Comment | “Dead Women Can’t Vote”: Why We Stormed the Red Carpet at the Suffragette Premiere
Editor's Desk, New in Ceasefire - Posted on Thursday, October 8, 2015 17:00 - 1 Comment
The publicity drive for the film Suffragette (2015), released this week, has not only featured the usual Hollywood self-congratulatory fanfare, but also the sort of publicity stunt that now seems de rigueur for films with an overtly political subject matter.
Ahead of its premiere in London yesterday, the film’s all-white cast appeared in t-shirts emblazoned with a rather poorly thought-out catchphrase: ‘I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.’ Ominously enough, the design seemed to mimic that of the ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirts of last year, which were a huge hit with the Good and Famous, from Benedict Cumberbatch to Nick Clegg, until it was revealed they had been made in a sweatshop.
This choice of T-shirt slogan by the Sufragette crew was astonishing. For a start, it is extremely crude and offensive to the memory of enslaved people and their descendants, painting them as passively accepting of their fate. Moreover, it portrays slavery and rebellion not only as mere choices, but as mutually exclusive ones, too. In doing so it erases the fact that many enslaved people did just that – rebel.
Alas, this episode is the latest in white feminism’s long record of consistently foregrounding and elevating the role of white women and their struggles over and above those of their black and brown sisters. Moreover, it epitomises white feminism’s tendency to to actually forget, distort and erase historical fact in the process.
Since our collective, Sisters Uncut, is a militant, feminist direct action group, what better place to interrupt another whitewashed version of women’s history than at the premiere of the film, alongside actors telling their one half of the story?
Of course, when we were planning this protest, we recognised that films like Sufragette are important, and that women’s history needs to be told. But we were also keen to remind the ‘humanist-not-feminist’ celebrities that the sisters of colour were also there with the Suffragettes, and also fought for women’s rights – not just to vote, but to live in safety.
Sisters Uncut was formed to campaign against cuts to domestic violence services – services that can be a lifeline to women fleeing violent relationships. With the government’s austerity agenda starting to bite, funding for all domestic violence services has been slashed, though specialist services for LGBT, black and minority ethnic women have been hit hardest.
Without access to such vital support, women are left at risk from violent partners, and with two women murdered by a partner or former partner every week in the UK, the government’s action amounts, in essence and in effect, to allowing these women to die.
Adopting the very tactics of the Suffragettes carries a special significance for us. The Suffragettes used direct action – blowing up post-boxes, smashing shop windows, disrupting public events – to create a politically toxic environment in which the issue of women’s right to vote, and women’s liberation more generally, could no longer be ignored.
We intend to use those same tactics because we recognise the urgency of the fight for domestic violence services. After all, as we reminded those on the red carpet yesterday, dead women can’t vote.
Leave a Reply
- Analysis | Borders are a weapon of racism and austerity, not a solution to either
- Comment | To Leave or Not to Leave the EU: A British Muslim Perspective
- Analysis | Billionaire Republicans and Professional Islamophobes: The Pro-Israel lobby in Brussels
- Analysis | Their Violence, Our Values: A History of European Responses to Political Dissent
- Comment | Education as Resistance: Western Sahara’s Rising Generation
More In Politics
- Comment | Growing international recognition of Western Sahara offers new hope for Africa’s Last Colony
- Politics | “We are the lions, Mr. Manager”: Revisiting the Great Grunwick Strike
- Comment | The Government’s Extremism Bill will do little to prevent extremism and much to undermine democracy and civil liberties
- Comment | This victory shows we can, and must, shut down the DSEI arms fair for good
- Politics | “She did not die; she multiplied”: Honouring Berta Cáceres
More In Features
- Special Report | Does the Prevent strategy have any credibility left?
- Special Report | “Solidarity is being criminalised”: Anger as Greek police raids refugee housing squats and camps
- Special Report | Miracles and Mirages: Greed and corruption have created a doping epidemic in Sport
- Special Report | From Women Refugees to International Students: The State’s War on Migrants
- Special Report | Bazaar Politics: Uncovering Social Cleansing In the Heart of London
More In Profiles
More In Arts & Culture
- Books | Review | Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
- Film | Review | The Journey from Syria: “I wish we could have this life in our country”
- Film | Review | Batman v Superman: Dawn of Nihilism and Mansplaining
- Books | Review | ‘Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War’
- Film | Review | The Big Short: Laughter in the Dark