Hyena in Petticoats. The Story of Suffragette Nellie McClung.

by Willow Dawson

"Women are going to be given the vote; either by you or by someone else.  It's just a matter of time."

This graphic novel tells the life of Nellie McClung, Canadian suffragette and crusader for women's rights.  The novel follows her life story, beginning in rural Ontario and Manitoba.  She knew from an early age that there were inequalities between the sexes; her brothers got to take part in races and games at a community fair while she had to help prepare the food with the women.  When she was 16, Nellie went to teacher's college and became a school teacher.  While most of her classmates were getting married and being forced to leave the profession, Nellie was getting involved in politics and writing.  She fell in love with one Wes McClung, the son of a prohibition and women's rights activist.  He, too, was a suffragist and told Nellie that marrying him would not get in the way of her ideas, or goals.  

Nellie went on to birth three children, and write several best-selling novels.  She used her influence as an author to speak to women about the prohibition of alcohol, as she was now a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.  It was this platform which helped propel her into the world of politics.  She spoke, marched and rallied for votes for women.  She wrote petitions, talked to politicians, and unveiled the poor working conditions women had in factories.  She staged a mock parliament saying how strange it would be for men to get the vote.  It gained her many supporters and helped people to see that women asking for the vote were not unnatural or wrong.  After women in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta got the right to vote in 1916 (and the other provinces after that) Nellie went to on to be a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Alberta.  She didn't stop with the vote though; after finding out that women were not considered "persons" by the Government of Canada she, along with four friends, appealed to the Privy Court in England.  For their efforts, they became known as the Famous Five.  

I love Nellie McClung.  She's one of my favourite Canadian suffragettes.  I first learned about her in elementary school, and I immediately fell in love.  She was tough and headstrong.  She fought for what she believed in when people - men and women - thought she was crazy.  She managed to be a wife, a mother, a suffragette, a politician, and an author, in a time when this was unheard-of. She paved the way for women everywhere, and for her, and her sister suffragettes, I am eternally grateful.  This graphic novel was a new and fun way to read about Nellie's tremendous life.  As well, it could act as a nice introduction into the story behind women's rights in Canada. 

♥ Meg xoxo

No comments:

Post a Comment