As a teenager I was obsessed with the Suffragette movement. The kind of level of obsession that only teenage girls can seem to sustain. I read countless books, did online research and talked to anyone about it that would listen, or at least humour me. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why anyone would not be interested in this topic, especially if they were a woman, after all we had these courageous women to thank for the lives we now live today.
I may no longer be a teenager *sigh*, but to this day I am still passionate about women’s rights and honouring those women that gave up so much for us. When I heard that there was finally a film about the Suffragette movement, and one with such a star studded cast I jumped for joy. I didn’t even wait around to ask a friend to go with me, I set aside time in my diary and booked my ticket for when both girls were in school.
I found the whole film incredibly humbling, honestly, I practically sobbed through out it. It’s not as if the content was surprising to me, I knew of Emily Wilding Davidson and Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, I knew the militant lengths women went to and the consequences it had for them. I knew of the police brutality, the press vilification and social shunning. Yet, watching this film not as a zealous teenager but as a 30 something woman and mum of girls I was hit hard with what they gave up to gain rights that they themselves may not even see or benefit from. So often we see the movement through the eyes of middle class women such as the Pankhursts. To witness the effect that merely being associated with the movement would have had on working class women shocked me. For some reason I hadn’t fully grasped the sacrifice these women made. I guess viewing the movement through the eyes of a middle class woman 100 years on brings yet more emotion, maybe even guilt, to the fore. Women lost the right to be mothers to their own children, and that was something I hadn’t fully grasped or acknowledged before.
I felt hugely privileged sat in the cinema by myself. The life I lead is worlds apart to the life led by Carie Mulligan’s character, Maud. I am not owned by my husband, myself and my children are not his property, I have a voice that is, for the most part, heard and I have rights to exercise. It wasn’t just the vote that these women so passionately wanted it was the rights that would come with it.
I may be a long way from the life led by so many women 100 years ago but yet I don’t think this means that it’s over. That we can sit back and say job well done, rest on our laurels and take it all for granted. There are still massive inequalities in society across the world, even in this country when it comes to equal pay for example. This film has reignited my passion for social justice, I’ve become too comfortable and apathetic about so much. It’s time I channeled some of that teenage passion into my 30 something year old self.