Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hustling Suffragette

I watched the soon-to-be-released film Suffragette this morning with maybe three other women in a cozy screening room in Beverly Hills. Those seats were cream-colored leather, wide and leaned back. The movie was moving and beautiful and informative, even for someone like myself who knows quite a bit about the English suffragette movement. It made me cry, and it made me angry in the same way that a war movie does -- the stupidity of it all, the energy wasted on oppressing human beings.  It never ceases to amaze me -- the mediocrity of oppression -- how men went to such lengths to keep women subservient, stripping them of their property, their dignity and even their children. The actors Carey Mulligan, Brendan Gleeson, Helena Bonham Carter and Ann-Marie Duff were all wonderful, and Meryl Streep had an excellent cameo. At the end of the film, a very effective list of the dates of universal suffrage for different countries in the world scrolled across the screen. I won't give it away, but it's pretty damn shocking.

After the screening we drove over to the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. I pulled into the driveway, right behind a shiny black Bentley with a license plate that read HUSTLR. I wondered if Larry Flynt was still alive, and later -- much later, like 5 minutes ago -- I googled "Larry Flynt's car" and sure enough, that was it. I looked for a man in a wheelchair when I walked through, but no Larry.

The three other women and I took an elevator up to a suite of rooms filled with twenty-somethings, none of whom spoke to us or even batted an eye or looked up, to tell you the truth, from their phones and laptops. They were arrayed all over the suite of rooms at tables and desks, on small sofas and standing in windows. I guess it was all the publicity and marketing people for the movie -- the business apparatus. I passed a small bathroom with some high stools in front of mirrors and make-up spread out on a table. Again, no one really spoke with us, and everyone seemed to know what they were doing, although it didn't look like they were doing much. I'm sure they were organizing, and making calls and arranging press junkets -- perhaps even hustling? No pun intended.

Again, the business of movie-making -- something to mull over -- suites in the Four Seasons to entertain the press and to high tea some bloggers. It's hard for me to not feel there's something gross about it all.

Eventually, we were led to another and larger room with two long tables laden with high tea -- or at least high tea, Four Seasons Beverly Hills-style. I saw some cucumber tea sandwiches, but I also noticed some lobster salad on blinis that placed me square in Beverly Hills in the Four Seasons in 2015.  Back in the last century, I was High Tea Girl at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. I  was a real hustler, then, no pun intended, making literally tens of thousands of sandwiches, and scones and Devonshire cream and tiny little tarts and chocolates (yes, real chocolates where you temper the chocolate and pour it into thick, frosted French molds that I later tapped on the edge of the marble pastry station and they'd fall out, shiny and perfect). But I digress. I took a scone and some cream and some lemon curd, filled a glass with French bottled water and placed a lime wedge inside of it, using silver tongs. Then I sat down at a round table with four other women and waited for the director, the producer and the screenplay writer to come in for the "roundtable discussion."

They were all lovely, and our conversation was spirited and interesting and mostly about how little people really do know about the suffragette movement, how much young women, in particular, take for granted their relative freedoms and how harrowing the path to suffrage. The filmmakers were then hustled, no pun intended, out of the room for their next meeting, so I ambled back downstairs, through the lobby and gave my ticket to the valet who brought up my sexy White Mazda, into which I jumped and drove off back to my normal life -- which I vastly prefer.

I do recommend that you hustle to see Suffragette -- take every boy and girl and woman and man you know -- and then say a little prayer of thanksgiving for those women that went before you. Oh, and exercise your right to suffrage, when the time comes. Hustle. Vote.

(I was not paid to write this post, but I did get a free screening of the movie, as well as delightful treats!)


  1. Sounds like a fun outing. Seeing Larry Flynt's car makes it so Hollywood. Aren't there still some countries that don't have universal suffrage? It's always been hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that women were so recently disenfranchised -- it's so ridiculous and wrong. I saw Carey and Meryl on the Graham Norton Show here, touting this movie. I did not get high tea, though. :)

  2. See? This would NEVER happen in Lloyd. Or even Tallahassee for that matter.
    Just...wow. I am so glad you accepted that invitation. What a completely Hollywood story. HUSTLR and all.
    I should go see the movie. I don't know nearly enough about the suffragette movement and take my woman-rights for granted. Oh well, except for that part where they're trying to cut funding for PP and make abortions illegal again.

  3. Wow. And if you haven't seen ' They Named Me Malala', you must. Incredible young feminist!!

    XX Beth

  4. The very idea of Larry Flynt anywhere near the suffragette movement...and even in the same building! Your use of his proximity in this piece was a joy. I wonder which of those youngsters involved in the marketing is responsible for that awful tee-shirt that's gotten all the press. Talk about lack of a sense of history. That little glimpse into your own history at the St. Regis was most welcome. Thank you for all. A scrumptious post, and I can't wait to see the film.

  5. it sounds so, so, civilized! I heard a review of the movie on NPR today and the fella was not terribly impressed. He thought they could have done so much more with such a great subject. His review won't stop me from seeing it.

    You do live in a surreal part of the country: those Hollywood types are a breed unto their own. I imagine getting back home was quite a relief. But the experience does make for a good write up, and thank you for that.

  6. It's out here and that will be my wife and mine movie date next week on Halloween. I loved the fact that the original script was binned and altered to include the working class woman's perspective. Apparently the first draft had an upper class woman "waking up" one day and hooking up with a maid who happened to be an advocate of women's rights. So, you had a lesbian fling, class and voting all in one. But Abi shelved that script and turned the whole thing on its head.

    Will let you know what I think of it next time I visit.

    Greetings from London.

  7. Aside from not being able to vote, black women in South Africa remained legal minors until 1994. They couldn't buy property or open a bank account unless their father or husband signed for them.

    That still shocks me. Can't wait to see Suffragette.



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