字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 Hello lovely people, Due to UK government advice as an at risk person I’m isolating myself in my house for 12 weeks, so… [slurp sfx] I don’t want to talk about coronavirus too much because I think if you’ve clicked on this video you’re probably looking to think about ANYTHING ELSE but I hope you’re all doing well, whether you’re in isolation or keeping on keeping on. If you’re one of the wonderful people working to help the rest of us stay alive then you have my utmost respect. Whether you’re a front line medical worker or a driver delivering food and essentials to those who can’t leave the house, you’re making this very difficult time more bearable for us all so thank you. - also, I’m really hoping that if you’re watching this in a few months time that the corona pandemic feels like a weird, shared nightmare and that everything is now back to normal. Leave me a comment if that’s the case. I look forward to the day when the majority of comments are just ‘everything is fine now’. To cheer us on I thought we should have a little history session and learn about someone inspirational, who had to get through tough times and kept fighting for what she believed in: Rosa May Billinghurst, a rule-breaking disabled suffragette. If you’re interested in learning more about amazing disabled or queer people from history then I suggest you check out my Historical Profiles playlist, where you can learn the history you SHOULD have been taught in school. Subscribe if you like history and queerness and…. disabledness? Or if you need some videos that are kind of calm but slightly amusing. If you’ve seen my video ‘Why Not All Disabled People Want To Be Seen As An Inspiration’ (link in the description and card above), you’ll know that I don’t use the term ‘inspiration’ lightly and I certainly would not use it about someone purely because they had a disability but kept on living their life. - because just being disabled isn’t, in itself, inspirational. It’s just… life. However, should said disabled person have an attitude that inspires others to make positive change in the world THEN they are ‘inspirational’. And Rosa was certainly that. Rosa May Billinghurst was born on the 31 May 1875, to banker Henry Farncombe Billinghurst and his wife Rosa Ann (Brinsmead) Billinghurst, in Lewisham, London. She was the second of nine children in a well-educated, middle-class family. As a small child she contracted polio, much like President Roosevelt, who I talked about in my last Historical Profile. The illness left her paralysed from the waist down and she wore leg irons, using crutches or a modified tricycle to move around. She spent the early years of her adult life working with the poor and teaching at a Sunday school. Along with her sister, Alice, she volunteered to work with children in the Deptford slums, local workhouse inmates and prostitutes. Exposure to injustice increased her interest in politics and thus turned her towards the issue of women’s suffrage, ie. the right to vote. For many suffrage campaigners, having the vote was about the change they could affect for others by taking part in politics. It was felt at the time that politicians, who were obviously all male… and wealthy… didn’t care for the plight of poor families or unsupported women because these were ‘women’s issues’. - Even though they didn’t allow women into politics to deal with said ‘women’s issues’ so: logic? They had none. Well, to be fair, they just assumed that all women were ‘illogical’ so they by default had the logic. They did not. Rosa believed that women’s inferior position in society was impeding its progress and that giving women the vote would help ALL people. Including the powerful men. If only they would let her help them! She joined the Women’s Social and Political Union, the WSPU, known colloquially as ‘The Suffragettes’ in 1907, at the age of 32. She was a dedicated member and three years later founded the Greenwich Branch of the WSPU. Founded in 1903 The Women's Social and Political Union was founded as an independent women's movement by Emmeline Pankhurst along with her daughters, Christabel and Sylvia, and her husband, Richard. However, membership of the WSPU was open to women only and had no party affiliation. They were described for the first time as ‘suffragettes’ in January 1906 by the Daily Mail, which supported women’s sufferage. - yes. THAT Daily Mail. We’re not all proud of our grandchildren. In 1905, the group convinced the Liberal MP Bamford Slack to introduce a women’s sufferage bill, which spurred publicity and the rapid expansion of the group but was ultimately talked out or ‘filibustered’. Following the failure of the bill, the WSPU changed tracks and focused on attacking whichever political party was in government by campaigning against any legislation which did not include enfranchisement for women. - mmmm…. Not necessarily a good look since that translated into abandoning other social reforms. In 1906 an envoy of 300 women, representing over 125,000 suffragettes, argued for women's suffrage with the Prime Minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. Who said… - wait for it… That he agreed with their argument but "was obliged to do nothing at all about it" and so urged the women to "go on pestering" and to exercise "the virtue of patience" - I know. A man told a woman to shut up and be patient. That ended really well for him Some of the women Sir Henry foolishly advised to be patient had been working for women's rights for as many as fifty years and they really took the “go on pestering” advice to heart. The WSPU membership then became known for civil disobedience and direct action. They