Today I watched Iron Jawed Angels – “Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and the women of the 1918 Womens Suffrage movement fight for future generations right to vote and run for office. Sacrificing their health, marriages and the limited amount of freedom they had, women were imprisoned and force-fed after picketing and hunger-striking against war-time president, Woodrow Wilson; but survived to see the results of their efforts.
It was an incredible film; but one I had only recorded by chance. When I was at school we learnt about the suffragettes and I’ve seen other films and books about it; but I still completely take for granted the rights and privileges that are afforded to me, because of the bravery and sacrifice of women, such as those in the film. I don’t know how historically accurate the film is; but from the things I remember from school, I think it was a good portrayal. It certainly made an impact on me.
I may be living with disability; but I am among some of the most fortunate women, in this country, who have ever lived. Times are tough, financially, environmentally and the future can be extremely frightening; but the current world is unrecognisable, to what we would have been living through, less than 100 years ago. So much has changed for the better; but we don’t realise it because we weren’t there and history just keeps getting older, more distant and seemingly less relevant. It’s becoming consigned to dusty textbooks and far off memories.
All women in the UK got the right to vote in 1928. 1928, that’s the century I was born in! It’s only three generations ago, my great-grandmother was born before women had the vote. Her mother and grandmother never got to vote.
Being able to vote is not just about being able to decide who runs the country, it’s so much more. It’s being seen as a person in your own right, with choices and independence, freedom to choose and to be whomever you want. To follow your dreams, desires and ambitions, have a career, and/or family and be who you truly are. I take this for granted as something that’s entitled to me, something I expect; but women died so I could feel like that and many more around the world still don’t have that right, which breaks my heart.
Women are incredible, beautiful and powerful beyond their comprehension. There are so many inspiring women, past and present, some who’ve achieved great things and acknowledgement and others whose successes are never recognised, the teacher that inspires or the supportive friend who makes a difference. To all the great women out there I salute you and to all those who fought to give me the life that I now enjoy, I offer up my heart felt thanks.
For anyone that may want to watch it –