Suffragette's Bad Marketing: 'I’d Rather Be A Rebel Than A Slave' Is Insensitive To Women Of Color

Suffragette’s Bad Marketing: ‘I’d Rather Be A Rebel Than A Slave’ Is Insensitive To Women Of Color

For generations, segregation denied black women the right to be active participants in the women’s rights movement. Our ideas may have been welcomed but not our bodies. Therefore, when we see a marketing campaign of exclusively white women wearing a t-shirt with the words “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave,” in big, bold, black words, we could care less that it’s a PR stunt to elicit attention for the movie “Suffragette,” about the birth of British women’s feminism and political activism.

What occurs with such a “tone deaf” image is a process of collective freak-out, including an absolute freak-out to truth. History and realism be damned, the black community is tired of excuses over a lack of awareness to common decency. Therefore, why should we care that “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave,” is an accurate quote from political activist Emmeline Pankhurst? If the entertainment business is complacent with being irreverent, so shall we too.

We keep repeating this cycle and I for one am exhausted.

Just like I was exhausted when soap opera star Nancy Lee spoke out against Viola Davis speech at the Emmy’s in a tweet saying:

“I wish I loved #ViolaDavis Speech but I thought she should have let @shondarhimes write it.”

What in Davis speech irked Lee?

“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there,” adding, “So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people … people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.”

Where did Davis’s cross the line for Lee in mentioning lack of opportunity for black women? Do black women not have the right to opportunity or are we only good for being raped, nourishing white people’s children, and being murdered? Or better yet, silent.

(FYI, Shonda Rhimes would have written a similar speech Ms. Lee!)

Maybe Ms. Lee is just a professional hater of all things in life that does not include her. Oh, wait. Lee  tweeted about Patricia Arquette writing:

“Good, use your win to champion women…”

This was in support of Arquette’s Oscars speech

“It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

But Arquette is a white woman, of course.

What Lee displayed is elitism. It was okay for Arquette to discuss the plight of women but for Davis to do the same, it wasn’t. The same goes for the marketing of “Suffragette,” white women suffered and fought to end oppression, but black women, well.

This is not progress, this is backwards re-appropriation. Emmeline Pankhurst was a slave to what, her whiteness? Black women slaves, what, they brought it on themselves? I just don’t get it.

I digress.

If only all feminists supported all feminists, we would have surpassed our progress. But sadly, we are a polarized nation. Even sadder, black people continue to be the brunt of it all. What occurs is: Feminists, as well as the entertainment business, keeping forgetting or refuse to acknowledge, much less care, that black people are human beings. We fucking have feelings. In no time would it have passed the smell test to profit from profiteering off of Jewish people and the Holocaust. Could you imagine the marketing of a movie about the Holocaust where they used a quote from Hitler to promote it? Especially a quote so blind like, “Who says I am not under the special protection of God?”

The time is now for the entertainment business to grow a brain, and think twice about using its power in communities, and nix using comments made by well-intended persons blinded by privilege. Emmeline Pankhurst is a woman to respect and admire, just like Meryl Streep and all the other actress in the “Suffragette” movie are. Still, this does not dismiss my disappointment that not one person from the team spoke up to question or have an important conversation about the outcome of perception − or maybe that voice was silenced?

The impression of the quote is that one can easily escape physical oppression.

Slavery was not a choice one could easily remove from. It was entrapment and brainwashing and violent. We would never think to tell a rape victim that hey, “I’d rather be a rebel than slave.” It’s ludicrous in its assumption and insensitive to the victims’ pain.

Stories of oppression and vigor for freedom are important stories to tell — especially stories about women rising to the tide in spite of oppression.

I get we live in a capitalist society, however, what’s wrong with considering the feelings of others too? What’s wrong with reneging on controversy? Sometimes bad press is bad press.

*The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not reflect Reverb Press.

Feature image via Wikimedia Creative Commons

Quiana Fulton is a political writer, and she has a bachelor in political science from American Military University. She’s not jaded by polarization but absolutely has no time for people who refuse to partake in preserving and strengthening Democracy. She’s a staunch liberal that is capable of being friends with conservatives and is always down for a good debate. She’s a pro-life Dem (and yes, they exist).

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Quiana Fulton is a political writer, and she has a bachelor in political science from American Military University. She’s not jaded by polarization but absolutely has no time for people who refuse to partake in preserving and strengthening Democracy. She’s a staunch liberal that is capable of being friends with conservatives and is always down for a good debate. She’s a pro-life Dem (and yes, they exist).

ReverbPress Mobile Apps ReverbPress iOS App ReverbPress Android App ReverbPress App