Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Give Thanks to Mrs. Pankhurst

Maddie has recently fallen in love with Mary Poppins. I never much cared for it as a child, but watching it as an adult, I confess: I fell in love, too. This movie plays in so beautifully to the time it depicts and all in a way that is so far beyond a child's ken.

I think the wonder of the movie is Glynnis John, who seems to so thoroughly grasp that a woman "must be" active for herself, ditsy and pleasing for her husband, and wise and watchful for her children. And despite all Mary Poppins' efforts, it takes a man to get through to George Banks. A truly fascinating movie.

As a child I did love one song: Sister Suffragate, though I never understood it. Now I think Maddie has picked up on my love of it as well. We like to sing it together and we sang it on our way to the polls.

Hearing that song makes me realize how little voting has really meant to me. And it should! We're "their daughters' daughters" (or granddaughters really). And what those women really did for us.

Yes, you saw it coming... Here's my British history lecture. In this country we calmly speak of women's rights while looking at placidly calm Susan Bs and Cady Stantons. What a different fight it really was and are we thankful? When Glynnis Johns yells "Give thanks for Mrs. Pankhurst's been clapped in irons again!" It surely gives images of these women in civil disobedience. But did you know those women were then tortured? Strapped to tables and violently/chokingly force fed to end hunger strikes (and much worse!)?

One of my favorite "textbooks" is The Strange Death of Liberal England (George Dangerfield), which details this and other social rights struggles during the 1910s, a worthy read on a such a day as this.

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