Voices of Generations Past

Holloway Prison. Hunger Strikes. Force-feeding. Social issues. Economic problems. Struggles. The Pankhursts. Militant efforts. Exile. Abuse. Blood…

I had spilt blood for my cause. My own blood and others. I had followed so diligently, despite the wishes of my husband and father. Despite demands and strict orders to get ‘my head out of the clouds’.

But a woman shouldn’t have had to daydream about being able to use her money. Her own money that she worked so hard to earn. Yes…perhaps I did not have to work, but I needed to. Perhaps not for the same reason as you have to work for your money…you need to because it is a necessity now. I needed to in order to feel as if I was doing something.

So I wouldn’t go crazy and so that I wouldn’t merely be a house wife.

Our needs are different, yours and mine. That doesn’t mean that we’re not on the same side.

*     Definition of Suffragette:     *
Noun. Historical
a woman seeking the right to vote through organized protest.

My soul isn’t at rest. That’s why I’m here. I’m able to witness the similarities in our societies. Yours still does not provide equality. Is it not obvious to the rest of your fellow men and women? However, at least you have better opportunities than I ever had.

We – myself and fellow women – had to fight for the vote. For our voices to be heard. We lost so many people during that long, needless battle before it was finally won in 1918. Many say that it was coming our way soon regardless, but politicians say that they brought it in because the people deserved the vote. Especially with the sacrifices made during the Great War.

They have no idea just how much we truly sacrificed.

Do you? Do you know what we had to do? Who we lost?

 

*     Emily Wilding Davidson     *
A militant suffragette.
Jailed: nine times. Force-fed: forty-nine times.
Cause of death: King George V’s horse…

Look at society now. With your strange miniature telephones and those fast food restaurants – if that’s even what they’re called – that make me feel sick just at the sight of those blaring lights. Motorcars had just been let loose onto our streets and even then, only the rich could truly afford them. Now they’ve invaded every town, city and even countryside. Fields and hills stretched for miles, not city landscapes. Education was limited, as was benefit support. You’re luckier today than I was years ago.

I am unsure as to if I should be proud of the twenty-first century woman, or disappointed. Many of you are models of pride, taking everything that we fought to provide to future generations of women.

You are able to get actual jobs, not just be a wife. You don’t need to rely completely on your husbands or men in general. You can own your own property and support your children without a male influence. You can spend your own money without any input from anyone else.

You can vote. You can help decide what government party rules. You’re an influence and you actually care about what happens and about having a voice.

I just wish that could be the same for all of you…

*     98 Years On   *
Modern age of 2016.
Location: Suburban London, England,
Great Britain.

“Why should I vote? There’s nota need for it. It’s not as if I’ma make much difference to this gover’ment.”

 

*     Modern Day Woman:     *
Non-voter.
Freckles. Grey-blue eyes. Dark hair. British.
Married.

How could she not care? This non-voter, this non-believer. How dare she be so ignorant to her past!

Her arms are folded and body slumped up against the doorframe as her eyes, narrowed and suspicious, run over the figure before her. “Who said I’m gonna be voting for this Labour whatever? Maybe I wanna vote for these Tories or whatever they’re called. Not that it matt-ahs. No politician gives a shit.”

Please inform me that not all women are like this? That not all of them squander their ability to vote for what they want?

“Maybe not, but you can have your voice heard by voting for the Labour party.”

*     Name tag:    *
Edith
Your Labour Representative

This one…she’s different. Thank you All Mighty Lord in Heaven! This one is different!

Droplets form along the promoter’s hairline as she pulls softly at the neck of her shirt, a redness creeping up along her neck and staining the tops of her ears.

“Well-well ah…how do you know? How about you take one of our manifestos and-”

Little Edith takes a step back as the woman before her straightens up, expression souring, “What did you just call me you interfering li’le shite?”

Sweet Lord in Heaven…really believing that a manifesto was an insult…what next?

Edith swallows thickly, hand trembling as she reached to her clipboard to pull one of the leaflets from the clip. “I-I just wanted to offer one of the party’s manifestos. It tells you what they intend to do and-”

The Non-Voter huffs, settling back into her post against the doorframe, “Oh. Righ’. I know what that mani-thing is. I ain’t stupid, love-”

*     Lesson of the day:    *
Some of these modern women are just as
unintelligible as the men in Parliament back in my day.

“-And I don’t want noth-ink from you or ya stinking party. There’s noth-ink you lot can do for me or my kids or my husband. Besides, he’ll probably vote instead. He can vote for the both of us.”

How could she? Not a single damn given! Forgive me Lord, for such foul language, but it’s hard to be kind and polite when such disgrace and ungrateful attitude inhabits the world.

Edith’s hand lowers slightly, manifesto still clutched between fingers. The spark in her eyes is dimming slightly and her feet shuffle on the spot. “But why have your husband vote for the both of you if you have a vote to use for yourself? What if you don’t agree with who he wants to vote for?”

“Are you questioning my marriage-” Her eyes squint as she focuses on the name badge for the first time since opening the door, “-Edith? My man and I agree on almost anything. So take your bitchy judgements elsewhere, alrigh’?”

*     Note to self:    *
There are still women, in this modern
age, that still wish to be represented by
their husbands.

“Nah, and I couldn’t give two bloody shites-”

“People were killed trying to draw attention to the fight for women to have votes!”

*     Memento:    *
The fight is still being fought.
Lessons are still being taught.

The Non-Voter huffs, straightening with a hand moving to rest on the door, obviously ready to slam it in Edith’s face. “Look, I’ve already told you, love. I ain’t interested in this shite that you’re trying to sell. Now clear off!”

But Edith isn’t done yet.

Fight. Tell her! You know what has happened…I can tell you know!

Taking a step forward, her brow furrows with controlled irritation and her knuckles begin to turn white from how tightly the clipboard is being held in hand.

“You have no idea what you’re giving up, Missus. Decades ago, women would have done anything to have a voice of their own instead of being silenced or laughed at! Women everywhere were being arrested, jailed, and locked up for weeks, even months. They went on hunger strikes and to keep from giving other suffragettes everywhere martyrs, the government allowed them to be force-feed.”

Edith’s once nervous attitude hardens, leaving her gaze cold and tight-lipped as she stares down the woman that had been disrespecting her and all her beliefs just moments ago.

“You have no idea what those women suffered through. And for what? For uneducated, unintelligent and dim-witted time wasters like you to throw away everything they had worked to achieve for years,” a small chuckle sounds without any hint of humour, “All because you’re too feckless to get off your arse and vote.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. How I wish I could knock that woman’s head against a wall as thick as her skull! How vile it is that our efforts have been in vain for women such as this one before Edith.

The Non-Voter’s lips part and eyes widen at Edith’s speech, rendering her a voiceless as she would be without a vote. It’s only when the party representative turns and begins to leave does she finally find something pitiful to say:

“I-You can’t talk to me like tha’! I’ll-I’ma be reportin’ you to the council! To your party!”

Instead of panicking about the consequences or offering a form of apology, laughter rings out from Edith instead as she keeps her back to the woman. “And why would you do that?”

“B-Because I have an opinion! I won’t be spoken to like this! You won’t get away with this!”

Edith finally glances over her shoulder, eyebrow raised and the corners of her lips pulling upward, “That’s funny. I didn’t think you cared enough for your voice to be heard.”

*     Fact:    *
More people like Edith are needed.
Our story must be spread. Our trials and struggles heard.
Our fight must be continued, even in this society.

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