“Don’t be fooled by “Suffragette”: Violence alone did not secure the women’s vote”

“The real-life WSPU attacks dramatized in Suffragette were carried out by a set of about a hundred women, including private agents who were paid to perform the bombings. By comparison, at the same time, the NUWSS had nearly 600 regional societies, totaling more than 50,000 members — about ten or twenty times WSPU membership, and about 500 times the number of dedicated violent militants.
Suffragette‘s airbrushing of the WSPU and deletion of the NUWSS should give us pause. The long trend of imagining militant suffragettes as harmless ladies was troubling. But glamorizing their actions is also problematic. The vast majority of suffragettes have vanished from public memory because the NUWSS’s work did not satisfy media demands for a gripping story. It was long-term, legislation-oriented, regional, and often rural. It was invested in meeting women’s local needs as well as their national demands, and in addressing class inequalities alongside gender ones. In other words, the NUWSS encouraged solidarity in a way that the WSPU did not…
Our goal in discussing films like Suffragette should not be to conflate subjugated groups or their social movements, but to contest the process of lumping each multifaceted movement into a single, narratively appealing mass.”

This is comprehensive and interesting. I’m really glad that we’re digging into how we perceive and record activism, right now in this new era of activism when we are trying to understand our present and trying to present ourselves for future recording.