“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: https://tinyurl.com/y8mtcacu).
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.
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.