Suffragette. I'm less excited about the views of on of its stars.

For some reason, very little about the suffragettes has ever made it onto film.

The only well-known suffragette on screen until now, as has been widely reported recently, was Mrs Banks, who if she hadn't had such an efficient nanny in Mary Poppins would probably have been guilty of child neglect (an accusation that was regularly levelled at the suffragettes).

By Ch. Chusseau-Flaviens [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Had there been a little more cinematic attention paid to some of the incredible stories of these women who campaigned and suffered so that their daughters could be allowed a say in law making in this country, then maybe more women today would understand the importance and the sacrifices made for their right to vote, and take advantage of it.

Playing at feminism

Sadly, the woman playing Emmeline Pankhurst onscreen has revealed that she really was just playing at feminism.

Time Out magazine asked Meryl Streep if she was a feminist. She replied: "I am a humanist, I am for nice easy balance."

Streep San Sebastian 2008 by Andreas Tai.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

"Nice, easy balance"

That's the problem with us feminists (and with the suffragettes). We're all so damn uptight.

What exactly does Streep think feminism is? It's equality between men and women. Or "balance" if you prefer. It's just that it's not been "nice and easy" to achieve.

It took women chaining themselves to railings, force feeding, and in the case of Emily Wilding Davison, a violent death. And that was just to get the vote. Equal pay, an end to forced marriage, FGM - there are plenty more battles to be fought.

Humanism is lovely. It's a philosophy that focuses on reason and respect for other human beings. It doesn't act as a barrier to feminism. You don't have to be one or the other, you can easily be both.

I hate this fear of feminism, this distancing that women do, like feminism has a bad name.

If a high profile, talented woman like Meryl Streep, who has just made a lot of money from dressing up and strutting about as one of the most famous feminists, insists on distancing herself from feminism, then what hope is there for feminism to be able to continue its work of building equality between men and women?

What would Emmeline Pankhurst have made of the woman who played her, who just wants "a nice, easy balance"?

Suffragettes in the news

I'm loving the amount of coverage the suffragettes are currently getting in the media. Here is some good stuff:

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