(Posted on behalf of Judith Meredith)
On a rather dark and wet Thursday afternoon several members of the Women’s Forum, along with Cllr Maurice Watson, travelled to Hailsham to watch the film Suffragette.
Suffragette is not just a film. Don’t value it by the fame of the actors or the quality of the acting, but value it for the underlying true story that it depicts. It has not been dramatised as a melodrama, or romanticised into a soppy story about women, but it is simply a straight-forward portrayal of the real and powerful nature of women.
Listen and absorb the fight, the grit, the determination of those women, as they struggled for justice and equality, to be recognised as human beings in their own right.
The Suffragettes fought for their rights, and for the rights of their children. They fought for a living wage, and in doing so they were so cruelly punished:
imprisonment, force-feeding, beaten to the ground and kicked by the police, beaten by their husbands. Often rejected by their families, and emotionally abused by their communities and society, these women fought on until they won the vote — the beginning equality for us, their granddaughters and great granddaughters.
From the Suffragettes, to the women of Dagenham in the 1960’s, to now, women are still fighting for full equality and equal pay. In the battle for a living wage, it is the women who bear the brunt of poverty. When it comes to equal pay, it was recently reported that Bexhill has the worst discrimination in the country.
The struggle between the rich and the poor continues, and the gap is widening. Sisters, do not let us sit and watch while Cameron and his crew destroy all that our grandmothers worked hard for. And not to forget our grandfathers, who fought in the world wars. Together, they secured for our future the health service and welfare state that is now being ruthlessly dismantled.
In his book ‘Harry’s Last Stand’ (how the world my generation built is falling down and what we can do to save it) Harry Lee-Smith, now in his 90’s offers to us a unique perspective on the NHS cut backs, benefits policy, political corruption, food poverty, the cost of education, and a lot more. A book worth reading.
And a note from history: the Suffragettes had some male supporters, even the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.