This week my inspiration for Feminism Friday came, rather surprisingly, from the National Portrait Gallery. I took the afternoon off work yesterday to go and see the Glamour of the Gods exhibition and to explore the free exhibitions and recent acquisitions in one of my favourite museums in London. I’ve not been there for a while, and it was like delving into a treasure trove every time I turned a corner and discovered something new. Although it was fantastic to see Chris Floyd’s striking photographic portrait of Cailtin Moran hanging in the gallery, this was not my inspiration for today’s post. Instead, it was something I found in the gift shop. Alongside all the stuff aimed at kids, to teach them about some of the historical eras that the gallery’s collections focus on, I found some packs of replica historical documents. Just the sort of thing I love rummaging through! However, this became even more fascinating when I realised that there were a couple of rather feminist sets in the collection.
There was a Suffragettes memorabilia pack containing a replica Votes for Women newspaper, membership card, poster, jail letter, Buckingham Palace flier, bail notice, propaganda pamphlet, Hyde Park programme and some photos of Suffragettes with a “get out of gaol” game printed on the back. Wonderfully inspiring stuff that makes it much easier to see just how hard these women fought for our right to vote. There is also a Women’s War pack which contains a Life in the WRNS booklet, Home Companion magazine, hand written letter, Land Army flyer, wartime recipes, A Woman’s Place pamphlet, WAAF leaflet and a selection of images from posters of the time. Again, looking through these documents really emphasises just how important women were to the running of the country during World War II. Much more so than simply reading about it in a book.
I really hope that young girls will buy or get given these – whether or not they are studying the subjects at school – as this is most certainly a history lesson that every woman needs. We are powerful. We can make a difference. We just need to want it.