Song: Sister Suffragette
Artist/Group: Glynis Johns
This is probably my favourite song from the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins. I love it. I love Mrs. Banks, I love the tune, I love the lyrics. This is the song I sing in the shower when I’m in a good mood.
We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats
And dauntless crusaders for women’s votes
This song gets my feminist blood pumping. The fact that it’s an ironic pastiche of a feminist protest song doesn’t make any difference. Set in 1909, British women are still fighting for the right to vote. Darling Mrs. Banks with her fighting words and fists in the air.
Though we adore men individually
We agree that as a group they’re rather stupid
Mrs. Banks is always out at rallies with armfuls of “VOTES FOR WOMEN” sashes, leaving her children with their nanny all day. She talks about visiting her fellow suffragettes in prison, throwing eggs at politicians and she sings her suffragette songs. But as soon as Mr. Banks gets home she is the archetypal doting housewife. One second she’s like “I’d love to stay but I must get to the rally and rejoin the fight for women’s rights” and then her husbands says “Winifred, I wish you’d stay” and she’s all “Oh yes, dear. Of course, dear.”
No more the meek and mild subservients we!
We’re fighting for our rights, militantly –
Never you fear!
When her husband’s away she’s such a radical with her fists in the air, marching the maid and the cook around the house and showing her knickers.
I used to watch this film when I was younger and although I enjoyed the song and the marching around and fists in the air, I don’t think I really understood much of the lyrics and none of the political context. The chorus was the only part I almost had down.
So, cast off the shackles of yesterday!
Leap 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!”
If you’re ever in a good mood and want to do something fun just for the heck of it – punch your fist in the air and yell “Votes for Women!” This is equally hilarious if you’re completely alone or in the presence of unsuspecting strangers.
“Votes for Women!”