Time Out magazine in London has released a statement addressing the controversy surrounding their promotional photoshoot for upcoming movie Suffragette.
Director Sarah Gavron's (Brick Lane) new film is a dramatic retelling of the British suffragette movement and stars Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst. The cast also features Carey Mulligan, Romola Garai, Anne-Marie Duff and Ben Whishaw.
For the September 29-October 5 edition of Time Out London, the four female leads posed in white t-shirts with the slogan 'I'd rather be a rebel than a slave'.
The images sparked a twitter storm, with criticism of the t-shirt's use of loaded terminology typically associated with the American Civil War.
In response to the online backlash, Time Out London released a statement saying:
'This is a quote from a 1913 speech given by Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the historic British suffragettes whose fight for equality is portrayed in the movie. The original quote was intended to rouse women to stand up against oppression - it is a rallying cry, and absolutely not intended to criticise those who have no choice but to submit to oppression, or to reference the Confederacy, as some people who saw the quote and photo out of context have surmised.
'Pankhurst’s full quote was: 'I know that women, once convinced that they are doing what is right, that their rebellion is just, will go on, no matter what the difficulties, no matter what the dangers, so long as there is a woman alive to hold up the flag of rebellion. I would rather be a rebel than a slave.''
However commentor Jamilah Lemieux writes in Ebony magazine:
'The offense is not at Pankhurst’s words, but that someone could actually think it’s no big deal to put those words on a shirt with a bunch of smiling White actresses promoting a film about a movement that was often times extremely racist and failed to center Black female voices, and for those shirts to be worn for primarily U.K. and U.S. audiences—considering the specific relationship to slavery had by both places.'
The Time Out publication also included short interviews with the actors. When Meryl Streep was asked if she was a feminist, she responded: "I am a humanist, I am for nice easy balance."
Suffragette will open in Australia on Boxing Day.