I'm a passionate advocate for voting in elections. Although I don't always like the choices I have on offer, I still go along whenever I have the opportunity to participate in the form of democracy that we have on offer, to make sure that I have contributed to the formation of government. Along with paying tax, I see voting as one of the few responsibilities we have in return for living in a safe, prosperous society. At the very least, I feel that voting gives me the right to whinge about politics. Of course, not everyone shares my enthusiasm for elections.
Over the years, I've wondered if the apathy Australians (and many others) feel about their right to vote - seeing it as a bother rather than a power - is due to the fact that as a nation we didn't have to fight for it and thus take it for granted. This morning I remembered that's a load of crap. Most people except land-owning white men had to wait and often argue for the right to vote, including, of course, women.
The suffragette movement was an early and fundamental building block of the feminist movement which has grown, diversified and flourished ever since. Despite this, I never expected to see a Hollywood, possible Oscar-contending film about the suffragette movement in the UK. But here it is!!
This film is made in a time when the politics of women in mainstream films remain a highly visible reminder that women's issues are not usually embraced as interesting for the public, and women actors are not seen as viable leads on their own terms. Salma Hayek recently explained that she had lost roles when a male lead decided he didn't want to work with her, while Geena Davis has a whole movement happening around the visibility of women in media. I'm not suggesting that the issues highly paid actresses face in Hollywood are the most pressing of our global concerns about women's rights, but it is a highly visible one.
And it makes the production of this film all the more interesting. And it stars Meryl Streep and Helen Bonham Carter - two women who have managed to hold careers that they were in control of and in which they have played interesting and varied characters, as well as speak to the politics of Hollywood with authority and integrity.
And it's a film about an important historical period and change - women gaining the right to vote. Nay, women fighting for and winning the previously denied right to vote. This fight has wrought social and cultural changes for women to the point that, in the West at least, we now are able to take for granted. This film is a timely reminder of how far we have come, and who was responsible for that change.
This is not a 'women's film'. This is a 'based-on-actual-events' film, this is an 'historical' film, this is a 'human rights' film, and while I cannot vouch for the quality of it yet, we should all go check it out.