friday fun: "sister suffragette"

Today my research group in Collective Memory is presenting our project on collective memory and the passage of the 19th Amendment (ratified 18 August 1920). To celebrate both the end of the semester and women's "political equality" I thought I'd bring you a little something that was my earliest introduction to the suffrage movement.

A lot of feminist ink has been spilled on the subject of Disney films and the myriad ways they reify gender, racial, and other stereotypes. Today, however, I'd like highlight the fact that Glynis Johns singing "Sister Suffragette" in the 1964 Mary Poppins musical was my introduction, if not to feminism, certainly to the militant suffragist movement.

Regardless of what Disney may or may not have wanted me to glean from the sequence (is Mrs. Banks a bad mother for neglecting her children in order to attend political rallies?), as a six-year-old child I knew where the action was at: it was unequivocally with Mrs. Banks marching about and singing with heartfelt enthusiasm.

Lyrics: (courtesy of allthelyrics.com):

We're clearly soldiers in petticoats
And dauntless crusaders for woman's votes
Though we adore men individually
We agree that as a group they're rather stupid!

Cast off the shackles of yesterday!
Shoulder to shoulder into the fray!
Our daughters' daughters will adore us
And they'll sing in grateful chorus
'Well done, Sister Suffragette!'

From Kensington to Billingsgate
One hears the restless cries!
From ev'ry corner of the land:
'Womankind, arise!'
Political equality and equal rights with men!
Take heart! For Mrs. Pankhurst has been clapped in irons again!
No more the meek and mild subservients we!
We're fighting for our rights, militantly!
Never you fear!

So, cast off the shackles of yesterday!
Shoulder to shoulder into the fray!
Our daughters' daughters will adore us
And they'll sing in grateful chorus
'Well done! Well done!
Well done Sister Suffragette!'


  1. Thanks for posting this. I think this was my first exposure to the women's suffrage movement as well and I remember my mum using it to start a discussion about women's rights.

  2. Wow, for better or worse those Disney movies did have an impact. Maybe Ben Bernanke should have sung the "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank" song about our tuppence being, "patiently, cautiously trustingly invested" in all the great things of the British Empire. He might have at least impressed a few of those boomer congressmen and women. Thanks for a Friday afternoon treat!

  3. Can I link to this on my blog? I just wrote about Disney's many feminist fails, and I totally forgot about this video! It would make a nice counterpart and redeem Disney somewhat ;)

  4. Hi Saskia,

    Sure! Feel free to link as you like. And in response to your question about St. Nicholas Day, my family always celebrated it on the night of the 5th-6th. This is possibly because it was part of the Dutch-American community in Holland, Mich., rather than the Netherlands...? I'm not sure!