Created: Wednesday, 22 April 2015 11:01
Written by Carol Brickley
History is written, by and large, by the ruling class and serves its interests in promoting its world view. So when the BBC recently screened its history of women’s struggles for the vote in Britain, ‘Suffragettes Forever’, presented by Professor Amanda Vickery, we were treated to a very partial account which deliberately minimised the participation of working class women (boiling it down to the Bryant & May ‘matchgirls’ strike of 1888) and completely erasing the part played by socialist and communist women leaders, namely Eleanor Marx and Sylvia Pankhurst. In Vickery’s history, the struggle for women’s rights, including the vote, was a limited feminist pursuit: a battle by women against men to achieve equality – starting with Queen Victoria (!) and ending with Lady Astor. There was a different political perspective, however, that saw this battle as part of the struggle, led by the working class, to liberate men and women from wage slavery and oppression. Both Eleanor Marx and Sylvia Pankhurst organised and fought explicitly in opposition to the bourgeois feminists whom Vickery favours as the heroines of the struggle. That is why bourgeois history prefers to consign them to oblivion.
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