Wednesday, January 06, 2016
The real reason there are no women of colour in 'Suffragette'
I put up yesterday a conservative critique of the "Suffragette" movie. Below is a Leftist critique. I reproduce the whole plaint but the whole thing could be reduced to a complaint that the movie did not evangelize for common leftist themes such as class war and racism.
The feminist concerned has not got it into her woolly head that the job of the movie is to entertain, not to crusade
Didactic films are normally very boring and attract very small audiences -- even among those who agree with the didactic intent
I knew I was going to feel torn about Suffragette well before I watched the film. The fight for western women's right to vote is a key moment in the history of global feminism and it deserves to be remembered. But the all-white cast threatened to overshadow the film's subject matter, and I can understand why some have called for a boycott and why others refused to write a review of the film.
I have made a point of calling out whitewashing in popular culture whenever I see it occur, which is often. In regards to Suffragette, it is certainly peculiar that a film set in London, even early in the 20th century, would not feature any people of colour whatsoever, let alone in pivotal roles. But then again, I've always thought of the British suffragette movement as a predominantly white women's cause. Not since my teenage years had I entertained the notion that the white suffragettes were fighting for the rights of women like me.
Yes, there is whitewashing in Suffragette but it does not take the form that critics lamenting its lack of suffragettes of colour say it does. It's true that some women of colour (WoC) were involved in the movement. Historical proof of their involvement include photographs such as this:
This photograph of Indian suffragettes was taken at the Women's Coronation Procession in 1911, where contingents from the various British colonies were present in order "to show the strength of support for women's suffrage throughout the Empire." So they were not there for their own rights, so much as they were there to bolster the cause of white suffragettes.
The Indian suffragettes were a select group of women, wealthy aristocrats with ties to the British ruling class and whose social status permitted them to work alongside key figures like Emmeline Pankhurst.
That's not to say all the Indian suffragettes were shilling for white supremacy. Indeed, some of them also fought for Indian independence, including Princess Sophie Duleep Singh who, despite living with the British royal family and being the goddaughter of Queen Victoria, also collaborated with Indian activists and proved herself to be a right royal pain in the proverbial by refusing to pay her taxes until women had the vote.
However, their involvement, rather than indicating that the suffragette movement was inclusive (it wasn't), reveals more about the class system in the UK than it does about the struggle for suffrage.
And that is where the problem with Suffragette really lies. It's not that it doesn't honour suffragettes who were WoC, it's that it doesn't even touch on why non-white women were largely excluded.
As historian Jad Adams, author of Women and The Vote: A World History, told The Telegraph, "I don't know of any British black women being involved in the movement... They were not very public... They were lower working class people and tended to be disenfranchised in many ways."
Sadly, much of the marginalisation of WoC came at the hands of white women who, despite fighting for their own rights, were nonetheless content to let racism persist. Had the film depicted WoC fighting alongside white women, it would have given the false impression that the latter saw them as their equals, whereas white suffragettes were frequently firm believers in white supremacy.
"I wouldn't presume [black women] would have been welcome [in the suffrage movement] if they'd joined," Adams says.
In other words, including working class WoC in the film would have been dishonest because to even be able to agitate for women's suffrage required a certain degree of privilege and freedom.
As much as I enjoyed the film because it tells the story of a pivotal moment in history - the repercussions and results of which reverberate to this day - from the perspective of the working poor, who are themselves often ignored by history, it still falls into the trap that so many stories told by white people do: it completely overlooks the racism of its protagonists and the role this played on the course of history.
Emmeline Pankhurst has mythic status in Suffragette. But she was also a fierce believer in colonialism who thought WoC needed white women to look out for them. Her quip "I'd rather be a rebel than a slave" was uncritically used in - and to promote - the film even though some of her contemporaries thought her comparisons to slavery were in poor taste. Meanwhile, other key suffragettes were furious that Maori women in NZ had gotten the vote before they did.
The biggest oversight of the film then is not that it doesn't include WoC suffragettes, but that it doesn't even touch on the reasons why there was so few of them. There are many ways WoC could have been included in the film. Princess Sophie Singh could have appeared alongside Emmeline Pankhurst as she often did in real life. Some of the main characters' neighbours could have been black. Perhaps a black co-worker in the commercial laundry where much of the film takes place could have attempted to join the movement only to be cruelly shunned. That would have been powerful cinema. But it would also require a degree of honest examination of history that many white storytellers are still sorely lacking.
