Movies: Suffragette (2015)

“What you gonna do? Lock us all up? We’re in every home, we’re half the human race, you can’t stop us all.”


Do you know what I studied in school? Triangles. Lots and lots of triangles. Angles, cosines, tangents. Right angled and isosceles. Squares and rectangles too, and oh my god, the endless circles!

Never used diddly of it, to be honest. The same with the volume of a cylinder and all that sum-of-the-square-on-the-two-side stuff.

You know what I didn’t study? Women in history. I did nothing on Suffragettes. Not a day or even a lesson on them. I didn’t know any of their names, I didn’t know what they were fighting for. I didn’t even know they were fighting. I didn’t know they wore white (That goes for all women, not just suffragettes: I’d never heard of Lisa Meitner until this year either).

I found out later – vaguely – that there was a woman named Pankhurst. And another woman threw herself under a horse once. Something called “The Cat and Mouse Act”. That was it.

So where does Suffragette come in to this?

In a 106 minute blast, I learned more about these women and what their lives were like than I learned in ten years of education. How they were regarded as too stupid to vote, how their rights were non-existent in the workplace, in the home, in society. A whole section of society weren’t even counted on the ten-year census.

In one scene, the women are protesting legally outside the Houses of Parliament. Brutally, the police move in to break the protest up. I thought they made that scene up, but no….that did happen. On the orders of the Home Secretary, one Winston Churchill, no less. (For a more in depth look at Churchill’s complex relationship with suffrage:

The men in this world are for the most part, useless (and of course antagonistic), but it’s not their story anyway. The main character leaves her husband and son behind, the husband complaining that he can’t look after their child and work at the same time…even though he expects her to. In a heart-breaking scene, he actually sells their son to another family because he can’t manage.

A woman is introduced named Emily Davison. If I’d studied anything about women in history, I would have known her fate instantly. I would probably know her face and when she was born. But I knew nothing about her until she threw herself under the Kings horse.

As a comparison, if the name of a character in a movie set in World War Two was “Robert Oppenheimer” I would have known where they were going with it from the first introduction.

Poster by ‘A Patriot’, showing a suffragette prisoner being force-fed, 1910. A doctor pours liquid food down a tube which has been stuffed up the struggling suffragette’s nose, while prison officers hold her down and tie her legs to the chair.  (Photo by Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

The movie doesn’t pull any punches in its brutal treatment of these women, and nor should it. Women are arrested and stripped, and one is force fed through the nose, which is as horrific as it sounds and as bad it looks in that poster.

Women go through workplace abuse, societal abuse and home abuse (I wish they were all restricted to the past!) to fight for the right to be considered human beings.

You know what I studied in school? The wrong damn things.

2 thoughts on “Movies: Suffragette (2015)”

  1. Wow, I really need to watch this now! Love the way you wrote this too. Screw schools for teaching us such useless rubbish!

    I have a recommendation based on this review for you. Have you ever watched Hidden Figures? It’s about the unrecognised women of NASA, and not only were they women, but black women. GASP. They couldn’t possibly be given the limelight. How could those nerdy men swallow being outsmarted by someone they have double prejudice towards?! Anyway, very interesting film and I’m adding this one to my watch list!

    1. I’ve added Hidden Figures to my TBW list, thanks for reminding me about it!

      I know quite a bit about the space programme, but I’d never heard of these women (surprise, surprise!) until the movie came out.

      The women who wanted to become astronomers in the early 20th century had the same problem…none of the men would let them even near a telescope! All they could do was look at photos the men had taken.

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