One of many feminist myths which fly in the face of historical evidence is that the suffragettes accelerated women’s emancipation in the UK. A number of authors – including Steve Moxon in The Woman Racket (2008) – have outlined how the suffragettes delayed women’s full emancipation.
Another myth relates to an icon of feminism for the past 100 years, Emily Davison, who died after walking into the path of the King’s Horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby. Many years later Herbert Jones, the jockey, who’d been concussed after the horse’s fall and traumatised by the event, committed suicide. I’ve never heard a feminist express any concerns over his early death.
Emily Davison is always presented by feminists as a martyr to their cause. So what does the evidence tell us? The Guardian recently published an interesting piece on the matter, and it’s perfectly clear Emily Davison hadn’t plan to commit suicide. Foolishly, stupidly, recklessly, she had been attempting to attach a scarf to the racehorse’s bridle.
Just one sentence from the article tells us all we need to know:
The fact that she was carrying a return train ticket from Epsom and had holiday plans with her sister in the near future have also caused some historians to claim that she had no intention of killing herself.
A tragic event – for both Emily Davison and Herbert Jones – but clearly not an attempt at suicide, nor heroic.