Spoken word artist Bridget Minamore: 'We actively conspire to stop working class people voting'
- Lynsey May
- 20 December 2018
As we pass the 100-year anniversary of votes for women, Minamore asks why are we still fighting to have all voices heard
On December 14, we marked the 100-year anniversary of the first General Election where women were allowed to vote. A lot has changed in the last century and yet some equalities and attitudes remain steadfast. In her powerful piece, 100 Years of Conversation, spoken word artist Bridget Minamore calls on us to stay connected and vigilant for the prejudices still with us.
Created as part of Cause and Effect, a digital project by the Roundhouse investigating the complex effects the First World War has on the young people of today, Minamore's piece looks at the Suffragettes, women of colour, working-class women, voting, and the links and tensions between them all.
We asked Minamore what made her want to be part of that dialogue, she said: 'I wanted to become part of the conversation because I think it's a conversation I'm part of already. As a woman, as a woman from a working class background, as a black woman, as a woman who considers herself as feminist – I am part of the wider conversation around votes for women and classism in the feminist movement, whether I want to be or not.'
Creating a spoken word piece is also, for Minamore, a way of defining exactly where she stands in the conversation. And by looking at the circumstances that won the vote, she highlights the frictions that remained then and echo now. Votes for women meant votes for a certain type of woman.
Christabel Pankhurst, co-founder of Women's Social and Political Union and tireless fighter for the vote, believed a working women's movement was of no value. It's a sentiment that's still here. Minamore says: 'Around the world, around the western world, we don't just ignore large swathes of working class people, we also actively conspire to stop them voting.'
Public holidays on voting days, programmes to show young people their opinions are valued and changes in rules around who can vote and how could make a huge difference. But people have to want to make that difference. Plenty don't, and are happy to make that message clear.
Minamore explains: 'I think we're able to recognise the ways in which we're oppressed and kept down by so many people in places and positions of power and the feminist movement, the mainstream feminist movement, is part of that. I think a lot of middle class and upper class women do believe that working women are a hindrance as opposed to a help to the movement.'
This helps to create the idea there's a 'right kind' of woman. One who can join the fight. And that sets them in opposition to the 'wrong kind', who are just as deserving of a vote and a voice and the opportunity to speak up against oppression. And in 100 Years of Conversation, Minamore speaks eloquently about the things we still need to be talking about – and listening to. And you can watch it here: