Starting Millicent Fawcett, who supported a peaceful protest, Emmeline

Starting
with the foundation of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage by Millicent
Fawcett in 1897, the fight for women’s right to vote began. Unlike Millicent
Fawcett, who supported a peaceful protest, Emmeline Pankhurst, presented in the
film as the leader of the movement, considered that more direct and even
perhaps violent actions were needed, so she founded the Women’s Social and
Political Union (WSPU) in 1903. They became known as the Suffragettes, the
origin of the word “suffrage” coming
from French, meaning the right to vote. Their aim was winning the right to vote
for women through hunger strikes and violent methods. Bombing of the mail boxes
or breaking of the windows was part of their daily routine. Emmeline Pankhurst,
in her autobiography, explains this movement as something that has never
happened before and confirms that women suffered hard consequences by
participating in it: “this was the beginning
of a campaign the like of which was never known in England, or for that matter
in any other country…we interrupted a great many meetings…and we were
violently thrown out and insulted. Often we were painfully bruised and hurt.”

Most
of all, they wanted to be heard and seen. Since colours were always a sign of
recognition among people, they chose purple, white and green colours as colours
of their movement. “Purple, as everyone knows is the royal colour, it
stands for the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the
instinct of freedom and dignity…white stands for purity in private and public
life…green is the colour of hope and the emblem of spring.”1 Also, the robes they were wearing bear huge importance.
To show their affiliation to women’s movement and to wipe out any connection
with masculinity, they wore dresses as a sign of their womanhood.

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In
order to present their cause to people, they had their own banners with the
sign “Votes for Women”. As it is
shown in the film, their campaign was purposely neglected by the newspapers and
was constantly under attempt to be shut down. However, they could not be
stopped, and the proof for that is an act of Emily Davison in June 1913. She
threw herself in front of king’s horse at the Derby with a banner “Votes for Women” in her hand. She died
from the injuries she had received, but the news about her act had spread
worldwide. The footage of her death is also one of the first footages ever to
be filmed.

1 Quote
by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, editor of a weekly newspaper Votes for Women