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Statement in response to 'Suffragette' t-shirt complaints

Time Out's official response

For a recent photoshoot to document 'Suffragette', the first feature film to tell the story of the violent and historic struggle of women in the UK for equal rights including the right to vote, Time Out London invited the lead actresses from 'Suffragette' to wear t-shirts with the slogan: 'I'd rather be a rebel than a slave’. 

This is a quote from a 1913 speech given by Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the historic British suffragettes whose fight for equality is portrayed in the movie. The original quote was intended to rouse women to stand up against oppression - it is a rallying cry, and absolutely not intended to criticise those who have no choice but to submit to oppression, or to reference the Confederacy, as some people who saw the quote and photo out of context have surmised.

Pankhurst’s full quote was: 'I know that women, once convinced that they are doing what is right, that their rebellion is just, will go on, no matter what the difficulties, no matter what the dangers, so long as there is a woman alive to hold up the flag of rebellion. I would rather be a rebel than a slave.'

Time Out published the original feature online and in print in the UK a week ago. The context of the photoshoot and the feature were absolutely clear to readers who read the piece. It has been read by at least half a million people in the UK and we have received no complaints.


Lola P

The people criticising this t-shirt are making slavery a racial issue which it catagorically is not. As anyone who works in slavery prevention or rehabilitation knows slavery affects every racial group and society in the world and has never delineated along racial lines. To suggest that one specific racial group has ownership over the word slave is the grossest ignorance and shows the profoundest disrespect for those affected by slavery today.

Jeanet M

Your statement seeps of the exact same perceptions manifested in white privilege that led you as an entity to believe the movie, article, shirts and the shoot were totally normal. I invite you to step outside of your own clearly narrowed perspective to understand that the sole reason why you never thought this might infuriate people is because the only people making the decisions to publish such an insensitive piece all look the same and have historically identified with a worldview that finds all of this to be normal. 

It's almost 2016... grow with us.

Timothy G

@Jeanet M It's your perspective which seems narrow to me: narrowly American. What does slavery have to do with race? For most of the world, nothing. Throughout history, in most times, in most places, slaves have been of the same race as their masters. What does the word "rebel" have to do with the confederacy? Again, nothing. Many people have rebelled, often for good reason.

The world is not the USA, and trying to apply American paradigms to the rest of the world will often lead to nonsense.

Martha G

I'm complaining. I've reviewed the whole feature online, and it remains insensitive. You are a digital as well as paper publication. There is no such thing as "out of context"  with your digital assets. 

I don't feel that those t-shirts criticize anyone.  They're just offensive, and suggest that the feelings of women of color (and their allies) don't matter. 

By the way, I am a longtime subscriber to Time Out New York. I certainly hope this isn't representative of the brand. 

Timothy G

@Martha G In other words, you are incapable of seeing this from outside your own narrow American perspective.

Jill T

No complaints. I guess that makes it OK.