Emmeline Pankhurst in prison
Just as importantly, It was a great date with my husband watching my idol (even though she appears very briefly). Spending some time sat side by side, taking a breather from our stresses.
I have been a major Meryl Streep fan since my formative teens. The first time I saw her was in the film Sophie's Choice in the early 1980's. She played a Polish immigrant in America who was made to chose between her son and daughter in Poland during the war. The child she chose was to be be sent to the children's camp leaving the other to be gassed. What a choice for any parent! It made a huge impression on me and began my Meryl Streep fan status. For those who have not seen the film be assured there are no spoilers included here and I would urge you to watch it.
Fact: women were only given the right to vote in Federal elections in Switzerland in 1971.
Meryl Steep as Emmeline Pankhurst
I pondered back over some of Meryl Streep's films : Kramer vs Kramer, Julie and Julia, Mamma Mia to name but a few. Meryl Streep has had a long and varied career as well as being a mother of four children. Whilst she often shies away from interviews in an attempt to keep her private life private she has often played strong independent women. I think she has been a great role model. Whilst she has avoided the label of feminist she has spoken out about sexism in the film industry and led the applause following a speech by Patricia Arquette at The Oscars demanding equal pay in Hollywood. I was interested to hear her comments when she was asked whether she is a feminist. She explained that she was married to a man and had a son and therefore did not want to exclude them from the debate. She elaborated that she was an advocate for women being seen as equal to men and had hopfully been a strong female role model.
This week has been very busy with Spanish tutorials, parents evening discussing important GCSE subjects, visiting my uncle who landed up in hospital with a suspected thrombosis added to the usual mix of family life. I was starting to feel a bit anxious about my pending F word blog. However, I am glad my husband and I stole some precious time away from our stresses to go and see the iconic Meryl Streep in The Suffragettes.
I will encourage all my children to see the film as I did with the Long walk to Freedom. I like Meryl Streep would call myself a humanist. It is the responsibilty of everyone to understand and take part in a fairer society. I also believe there is still a way to go with equal rights but it is not only women that are marginalised and many still need a voice.
The Suffragettes film premiered last week with a small but visible protest on the red carpet by Sisters Uncut. They are a direct action feminist group who were protesting against recent government cuts to domestic abuse services. I am sure Emmeline Pankhurst would have been proud that she has left a legacy of empowerement to women in causes that are pertinent to their lives.
The movement for women to have the vote had really started in 1897 when Millicent Fawcett founded the National Union of Women’s Suffrage. However, there was some seperation within the movement as some women became more militant, headed by Mrs Pankhurst. Emmeline Pankhurt's daughter, Christabel had studied law but was unable to practice as a lawyer due to her gender. However, her studies did come in handy as she represented herself and her mother in court. It was shocking to witness the horrors that the suffragettes suffered at the hands of the not only their menfolk, their bosses, the police but also other working-class women.
The Suffragettes reminded me of the film The Long Walk to Freedom that charted Nelson Mandela and the ANC's struggle against apartheid. It too had started as a peaceful protest movement but had found unfortunately that it needed to become more militant to have an effect.