It’s pretty irritating how a lot of people are appropriating and selectively-remembering Suffragette resistance to support shaming people who don’t want to vote.
[See #Suffragettes on Twitter for numerous examples if you haven’t seen it on your own social media feed(s) already.]
Not voting is a totally acceptable response to what a total failure representative democracy is.
Just because women fought for women to vote doesn’t mean that women have to vote in order to be worthy of that right. By this logic, every pro-choice woman must have an abortion.
Rights are about being able to have your autonomy recognised so you can make choices for yourself instead of being told that you can’t because of who you are.
While we’re on the subject of UK Suffragettes and people ‘fighting’ for women’s votes…
Fighting literally happened.
When the letter-writing, petition-signing, peaceful protesting, leafletting and general campaigning pleasantries didn’t cut it they split in two groups.
One of them militarised.
Led by the Pankhursts, the Women’s Social and Political Union burned down churches and empty properties of wealthy elite, smashed shopped windows, defaced all-male spaces like golf courses/cricket clubs/horse racing tracks, went on hunger strike, assaulted police officers, bombed public buildings including Westminster Abbey and destroyed the contents of letterboxes with fire and corrosive acids.
Would you support Suffragettes today?
This part of history is continually, purposefully pushed aside to aid the shaming and silencing of angry, vocal women who take direct action. Support for or any cooperation with the Pankhursts is erased. Davison’s death is viewed as a singular, failed militant act. The rest are remembered liked Mrs. Banks out of Mary-fucking-Poppins. Some of them may have been, but a lot of them weren’t.
Angry voices are important to remember and respect. Violent responses are important to remember and respect. They are intrinsic to any liberation struggle. All responses are worthy and justified. There is no ‘right’ way to respond to your oppression. It is your choice and it is not okay to police the responses of others.
We would not be where we are today without aggressive, hostile activists.
We cannot move forward without them.
Game-changing militant activists are erased and/or condemned. Prominent activists who have engaged in both peaceful and more aggressive forms of activism are only be remembered in history if their militarism erased.
When Suffragette history is taught and/or discussed, the Pankhursts are criticised for ‘setting the women’s movement back’.
Even today, in places like Baltimore and Ferguson, when a liberation struggle takes matters into their own hands they’re continually told they are setting their movements back. That this isn’t the correct way to respond. That they shouldn’t result to violence.
Is there any other choice? Why do we care about property more than black people unjustly killed by white, police murderers who get slapped on the wrist and sent home on paid administrative leave?
Do you think people and governments would respond like this if they were actually setting the black rights movement back? No, cos’ people are responding like white supremacy is being challenged. They aren’t responding like the status quo is being maintained.
This is really paternalistic. Oppressed people are not naughty children. They’re human beings demanding the power, autonomy, privilege and social liberation that other people are born into. You can only get so far by engaging with the system.
Women born after the Suffragettes are encouraged to believe that it was not at all to do with those efforts but only the well-behaved, easy-to-swallow ones that made all of the progress all on their own. By following the rules! By keeping the system intact!
I see you, women’s activists, ignoring Baltimore… and I’m side-eying you for it.
This selective history teaches women activists that they’re supposed to be palatable to make progress. That they should exclude angry, radical people and their voices from their spaces.
But instead we should go *all guns blazing* against the Sanitary Product Tax?
We are still fighting to for the world to recognise and support full reproductive autonomy for women.
But instead we should focus on campaigns like Emma Watson’s UN-backed HeForShe campaign?
Cos’ really, it’s men’s marginalisation in a movement that really isn’t for them that’s important. Not the black women, queer women, trans women, sex working women, working class women and disabled women still purposefully excluded from the women’s movement.
The point of a liberation movement is not to be palatable to your oppressor.
It is to challenge them.
It is to make them uncomfortable.
It is to take their power away for yourself.
Most importantly, it is crucial not to act like your oppressors or aspire to gain the same exploitative, oppressive status of your oppressors within the current system.
If people like you, you’re doing liberation activism wrong.
So, go ahead…
Remember the Suffragettes, but remember them correctly and don’t think for a second that they’d support vote-shaming tactics.
That is setting the women’s movement back.
This fabulous post was originally posted by the fabulous wysewoman hailey 30th april 2015 Here