As it stands, Suffragette is an important film because it depicts the struggle for emancipation of a marginalised group. But, while we have much to thank them for, we should not make the mistake of assuming, as the film appears to, that the suffragettes were fighting for anyone's benefit but their own. Suffragette is history not as it really was, but as white people wish it to be: with the racism removed.
German police hunt for group of up to 1,000 men 'of Arab and North African origin' who sexually assaulted numerous women and threw fireworks into crowds at Cologne train station on New Year's Eve
German police are hunting for a group of up to a 1,000 men 'of Arab and North African origin' who are accused of sexually assaulting numerous women and causing trouble at Cologne's main station.
Police described the series of sexual assaults against women in Cologne on New Year's Eve as 'a completely new dimension of crime.'
Officers received numerous complaints from women who said they had been assaulted around Cologne's main train station next to the western German city's famous cathedral on the night from Thursday to Friday.
The group of men reportedly also robbed their victims and threw fireworks at a crowd of people, according to Breitbart.
Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers said witnesses described the assaults as coming from a group of up to 1,000 men whose appearance indicated they were of 'Arab or North African origin.'
Some 60 criminal complaints have so far been filed, including one allegation of rape.
German news agency dpa quoted Albers telling reporters on Monday that it was 'an intolerable situation that such crimes are committed in the middle of the city.'
One of the victims, named only as 'Katja L', gave a harrowing testimony of her ordeal. 'When we came out of the station, we were very surprised by the group that met us there'. She said the group was 'exclusively young foreign men,' she told Der Express.
'We then walked through this group of men. There was an alley through [the men] which we walked through.'
She described the moment she 'felt a hand on my buttocks, then on my breasts, in the end'. 'I was groped everywhere. It was a nightmare. Although we shouted and beat them, the guys did not stop. I was desperate and think I was touched around 100 times in the 200 meters,' she said.
'Fortunately I wore a jacket and trousers. A skirt would probably have been torn away from me'.
It is unclear if the gang of men are migrants but opinions remain divided in Cologne over the recent influx of migrants with protests held by PEGIDA and a campaign supporting migrants.
Repent or we quit say bishops in gays feud: Anglican church could split in challenge to Cantuar's authority
Sad that only African and Asian Anglicans respect Bible teachings
Church leaders from Africa and Asia are threatening to walk out of a crucial meeting chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury unless American bishops drop their support for gay marriage.
Archbishop Justin Welby last year invited the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Church to the summit in Canterbury next week in a ‘make or break’ effort to avert a permanent split over homosexuality.
The row has torn the Church apart for a decade – with conservatives accusing liberals of abandoning the word of God by backing openly gay bishops and marriages for gay couples – and the Archbishop wants to broker a deal to allow both sides to co-exist peacefully.
But insiders said a hardcore of eight to 12 conservative archbishops from Africa and Asia are preparing to quit the meeting on the first morning unless the liberal Americans ‘repent’ or the Archbishop throws them out.
In what would be a massive challenge to Archbishop Welby’s authority, the conservatives, who represent some of the biggest of the 38 individual Churches in the worldwide ‘Communion’, are then likely move to their own headquarters nearby for the rest of the meeting.
While they are unlikely immediately to break their historic ties with the Archbishop of Canterbury – the nominal head of the Communion – they would boycott future official meetings and set up a parallel church, drawing away traditionalists from the Church of England.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that feelings are running so high that the three most powerful leaders, the Archbishops of Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda, were last week on the brink of snubbing the meeting altogether, but were persuaded to attend by colleagues still hoping to force concessions from Welby.
Sources said they have lost patience with the Archbishop’s refusal to discipline the liberals for ignoring official policy urging them to refrain from creating gay bishops or approving gay marriage without widespread agreement.
But liberal leaders have said Archbishop Welby has assured them that no one will be expelled from the meeting.
The Archbishop will instead propose that the Communion becomes a more loosely linked ‘federation’ to keep everyone in the ‘family’ – which aides have compared to ‘moving into separate bedrooms’ rather than full-scale divorce.
The bitter divisions led Archbishop Welby to postpone last year’s Lambeth Conference, the regular gathering of all Anglican bishops from around the world that has been held nearly every decade, except during the two world wars, since the 1860s.
