Meryl Streep Goes to Suffragette City

Mary Winsor in 1917, Winsor was sentenced to 60 days at Occoquan Workhouse for picketing. (Library of Congress)Meryl Streep’s new bio-pic, Suffragette, chronicles the adventuresome lives of the British women’s rights advocate Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters. Tired of waiting for equality, the Pankhurts’ Women’s Social and Political Union favored direct action over lobbying and legislating. Suffragettes (not suffragists) picketed, staged protests, chained themselves to Parliament, and often landed in prison.

The Pankhursts and their militant strategy had an influence on American activist Alice Paul. On October 20, 1917, Alice Paul was arrested for picketing at the White House for the right to vote. Paul led the picket line with a banner reading "The time has come to conquer or submit for there is but one choice - we have made it." She was sentenced to six months in prison. Paul considered herself a political prisoner. She went on a hunger strike and was subject to forced feeding at Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia along with dozens of colleagues, including Mary Winsor, pictured at right.