The Suffragettes Didn’t Shrink From Dangerous Ideas And We Shouldn’t Either

Today is the centenary of the incredibly brave and successful campaign that the Suffragettes and Suffragists fought to extend the franchise to women. It is a reminder of people who took on real risks and were prepared to incur heavy penalties for something that so many of us simply take for granted in the present day.

It was a bold and progressive move that set the stage for universal voting rights in which all men and women, regardless of class, were able to actively participate in the electoral process.

Right now, however, the campaign for female equality seems to be in a more regressive phase that censors paintings which even mildly eroticise women. Last week, in a complete failure of both imagination and courage, the Manchester Art Gallery removed an artwork by the pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse called Hylas and the Nymphs based on a Greek myth where a young warrior Hylas is tempted away from his lover by a group of naked and alluring water nymphs. Apparently, the gallery wanted to “prompt a conversation” about the “old-fashioned” representation of women in Victorian art. Read More…