About a year ago, I had my fill of feminists trying to use the late 19th & early 20th century suffragette movement as means of guilt tripping nonfeminist women over our lack of support for their modern, man-hating and discriminatory law lobby. In response, I published a post titled Suffragettes Can’t Save Feminism. In it, I described the voting rights environment under which western suffragettes acted and explained why, rather than a struggle to free women from a system of gendered oppression, their actions were nothing but another example of feminism’s gendered approach to genderless issues. It is often passive-aggressively misconstrued by social justice ideologues as an argument that women shouldn’t have voting rights. When read without bias, however, it is clearly not. People of the nations discussed in that post deserved a unified fight for equal voting rights for all citizens regardless of sex, race, or economic background, and the suffragettes’ focus on gender denied them that fight.
Now, there’s a trailer out for a movie set to be released the day before Halloween. Once again, it appears that feminists are demanding that we view human experiences through a sexist filter that shows women and only women as victims, and only victims… and men as both gods and devils. The narrative the film looks made to support is the same one feminists currently promote. It treats women’s experiences and interests as more valid and more relevant than men’s, while attributing greater responsibility for their welfare to men than to themselves. The only redeeming factor I can see is that it doesn’t appear the film makers ignored suffragette violence.
Attack on Prime Minister Asquith 1913 [alt]
Attack on at King’s banquet hall [alt]
Murder attempt on Magistrate Curtiss Bennett [alt]
Horse-whipping doctor [alt]
Bombing & threat [alt]
Vandalism & bomb threat [alt]
Pankhurst bomb deal
Pankhurst describes suffragette arson and bombing
Even if the film acknowledges that violence, it appears to be mitigated by a portrayal designed to excuse it in the minds of the viewers, and a failure to also include upper class suffragette bigotry against minorities, the poor, and men.
In order to create the impression the film is made to instill, the makers seem to have ignored the list of suffragettes and suffragists involved in various nations’ movements in favor of creating a fictional character.
The film’s protagonist, a British suffragette named “Maud,” is described on suffragettemovie.com as one of a supposed majority of suffragettes who were, “working women who had seen peaceful protest achieve nothing” and were “radicalised and turning to violence as the only route to change” at great risk to themselves and their families. She is not to be mistaken for real-life American Suffragist Maud Wood Park, a college graduate and professional educator. Park’s work with the College Equal Suffrage League and the League of Women Voters involved canvassing, distributing leaflets, and public speaking, all in the interest of influencing policy makers through public opinion and public support. She’s known as a pioneer of this style, now described as a front door lobby to differentiate it from the often suspect direct-to-politicians approach which generally excludes the public from the process.
Nor should the film’s character Maud be confused with American women’s advocate, consumer advocate, educator and suffragist Maud Nathan, who researched the working conditions of women retail clerks and advocated for reform as president of the Consumers’ League of New York. Unlike the working class character, Maud Nathan hailed from an elite family.
Why couldn’t the makers of Suffragette, the film, find a real-life suffragette or even a group whose activism and experiences they could make the basis and center of their story? Were they emulating the method used by Erich Maria Remarque when writing All Quiet on the Western Front? It will be interesting to see when the film is released whether it will be an historically accurate portrayal of the suffragettes, or the manipulative sales pitch comprised of selective presentation, false framing, and emotional appeal at which its trailer hints.
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- Relational aggression and victim gender – a tale of two standards | HBR Talk 165 - January 14, 2021
- Antifeminism, relational aggression, and the men’s rights movement | HBR Talk 164 - January 7, 2021
- Update with Deborah Powney | HBR Talk 163 - December 31, 2020