The last, in 2008, was boycotted by key conservatives furious with the liberal American Church for consecrating an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003. The Americans accuse conservatives of fostering homophobic attitudes.
The Church of England currently bans same sex marriage in church, but it is under huge pressure to relax its stance. Lambeth Palace said: ‘The Archbishop has invited everyone. If people walk out that will be viewed with disappointment rather than anger, and the door will always be open.’
A victory for free speech: The Australian army versus outspoken Major Bernard Gaynor
The man they couldn't fire: A good soldier persecuted for his Christian beliefs and criticism of Islam. The Army has however appealed his win in the Federal Court to the High Court. The High Court is however where a right of free speech for Australians was first found so the bet should be on Gaynor to win again
The Australian Defence Force has just suffered an embarrassing defeat in which the armed forces appear primarily as a federal government department rather than a combat force. Most of the fighting is done behind desks.
The mission, duty and special legal status which sets our military apart from almost all other elements of society, is that it exists to detect, deter, suppress and, when necessary, kill people deemed a threat to the nation. The ultimate power of government is always rooted in part on weaponry and the authority and willingness to use it.
With the exception of our superbly-trained Special Air Service Regiment and Commando regiments, hunting and killing is rarely on the mind of Australian Army personnel.
Based on the very extensive advertising and recruiting campaigns that the military services roll out every year, the main point of joining the armed forces is to gain skilled qualifications at no cost and see the world.
Don't mention the war.
For much of this year, in the Federal Court of Australia, the extensive resources of the ADF have been pitted against the threadbare resources of a single, sacked Army Reserve officer who the ADF is determined to ostracise, humiliate and terminate.
The ADF has been highly successful in ostracising him, not surprising given the military's long and inglorious record of tolerating hazing, bullying and bastardisation.
But as for terminating this officer, he has proved hard to kill.
Last Friday, a judgment handed down by Justice Robert Buchanan, Bernard Gaynor v Chief of the Defence Force (2015), found that the ADF had acted unlawfully in terminating the commission of Army Reserve Major Bernard (Bernie) Gaynor jnr.
He ordered that this termination be set aside.
Justice Buchanan wrote: "The applicant has strong views which he attributes to the teachings and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. As they relate to the events which led to the termination of his commission, those views were expressed as an antipathy to overt tolerance or support of homosexuality or transgender behaviour as well as statements critical of adherents of Islam.
"The applicant served in Iraq in 2006-7, 2008-9 and 2009 and also briefly in Afghanistan in 2006. He was awarded the United States of America Meritorious Service Medal in October 2009. His general competence is not in issue."
The 90,000-word judgment includes critical and unflattering observations about Gaynor's conduct, which included "a deliberate and calculated course of open defiance".
However, where it mattered the judge found in his favour: "The fact that [Gaynor's] conduct involved direct disobedience of orders does not sufficiently change matters … Freedom of political communication was burdened… [when] his commission as an officer was terminated… [His] conduct involved the expression of political opinion, effectively as a private citizen."
Justice Buchanan found that being sacked for holding personal political views, even in defiance of orders, was too fundamental a right to be quashed in the name of military discipline.
On Tuesday, Gaynor responded by writing in his blog: "Politicised militaries and democracies do not mix well."
The judgment will unnerve the military command. It is easy to see why. In a posting on Facebook in March, 2013, Gaynor wrote:
"The war in Afghanistan has been an utter failure but it is the government's domestic policies which have completely betrayed the efforts of soldiers serving on operations. In the time our Army has been in Afghanistan the number of Muslims in Australia has increased from around 280,000 to 476,000. Anyone who thinks Australia is safer as a result is deluded …
While our soldiers have been fighting, taking casualties and dying in Afghanistan to protect Australia's interests and values from violent Islamists our own government has allowed them to take root inside our borders."
He has since pointed out that twice as many Australian Muslims went to join Islamic State than are enlisted in the ADF. When I checked with Defence media they said there were 100 self-identified Muslims out of 81,000 ADF and Reserve personal. So Gaynor is right.
He has already begun his next battle. He will contest next year's federal election as the Senate candidate in Queensland for the Australian Liberty Alliance. He intends to remain in the Army Reserve.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.