heckled politicians, held demonstrations and marches, broke windows in prominent buildings, set fire to post boxes, committed night-time arson of unoccupied houses and churches and broke the law to force arrests. - how you feeling now, Sir Henry? The Labour Party voted to support universal sufferage in 1907 (meaning the right to vote for all adult citizens, regardless of wealth, income, gender, social status, ethnicity, etc). Not all of the WSPU were keen on this however, as their leadership had always accepted the property qualifications which already applied to women's participation in local elections. - wow. Privileged white ladies not helping those less fortunate than themselves… so strange (!) I’m just saying: Suffragettes were great in many ways, and it’s right that we celebrate them but their feminism wasn’t exactly intersectional… Under Christabel's direction, the group began to more explicitly organise exclusively among middle-class women, and stated their opposition to all political parties. This led a small group of prominent members to leave and form the Women's Freedom League. It was around this time that Rosa May Billinghurst joined the WSPU - that’s not me calling her out, I’m just saying. Despite the difficulties of navigating life with a disability in the early 1900s, Rosa was a dedicated WSPU member and became one of its best known militants. She organised events and meetings, was a regular in processions AND took part in demonstrations. She relied on what was referred to as an ‘invalid tricycle’: a very high tech wheelchair for the time, it was modeled on a tricycle and propelled by hand controls. One veteran of the suffrage movement wrote, “I remember hearing startling stories of her running battles with the police. Her crutches were lodged on each side of her self propelling invalid chair, and when a meeting was broken up or an arrest being made, she would charge the aggressors at a rate of knots that carried all before her.” Rosa’s presence at marches attracted a lot of attention. She dressed in white and wheeled along with her machine decked out in coloured WSPU ribbons and “Votes for Women” banners. Through this she became a recognizable public figure who drew attention to the movement, often talked about in the mainstream newspapers as “the cripple suffragette.” - side note: YES, physically disabled people ARE allowed to call ourselves ‘crippled’ or ‘crip’. NO, that does not mean other people can unless stated. Along with being a regular fixture at peaceful protests, Rosa was drawn to militant action and in 1910, she participated in Black Friday (different to the stock market Black Friday and the shopping Black Friday). The demonstration on the 18th November saw 300 women march to the Houses of Parliament and earned its name from the violence meted out to the protestors by the police and male bystanders, some of which was sexual. The women were attacked for six hours that day before the police finally called things off. And two women later died from their injuries. Police arrested 115 women and 4 men, although the following day all charges were dropped. - I couldn’t find any evidence of whether the 4 men who were arrested were ones who had attacked the women or ones who supported them. It’s worth remembering that whilst membership of the WSPU was restricted to women only there were many men who supported the cause of women’s suffrage. Rosa was taken from her tricycle by the police and thrown down a side street. They removed the valves from her tyres and bent her arms painfully behind her back, forcing her fingers into odd angles. She was left on the floor, surrounded by a “hooligan crowd”, she later reported, completely at the mercy of those around her. Not easily deterred, Rosa was back a few days later for the next protest and this time used her tricycle as a battering ram to get through police lines, now with new, stronger valves. Her belief in the cause was much stronger than any thoughts of personal safety despite the willingness of the police to exploit her physical disability. The violence of Black Friday led to a change in approach as the WSPU were unwilling to risk similar violence again so resumed their previous forms of direct action such as stone-throwing and window-breaking, which gave them time to escape. Between 1910 and 1912 Parliament considered various bills to give some women the vote, but ultimately none of them passed. In response, the WSPU organised a window smashing campaign in March 1912, leading to 220 arrests. Rosa’s first arrest was for obstructing police but she soon moved to smashing windows and in March 1912 she was sent to Holloway Prison (renowned for being an awful women’s prison). She had been working with another suffragette, Janie Allan, to cause property damage with Rosa hiding a supply of stone under the rug that covered her knees. She was sentenced to one month's hard labour but the prison authorities were confused about what that actually meant for someone who couldn't walk so gave her no extra work. She received another eight month sentence for her role in the December 1912 attacks on pillar boxes but this time she took part in the hunger strikes. Please skip to the time seen on screen if you’re triggered by food. In opposition to the continuing and repeated imprisonment of many of their members, the Suffragettes began the practice of hunger striking. Once imprisoned the members would refuse all food, forcing their release. Authorities attempted to combat this with force feeding, which I really won’t explain because it’s awful and likely to be triggering for a lot of you even though I did tell people to skip this. These brutal measures won the women great