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Thread: Meryl Streep's 'Suffragette' T-Shirt Sparks Backlash

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Default Meryl Streep's 'Suffragette' T-Shirt Sparks Backlash

    ‘I’d rather be a rebel than a slave’ is a quote from Emmeline Pankhurst, played by Streep in a new film, but for some the phrase evokes unfortunate associations



    Meryl Streep and three other cast members of the film Suffragette have been the subject of criticism online, after appearing in a photo shoot last week wearing T-shirts featuring a controversial slogan.
    “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave,” the slogan read, quoting a 1913 speech by women’s rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst. The photos were published in Time Out London alongside interviews with Streep, Carey Mulligan, Romola Garai andAnne-Marie Duff.

    On Twitter, the photos inspired ire over the alleged racial insensitivity of the use of the quote, which for some carried connotations of the American history of slavery and Confederate rebellion. While some applauded the use of the quote, others were less impressed.

    “Meryl Streep has to know better. And if not, her publicist should have,” wrote activist and organizer Deray McKesson.

    Pankhurst’s full quote: “I know that women, once convinced that they are doing what is right, that their rebellion is just, will go on, no matter what the difficulties, no matter what the dangers, so long as there is a woman alive to hold up the flag of rebellion. I would rather be a rebel than a slave.”

    According to Time Out, the quote used on the T-shirts encapsulates the “idea of finding your voice, keeping your nerve and fighting the impulse to be a ‘good girl’” – a powerful theme in the film.
    In a statement, Time Out acknowledged it had invited the lead actors from the film to wear the t-shirts with the quote, and said the context of the photoshoot and the feature “were absolutely clear to readers who read the piece” when it was published last week.
    “It has been read by at least half a million people in the UK and we have received no complaints,” the publication said.

    “The original quote was intended to rouse women to stand up against oppression - it is a rallying cry, and absolutely not intended to criticise those who have no choice but to submit to oppression, or to reference the Confederacy, as some people who saw the quote and photo out of context have surmised.”

    Others do not see it that way.
    This is the second time in a week that Streep has come under a harsh spotlight. Streep, who portrays Pankhurst in the film, disappointed bloggers by saying in the Time Out interview, when asked if she was a feminist: “I am a humanist, I am for nice, easy balance.”
    The film, set for release in the US later this month, centers on the first members of the British women’s suffrage movement.


    http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/oct/05/meryl-streep-backlash-suffragette-t-shirt-slogan

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    As if it weren't retarded enough that the professionally offended are now waging their war of perpetual outrage on figures of speech, they are also wrong and insensitive and possibly racist themselves because they assume that slaves are all black. There have been slaves of all ethnicities, including white.
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    Has anyone seen the the movie PCU? This is it.
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    Elite Member ana-mish-ana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    As if it weren't retarded enough that the professionally offended are now waging their war of perpetual outrage on figures of speech, they are also wrong and insensitive and possibly racist themselves because they assume that slaves are all black. There have been slaves of all ethnicities, including white.
    I've been seeing the backlash but pankhurst was associated and supported white supremacy which goes against her message about equality for women. Also there were women from other ethnic backgrounds who protested and were vocal but it looks like the movie whitewashed this and probably ignored Pankhurst's problematic past. This is a good article that covers this so I can see why people have issues over this. Its like with the recent stonewall movie which ignored a lot of things too.

    Racism and the suffragettes: the uncomfortable truth - Telegraph
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    As if it weren't retarded enough that the professionally offended are now waging their war of perpetual outrage on figures of speech, they are also wrong and insensitive and possibly racist themselves because they assume that slaves are all black. There have been slaves of all ethnicities, including white.
    In context there's nothing wrong with the quote but the words "rebel" and "slave" used together instantly conjure up the South. I don't think that's racist of me.
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    I look at it this way. A married woman owned nothing. It all belonged to her husband, including anything that was hers before the marriage. A woman who dared to leave her husband could be seized by the authorities and forcibly returned, regardless of what danger she would be in. A woman's children were not her own. They were legally the sole property of the husband. A woman was the property of her father until he passed her on to a husband, and she didn't always get a choice as to whether she wished to marry or not. A woman was a kind of currency to be traded for social and financial alliances and advantages by her father. Wives could legally be sold to another man, for whatever purposes her new 'husband' chose to put her to. A woman could be legally beaten by her husband, so long as he didn't use a stick that was thicker than his thumb. A woman couldn't be raped by her husband because she gave up the right to say no the second she said "I do". It goes on and on.

    Look over that again and replace "woman" and "wife" with "slave" and "husband" and "father" with "master" and maybe people will see why Mrs Pankhurst described it as slavery.

    Many young women today don't realise what life was like for a woman in the times before women's suffrage started to take hold, how far women have come and how far we have yet to go.
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    I like/dislike of Meryl comes and goes in waves. I'm starting not to like her again.

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton was also quoted making anti-black statements:

    "a serious question whether we had better stand aside and see 'Sambo' walk into the kingdom [of civil rights] first
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    I just don't find this to be news. We all know that she isn't referring to slaves from the south or inferring that she would rather be a slave owner or whatever the hell the PC police is trying to say.
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    I'm American and there's no way I associate "rebels" automatically with the Civil War.
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    My geeky ass thought Star Wars.
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    It wouldn't surprise me at all if the producers initiated this to generate interest for the film.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ana-mish-ana View Post
    I've been seeing the backlash but pankhurst was associated and supported white supremacy which goes against her message about equality for women. Also there were women from other ethnic backgrounds who protested and were vocal but it looks like the movie whitewashed this and probably ignored Pankhurst's problematic past. This is a good article that covers this so I can see why people have issues over this. Its like with the recent stonewall movie which ignored a lot of things too.

    Racism and the suffragettes: the uncomfortable truth - Telegraph
    she died in 1928. I would say the vast majority of people alive back then were racists. Does this mean that we should throw away the work the suffragettes did and ignore their role in history because of this? Maybe the movie did whitewash but so do all biopics. The founder of planned parenthood was also racist - I guess we should tell everyone fighting for PP to maintain their federal funding to stop and let the republicans win, right? Because their founder thought the way the vast majority of people thought back then.

    my whole issue with current feminism is that there's a tendency to want to censor and dismiss anything they deem "problematic" and to toss the baby with the bathwater. Everything and everyone is problematic, in some regard. All the moreso the further back you go in history. There's also soooo much white guilt in these circles that all criticism is reserved solely for white women and the only way they know how to discuss issues related to race is to self flagellate and it's so taboo because everyone is terrified of being called racist and basically that just makes it impossible to have an honest discussion and that's not how you solve anything.

    Soeaking of whitewashing in Hollywood - "straigh outta Compton" totally glosses over Dr. Dre's horrific treatment of women, including one female journalist he beat to a bloody pulp for daring to criticise him, among other horrific incidents. Many feminists of colour remained silent over this or came up with all kinds of excuses for still defending this movie. The hypocrisy is astounding.
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    ^^I can't stand gangsta rap primarily because of its built-in misogyny and homophobia.

    ETA: Reading about Denise Barnes right now.
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    Meh. I don't see the problem really.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoNoRehab View Post
    I'm American and there's no way I associate "rebels" automatically with the Civil War.
    I think "rebel" is too respectable a term to be applied to them. They were breakaway white supremacists. Rebel is too general and glosses over their malign intent.
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