Morrison: Film premiere protest echoes feminist, activist history

The highly anticipated film Suffragette premiered in London, England on Oct. 12 amid vivacious activism. The film—a depiction of the struggle of English women suffragists—became highly publicized when the United Kingdom-based feminist group Sisters Uncut held a demonstration at the red carpet premiere.

Sisters Uncut took the occasion as an opportunity to display their mission and make a statement about domestic violence among a crowd excited for a supposedly groundbreaking feminist film. Approximately 14 women stormed the red carpet chanting, “Dead women can’t vote” while lying on the ground amongst members of the press and celebrities.

Sisters Uncut describes itself as a “feminist group taking direct action for domestic violence services.” In the U.K., women’s services are facing economic cutbacks, leaving countless women in extremely unsafe and life-threatening situations. Sisters Uncut focuses on finding safe spaces and resources for women fleeing these violent relationships.

Suffragette received mostly positive reviews from critics. Many critics praised the film for discussing the more violent side of the suffrage movement, rather than the heartwarming imagery that often overwrites the true struggles that activists faced. Despite the immense triumphs of women during the Suffrage movement, it is important to remember that Suffragette is not simply a story of victory. The film depicts the beginning of a fight that continues today as women around the world face oppression, violence and inequality.

Sisters Uncut’s protest was not one against the sentiments of the movie, however, but in homage to it. As Sisters Uncut posted on its Facebook page, “The film depicts a struggle for women's rights that took place nearly 100 years ago, but we know that the struggle isn't over.” This statement alone speaks volumes about the nature of the current feminist movement.

One of the greatest problems facing this generation of women is the belief that the fight for feminism has been won. Many laws have been changed, many institutions have been altered and many doors have been opened for women. Unfortunately, changing the infrastructure of our society has not changed many attitudes and practices of the people and institutions in power.

The mission of Sisters Uncut represents this continuing struggle. While many laws now protect women in the domestic sphere, it does not change the fact that domestic violence persists and that the state does little to support women in these situations.

Movies like Suffragette have huge implications for women, regardless of critical response or box office revenue. They inspire action and create a discourse in the public sphere in a way that only media can.

Whether Suffragette is a successful film or not, its existence allowed for a small organization to share its voice and to make its goals known on a large platform.