In this society, in this country, there is a very long history of struggle – Parliamentary and extra-Parliamentary – to achieve real social, economic and political gains, in all aspects of life, at work and in the home. Struggles to attain rights specifically for women are part of this long history. The movement to gain emancipation; parity and the vote; to be accepted as fully-fledged members of society; to show their face – metaphorically and literally – in society and in the political arena, is a major part of the social and political history of England.
Over many years the suffragettes struggled and suffered and went to jail to achieve these objectives, specifically to achieve the right to vote. They did not fight to achieve anonymity, but on the contrary, to have a public face and a public voice.
Many of the advances made are neither irreversible, nor permanent; they have to be constantly fought for. The campaign for improved society and working conditions in the building industry is a good example of a permanently live issue, currently being fought for – again.
To argue for the reasonableness of appearing in public, on the street, body enclosed as in a sack, face masked, is to argue directly against everything the suffragettes fought for. They would have been taken aback, there is no doubt, by the preparedness of a minority of a minority of women to flout the advances which took years of commitment to gain. They would surely have regarded it as an intolerable affront.
Yours D Harrop