Sunday, October 24, 2010

Women's Rights (1899)

A century before Little Britain's Emily and Florence first assaulted our screens, a pair of equally rubbish transvestites could be spotted in this short comedy. Our cross-dressing housewives are enjoying a gossip before they're abused by a couple of men. The film doesn't make clear why they deserve this attack, but an accompanying set of cards produced by the production company indicates that the ladies were engaged in a discussion about the then pressing political issue of women's suffrage.
It's hard not to suspect a degree of misogyny on the behalf of not only the abusing men, but also the filmmakers. There's no record of why the housewives should have been played by an amateur drag act, but perhaps it's nothing more than that noble British tradition of men slipping into frocks at the drop of a hat. (Robin Baker)

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