Suffragette shows Maud Watts, a simple 24-year-old girl. Wife, mother to George, works in a laundry. Has been since she was 7 years old, her mother worked there until she died when Maud was only four years old. She doesn't think about votes for women, even when people at her work place try to get her involved. She doesn't think about what would happen if women did get the right of voting. There is no point because in Maud's mind it is never going to happen. That is until Violet gets asked to be the woman from the laundry who gives her story in parliament to show things from a woman's side. Violet is threatened at work about going, she decides to go with her. When Violet arrives she has been beaten, can not go on. Maud is asked to read Violet's story from the paper, but instead she is asked for her story. Which she gives as best she can.
Maud doesn't think of herself as a suffragette, doesn't want to be one. After giving her story she becomes slightly more interested in the cause. Going along with hundreds of other women to hear the verdict. When votes have been rejected yet again, the police start hitting women because they will not disperse fast enough. Maud stands up for her friend who is hit, ends up hit and arrested herself with six other women. A week in prison before she is allowed to go home to Mr Watts who isn't at all happy at her actions. Even that is not enough to keep Maud away from meetings, or from going to a rally to hear the legendary leader of the rebellion Emmeline Pankhurst. Thinking about what would happen to her daughter if she had one. What kind of life the poor child would be facing. When she is arrested a second time, her husband throws her out for embarrassing him leaving her nowhere else to go other than to the cause. Getting herself deeper and deeper into things.
Growing up as a woman, I was always aware of women's rights struggles in the past. Knew little bits about bras being burned, and women getting arrested for the right to vote. A right I never really paid much attention to, or my rights as a woman. I never paid too much attention to any of the equal rights battles going on around me, it was easier to leave that to other people then get involved myself. That is until I found myself in a chokehold relationship with a man for eight years. Three of them where I was trying to escape, but I never quite could. Being told if my man had hit me then there must be a reason for it. Yes, even in this day and age that is still said. When I found that the police didn't pay much attention to an ex stalking you around town if you were a woman, because you must have provoked him or been provocative in some manner. In the end I did get out, but it wasn't easy. Shelters only hold priority beds for mothers with children or teenage girls, if you are a young single woman then you are expected to fend for yourself. As such I spent a while homeless before I found a way to home myself again, dipping into extreme debts on an overdraft to survive.
After this I started showing a lot more interest in equality, and not just for women. For LGBTQ, for people of colour, different religions and so on. My eyes were opened up suddenly to the fact that for all the talk of equal rights and treating everyone the same we are so far away from equality still we are not much better than the ignorant fools who said women were too weak to know how to vote! Yes we have taken great steps forward, blacks and whites no longer sit apart to eat. LGBTQ people can now legally marry in a large amount of the world. Votes for women in the Arab states are being promised. That doesn't mean there isn't still hatred, doesn't mean that all people are treated fairly.
When I saw Maud, and other girls being felt up in the laundry by the owner, just because they were women. I know how that feels. To this day working in bars the customers feel that they have a right to touch me just because I serve. 2016 and women are still seen as a sexual object just because they wait tables, that a quick feel of your breasts or a slap of your rear is perfectly acceptable. Surely we are better than that in 2016?
It seems to me that we are further from equality than ever before even with the great advances. I have overheard female bar staff who happily flirt with men every single shift, go out back and complain they feel dirty just because a gay woman made a comment her server was beautiful. Not even a sleazy comment like men make, just a hello sweetie, you are beautiful. The latest batch of ISIS attacks meaning normal people are hating on ALL muslims like they are a sickness. Refusing to serve them in shops, asking them to leave just because of who they are. Gays being harassed, bullied to the point they want to take their own lives. Transgender children killed because they choose to express the gender they are inside. While people are scared to leave their homes, while kids are scared to go to school for fear of being bullied, while people fear going to work knowing they will be sexually assaulted, while women and men can't dress how they want to, while religion is a filthy subject no one dares approach, while a head scarf worn is seen as an act of war, while people are scared to say they love the people they do because they share the same gender. While people are scared to dance in a nightclub of their own people without being murdered. Then none of us will ever be truly free.
Don’t be fooled ladies and gentlemen, the battle was won, but the war still continues. Take this movie to be what it is, a wake up call. We are passed the point now of fighting for gay rights, or religious freedom, or women's rights. We are fighting for complete and total equality for ALL members of the human race. We either stand together, or fall apart. Equality still needs to be fought by each and every single one of us or none of us will ever be free. For those of you who feel oppressed, look back at all the battles we have already fought. Your change is going to come, and soon. Keep strong. Remember, you ARE important! You are special! And you would be missed!
Sarah Beth James
First seen on The Cinemarks