AS SEEN ON NETFLIX: SUFFRAGETTE

Hey, everyone! Welcome to “As Seen On Netflix”, a new series on ANDWHY exploring films or shows on Netflix. I’ve always been a movie junkie so this was the perfect way to express my appreciation for them. In this series, I will summarize and analyze specific movies or shows on Netflix. 

“Women do not have the calmness of temperament or the balance of mind to exercise judgement in political affairs,” voices a member of the British Parliament. “If we allow women to vote, it would be the loss of social structure.”

It is the year 1912. Women worldwide are fighting an unseen enemy- the patriarchy. 

Their rights and livelihoods are at stake. They have been peacefully fighting for the right to vote for decades but they have been ignored. It is time for them to be perceived as equals. It is time for the world to recognize the severity of their situation. 

Released in 2015 as a British historical drama, Suffragette, touches upon the war against the patriarchy. The film follows 24-year-old Maud Watts (Carey Hannah Mulligan) as she struggles with her job as a laundry worker and navigates the reality of being a European woman in the 20th century. 

In the beginning, Maud Watts is a law-abiding citizen. She makes an effort to stay away from the suffragettes, who had begun to riot in her hometown. They have decided that they are done with peaceful protests, turning instead to smashing store windows and throwing heavy rocks, inciting chaos. Suffragettes are heavily stigmatized in every neighborhood by both males and females. 

Out of curiosity, Watts finds herself roped into the suffragette movement, led by Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep). She soon becomes a dedicated member of the community by choice, though this does not come without sacrifice. Her role as a suffragette is considered disgraceful and she is stripped from her job, her son, as well as her place in the household. 

Watts’ love for her only son, George, is a significant motivational force in the film. 

“If the law says I can’t see my son, I will fight to change that law,” she powerfully delivers in a letter to Inspector Steed, who attempts to discourage her from associating with suffragettes. 

Watts being taken to jail after a protest gone wrong (Photo from Suffragette film).

In many ways, the events in this film are extremely relevant in today’s society. Throughout the film, tensions between police and suffragettes constantly escalated until all hell broke loose at a women’s rights protest. Suddenly, armed police attacked the peaceful protestors. Maud Watts was assaulted and hit the ground, only to be dragged away by two armed policemen. 

Even outside of the police force, no citizen truly supported the movement because they believed that it was a violent group of women demanding rights. However, this movement never gained the popularity of the public until they began violently protesting. These extraordinary women weren’t simply fighting for their rights, they were fighting for equality, they were fighting for better lives. They shouldn’t have been expected to sit back and watch as men had higher incomes than them, even though they did the same amount of work, if not more. 

Recently, America celebrated the anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, the act that finally granted American women the right to vote. On August 18th, 1920, American women were able to exercise their voting rights, bringing them one step closer to equality.

Meanwhile, in 2015, Saudi Arabian women voted for the first time in history, reminding us that even in the 21st century, the fight against the patriarchy ensues until ALL women are deemed equal to their male counterparts.

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