I’ve been writing a lot about anniversaries lately, 2013 sees 20, 40, 60 years since some landmark events. In this article I’m going back 100 years, and you can decide about its importance, maybe even vote…
Of course the fact that we can vote in elections (and yes I accept it was a cheesy link!) is something we take for granted. It’s not something that’s true in every country, not by a long way, and 100 years ago in Britain, you couldn’t vote if you were woman.
The suffragette movement was well established by 1913, and the mass rallies and small acts of protest had seen some more militant members go to starting fires and causing real damage.
Lots of arrests on a regular basis, and one woman arrested many times was Emily Davison. A former governess, she had endured force feeding in prison, and by Spring of 1913 she was broke and unemployable.
So, with nothing to lose, she decided to go out with a bang. She took the train to Epsom race course, and as The Derby unfolded, she committed suicide by throwing herself under the King’s horse.
Or did she..?
I remember being taught about her suicide at school, but from watching some documentaries about her story, it seems that for many years it has been thought she didn’t intend to die at all.
She was carrying a scarf with the suffragette colours, and had intended to attach it to the bridle of the King’s horse, but it had gone wrong. So goes one theory, backed up by the fact that groups of women from the movement had been seen practising doing exactly that to horses on the gallop.
We’ll never know, just as we’ll not really know the effect her death had. The impending outbreak of World War 1 saw many changes in British society, not least the fact that women had to take over many of the men’s jobs as they all went off to the front lines.
That change had a lasting impact, and it could have been that as much as anything which brought in the vote for selected women, followed by full equal voting rights for women years later.
It might be hard to imagine not being able to vote, simply for being a woman – it’s particularly hard for me, since I’m a man(!), but I wouldn’t want the right taken away from me while it’s available to others.
It’s amazing, therefore, how many women (and men) don’t vote. They say they can’t be bothered, or that it won’t make any difference. Yes, there is a problem with ‘career’ politicians, who seem to make decisions based on keeping their job as their priority, but the fact remains, certainly in Britain, that our system is set up in a way that can make a difference, and is available for most people to take part.
I know, as I’ve stood for election twice.
As I campaigned, I was amazed at the ignorance of the system, at the quickness to moan and the equal quickness to declare non participation.
That can happen when we live in a steady, established system – it gets taken for granted, and that’s why the 100th anniversary of Emily Davison’s death is worth noting, to remind ourselves that it wasn’t always that way.
The racing industry and media made effort to mark it, and I think it’s a good idea to take a look at things we take for granted. Voting rights for women is one such abundance – not available to women back in 1913.
We have so much abundance around us, so much opportunity to take the bull by the horns and change things if we so choose – so, 100 years on from Emily Davison’s death, instead of slipping into the easy mode of moaning, how about rolling up the sleeves, getting stuck in and taking advantage of what we have available to us!
Ok, do let me know what you think, I love the feedback!
‘Til Next Time,
Health & happiness,
P.S. You might also enjoy this anniversary article: 20 Years Of Free Internet – 20 Years Of Opportunity?