sympathy with the public, which didn’t go down well with the government. In response they passed the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act 1913, more commonly known as the "Cat and Mouse Act", which allowed the release of suffragettes who were close to death due to malnourishment. Officers, however, could re-imprison them again once they were healthy. It's the same way cats play with mice They let them go and they catch them, they let them go and they catch them, but really they have the power the whole time. Rosa was released after just two weeks following brutal force feeding sessions that left her incredibly ill and with broken teeth. She wrote and protested force feeding once she was released, publishing graphic accounts of her experience in suffrage journals, inspiring sympathetic MPs to raise the atrocities of force feeding in parliament. She was later given a Hunger Strike Medal ‘for valour’. This, of course, didn’t slow her down and she carried on campaigning by chaining herself to the railings of Buckingham Palace. She spoke in public meetings and despite the police tipping her out of her wheelchair on a number of occasions, nothing could hold Rosa back. On the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Christabel Pankhurst, then head of the organisation, declared over the objections of others that the WSPU should suspend its campaigns in favour of nationalism and supporting the British government in the war effort. This was a move Rosa supported although it led to the WSPU fading from public attention and being dissolved in 1917 when Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurt founded the Women’s Party, a political party that advocated for a number of feminist policies. These included: maternity and infant care, equal pay for equal work, equal marriage and divorce laws, equality of parental rights (bear in mind at this point women and children were essentially still the property of the husband) and raising the age of consent. Christabel said that the Women’s Party stood ‘first for the defence of our frontiers, and then reforms inside our frontiers, to make life worth living and fighting for’. Which sounds great until you know that meant shaming men who didn’t want to fight in the army, abolishing the trade unions, preventing people with German parentage from gaining British nationality and smacking people in the face with colonialism by bringing natural resources from around the British Empire under British control. Oh and obviously they were still only interested in giving wealthy middle-class women the vote, not those darn poor ones. - Again: ‘Suffragettes: Great. Still Problematic Though.’ [on screen like a movie title] The Women’s Party was launched at a time of growing domestic support for the left-wing Labour Party and the rise of Bolshevism in Russia. Which rather endered it to the right wing government. Finally in 1918, at the tailend of the First World War, Parliament passed an act granting the vote to all men and women over the age of 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5, (which as a lot) and graduates of British About 8.4 million women gained the vote. We all owe the Suffragettes a great debt for getting the ball rolling when it came to universal suffrage. In the years after the suffrage era, Rosa remained committed to the cause, joining the Suffragette Fellowship and supporting Christabel Pankhurst’s ultimately unsuccessful election campaign for The Women’s Party in 1918 (although it was very close). Rosa is an inspiring example of someone who fought for what she believed in, no matter the personal cost, or the hurdles she had to surmount. As an active participant in the battle for women’s emancipation she showed that suffrage was universal and that people of all types just want their voices to be heard. I feel really weird about the number of articles I read about Rosa that mention how she ‘overcame’ her disability to become a suffragette and my personal opinion is that she no more ‘overcame’ her disability than she ‘overcame’ being a woman. Both were aspects of her that she celebrated and fought to have recognised as being no lesser than anyone else and it does her a disservice to say otherwise. It’s worth noting that she wasn’t the only disabled suffragette: Adelaide Knight was another activist with mobility issues who campaigned whilst using crutches and a stick. Knight was a key figure in the East End women’s movement and also chained herself to the railings outside Buckingham Palace. Apparently, a common pastime. She was similarly arrested and served a prison sentence. And I’m sure there were many more, even if not recorded. They show us that we can still fight for what we believe in, that we can be disabled but also have the space to take on other issues, that we don’t just have to be one thing. Rosa May Billinghurst is listed, with her name and picture, alongside those of 58 other women’s suffrage supporters on the plinth of the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square in London, which was unveiled in 2018, 100 years after she won the vote. Whatever it is you believe in, whatever goal you want to achieve, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t at least try, that you aren’t as important or as valid or as noticeable as anyone else. You have your voice and you have your rights and if you don’t… well then smash your wheelchair into some policeman’s ankles and see what happens! - by which I mean ‘maybe start with peaceful protest first and see what happens’! Thank you so much for watching, if you’ve enjoyed this video please subscribe, have a browse of my merch shelf below the video and I’ll see you next time. Stay safe!