Suffragette

How strange that I usually don’t pay any attention to the pivotal moments of history, moments which typically include someone speaking out, thrusting new values into the lap of society, giving all they have to make life better.

I knew that the suffragettes worked hard in the early part of the twentieth century to secure the vote for women, and that they were successful.  How pale a view that is, lacking the spirit of the doers.  I saw the movie Suffragette this afternoon and I have been changed.

I virtually never think “I am a man” and consider the privileges that come with the label.  Men haven’t had to earn less than their female colleagues.  Women have.  By and large, men haven’t been sexually harassed in the workplace.  Women have.  Men have always been able to stroll into a polling station and vote.  Before 1920 or so, women were denied that opportunity.  It was deemed by many males that husbands, fathers and brothers could explain the realities of politics to women, who clearly didn’t have the smarts to figure it out themselves.  Oh my.

What sort of man would I have been during these troubling times?  I think one who didn’t see anyone as superior to anyone else, despite our different strengths.  Would I have been strong enough to resist the power of male culture?  I sure hope so.

The film had many incredible moments.  Here are four:

  1. The main character Maud is barred from her house (and her son) once her husband sees her identified as a suffragette in the newspaper.  Neighbour women just stare at her as she walks away.
  2. Sonny, Maud’s husband, gives up their son for adoption.  Maud has no rights as a parent.  As the adoptive couple are leaving the home with George, Maud looks him in the eye and basically says ” Your mother’s name is Maud Watts.  Find me when you’re older.”
  3. Maud goes on a hunger strike in prison.  We see her being held down, a tube inserted into her nose, and a milky fluid poured into a funnel.
  4. The suffragette played by Helena Bonham Carter has developed heart problems after years of protesting.  As the women organize to disrupt a horse race attended by the king of England, her husband locks her in a room, fearing that she will die during the event.

I need to see the courage of people who lived long ago
I need to see the courage of people who live today
I need to act courageously

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