The Story of Women and Power


Back in 1974, Masterpiece Theatre telecast a dramatization of the struggle in England for women’s suffrage titled “Shoulder to Shoulder.” Now Athena has a 3-part series that goes over the same material, but it starts centuries earlier. “The Story of Women and Power” is narrated, sometimes a little too passionately, by historian Amanda Vickery.

It is all quite fascinating and even the most devoted misogynist should sicken at the examples of how half the British population suffered under the male domination of husband, government, and church. For example, did you know “rule of thumb” refers to the law that kept husbands from beating their wives with a rod thicker than a thumb?

Actually the dramatization of 1974 was much more impressive, because the actions spoke for themselves. In this newer program, being told about it, no matter how bitterly, and seeing newspaper sketches of (say) women prisoners being force-fed is less personal. Notice that a film is about to be released about the British suffrage movement with Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst, which is doubtless the inspiration for the release of this 2015 documentary.

But the older series and “Women and Power” are– and the upcoming film doubtless will be–worth the watching.