Women in Film: “Suffragette” & Women’s Right to Vote


On a slightly cold but windy Saturday morning, I took a trip down to the cinema for a filmgoing experience I haven’t had in awhile – seeing the limited release of Suffragette from the United Kingdom.

Directed by Sarah Gavron with an all-female filmmaking crew, Suffragette, starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep, tells the story (based on actual events) of the early beginnings of the feminist movement in 1912 to gain women the right to vote. As with most true historical stories, Hollywood always seems to take a creative license and spin an event into an exercise in over-the-top theatrics. But not with Suffragette. Awful working conditions, being treated like second class citizens, Suffragette is as raw as it comes and the viewers feels it as he or she is viewing this film.

If there’s one thing in films I absolutely despise is violence towards women and animals. With Suffragette, there are scenes of brutality towards the lead actresses and supporting cast and it’s hard to watch at times (the scenes of the police attacking women and the force feeding scene brought out the tears and anger for me). But in this case, being a historical drama, brutality clearly had to be shown to showcase the awful oppression women – especially the working class poor – were faced with day in and day out during that time period. It was also nice to be able to identify with the sympathetic male ally in doctor Edith Ellyn’s (Bonham Carter) husband Hugh.

After leaving the cinema and walking through the shopping center with Christmas music blaring, I was in a state of quiet reflection Even the drive home turned into a quiet moment of reflection; a reflection on how grateful I am that women (including my mom, sister, and all my female friends) have the ability to vote and have a voice thanks in part to the courageous women who paved the way for women’s rights. Unfortunately there are still barriers and injustice thrust on women all over the world today, but as long as the fight continues, I’ll be right there to support and be an ally to all women. As far as awards season goes, Mulligan deserves Oscar recognition as well as Bonham Carter, Gavron and the filmmaking crew.



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