It’s funny that Suffragette was apparently rejected by the radfem/intersectional corners of feminist media because it affirms every important article of faith in the contemporary bible.
- Men are evil, violent, oppressive rapists and violence is the only language we understand.
- Men are incompetent fathers and women are the only ones who should be granted custody rights in the event of a separation.
- The acquisition of political power is the only way to ensure justice and the destruction of private property is justified if the end is achieved.
What’s not to like for the patriarchy fighting feminist champion?
Apparently, Meryl Streep’s alleged cultural insensitivity and the absence of multicultural correctness were enough to condemn this film to the shithouse for some feminists. One gets the impression that the more you try to appease feminists, the more they complain.
The film is deeply flawed, but not without some redeeming features. Suffragette is a fictitious account of a group of women who were disciples of Emmeline Pankhurst’s British suffrage movement. The story centers around Carey Mulligan’s Maud Watts and her evolution from meek, submissive laundry worker, wife and mother to militant suffragette.
On the dubious side, the film presents female oppression in such stark terms, it feels calculated to appeal to the feminist cult of grievances as it works its way through the standard list of talking points.
The men are portrayed in such a uniformly bad light, it is slightly cartoonish. Maud’s evil, capitalist employer is a cruel, abusive taskmaster. Brendan Gleeson’s Inspector Steed is the ruthless government goon who spies on the movement and is singularly focused on enforcing the will of the state. Ben Whishaw’s Sonny Watts is a bland dullard who becomes cruel and possessive of their son when Maud’s activism lands her in jail. I don’t doubt that men like this exist now or then, but the whole thing came across like the standard radfem dichotomy of men = evil/women = virtue.
Naturally, we are subjected to the omnipresent feminist articles of political faith. In a pivotal scene in which Maud delivers a testimony about her plight to a politician who made promises about giving women access to the vote, we get the predictable laundry list. Women work harder and longer than the men under punishing, toxic circumstances and get paid less. The owner is an abusive prick and women have no legal recourse. The movie seems to want you to believe that not only does the film accurately portray life for all women back then, but that nothing has changed whatsoever since then. And of course, the only meaningful recourse is more political activity.
In many ways, the film is the feminist analogue to Selma. You are presented with a group completely disenfranchised from the vote by evil, white men and despite the abject cruelty dispensed by the agents of the state, the only way to rebalance the scales of justice is to give women access to the very apparatus of power which meted out the oppression in the first place. Because after all, women are inherently virtuous and a woman who wields state power won’t be corrupted by the institution. Nor will women be poisoned by a sense of entitlement once they are given favorable treatment after power has been attained. Right, feminists?
By far, the dumbest aspect of the film is its idiotic and irresponsible endorsement of the destruction of private property as a means of political protest. That’s right, Revolutionaries! If you’re pissed off about what the government is doing, the best thing you can do is ruin the property of someone who has done nothing to you! Protest state violence with acts of arbitrary violence against private property! Makes perfect sense!
On the positive side, the relationship between Maud and her son George tugs at the heartstrings. Despite the abuses she suffered earlier in life, she’s a doting and affectionate mother. When Sonny gives up George for adoption, Mulligan’s emotions are wrenching. Just like this year’s other notable feminist movie, Grandma, the film is providing a pretty vivid reminder that women do in fact make the babies and motherhood is something that many women want and enjoy. Despite the relentless regurgitation of wage gap propaganda, many seem unwilling or unable to grasp that this decision tends to influence the amount of career ambition women exhibit in the workplace.
Overall, it has just enough going for it to warrant a recommendation. But just barely. It portrays the nature of state power correctly, but its endorsement of this power is, as many feminists seem to enjoy saying, problematic.