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The film, ‘Suffragette’, starring Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan and Helena-Bonham-Carter, was supposed to be opening this January. It now transpires that it will not open until September 11th. Why the delay? Why this date? Could they not have opened on any other date? Is this an horrendously cynical attempt by the film company to get a few extra bums on seats by implying the Suffragettes were terrorists?
The only time I’ve been interviewed about Suffragettes, was by the BBC on the centenary of a couple of Suffragettes damaging David Lloyd-George’s part-built, empty second home, by letting off a small bomb there in the early hours of the morning. Nobody was injured or put at risk. But the interviewer was only interested in the women as terrorists.
And until this Wednesday’s forthcoming Amanda Vickery documentary about Suffragettes, we’ve had to wait 40 years since the drama, Shoulder to Shoulder aired, for a programme of note about Suffragettes or Suffragists. British women finally gaining the vote in 1917 (1918 by the time the bill went through Parliament) has been conspicuous by its absence during the BBC’s saturation coverage of World War 1. The Suffragettes were disbanded in 1914 and were not involved in the final push to the vote for women, but were clearly important in the overall fight for the vote. But do the BBC think that the success of what they believe to be ‘terrorists’ in 1917/18 is to be ignored.
The very brave women of the Suffragettes were not terrorists. During their arson and destruction campaign of 1913/14, they only attacked buildings that were empty. They did not want to harm anyone. Their most audacious attacks were against racecourse grandstands, cricket pavilions, Kew Gardens tea pavilion; they burnt ‘votes for women’ into golf greens with acid, slashed paintings in art galleries. Ladies were banned from entering major public places unless they gave up their umbrellas, walking sticks and muffs.