Screening women’s history in the film Suffragette (2015): between intersectional feminist activism and historical memory

Stevenson, Ana ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4858-1073 (2022) Screening women’s history in the film Suffragette (2015): between intersectional feminist activism and historical memory. Women's History Review, 31 (6). pp. 1002-1027. ISSN 0961-2025


Abstract

Prior to its release, the film Suffragette (2015) generated significant media commentary when its marketing campaign emblazoned a controversial historical quotation on promotional t-shirts. The 1913 Emmeline Pankhurst quotation generated a variety of negative emotional responses across digital, print, and social media because it compared women’s disenfranchisement to slavery. This article builds on recent historical analyses of national and transnational women’s movements that are informed by the history of emotions. It considers the operation of discourses of slavery within the history, memory, and popular culture of the transatlantic women’s suffrage movement. Using Jemima Repo’s concept of feminist commodity activism to situate the t-shirts, this article examines the anger and frustration that dominated media commentary about the Suffragette marketing campaign across the United States, Britain, Australia, and Canada. Both the filmmakers and intersectional feminist activists embraced historical evidence—from primary and secondary sources—to mobilise different narratives about the Women’s Social and Political Union. Yet many journalists and commentators envisioned the film’s construction of historical memory as insufficiently attuned to racism within the history of feminism, and thus as a failure of intersectional feminism. Suffragette reveals significant anxieties about how the women’s suffrage movement should be remembered in the twenty-first century.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - USQ College (8 Jun 2020 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - USQ College (8 Jun 2020 -)
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2022 22:31
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2022 01:37
Uncontrolled Keywords: Suffragette; Emmeline Pankhurst; Women’s Social and Political Union; popular culture; historical memory; intersectional feminism
Fields of Research (2020): 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430309 Gender history
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430304 British history
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4701 Communication and media studies > 470107 Media studies
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130704 Understanding Europe’s past
13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1302 Communication > 130204 The media
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09612025.2022.2090712
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/51003

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