Several years ago, Joe and I went to a movie along with our friend Tessa, Made In Dagenham. We had little idea that the movie would have such an impact on us. It's fast, it's funny and it's powerful - it's also a movie that inspires anyone who believes in that injustice can be fought, that every voice is important and that struggle against oppression will eventual prevail. Tessa, a life long feminist, was held rapt by the story. She cried, and cried and cried. Afterwards we went for tea and stories about the early days of the feminist movement poured out of her. She spoke about her treatment as a woman, how her future was 'set' at birth - how she fought against living the life that others expected her to live. It was one of those 'great' conversations you have occasionally in your life.
The movie effected Joe and I, most particularly in one scene. Rita, who was spearheading the fight for equal pay for women and her husband, who was tiring of his role in supporting her, his role as a husband and father. He wanted her to understand exactly how lucky she was to have him in her life, here is that conversation, (I do apologize, I don't know why the text looks like it does and I simply can't get it to do what I want.):
Eddie O'Grady: Christ, I like a drink, but I ain't out havin' a beer every night or screwin' other women, or... 'Ere, I've never once had me hand up at you. Ever. Or the kids.
Rita O'Grady: Christ.
Eddie O'Grady: What? Why are you looking like that?
Rita O'Grady: Right. You're a saint now, is that what you're tellin' me, Eddie? You're a bleedin' saint? 'Cause you give us an even break?
Eddie O'Grady:What are you saying?
Rita O'Grady: That is as it should be. Jesus, Eddie! What do you think this strike's all been about, eh? Oh yeah. Actually you're right. You don't go on the drink, do ya? You don't gamble, you join in with the kids, you don't knock us about. Oh, lucky me. For Christ's sake, Eddie, that's as it should be! You try and understand that. Rights, not privileges. It's that easy. It really bloody is.
Of all that happened in the film, it is this scene I remember. It brought me to tears in the theatre and it brings me to tears just remembering it. Rita says something so important when she says, 'That is as it should be.' I remember when an older fellow with a disability, in Scotland, warned me, as a disabled newbie, not to become grateful for what should be. He told me that the temptation was for society to praise itself for giving me what is, by rights, mine as a citizen. AND that society would expect me to be grateful for getting what should be an ordinary expectation. 'Don't give in to the temptation of 'gratitude'. It was strong advice, tough advice, good advice.
And when I saw that scene, I understood, deeply, for the first time what he had been saying.
Since then when something happens, when the situation calls for it, either Joe or I will say, 'That's as it should be, Eddie.' Now, I know that's not exactly the right quote here, but it doesn't matter. 'Play it again, Sam,' was never said either. So, when a waiter says, with pomposity, as happened recently 'We've moved the tables a bit further apart so that you can get through to your table.' I know he expects gratitude but really, 'That's as it should be, Eddie.' People should simply be able to get to their table - shouldn't they. They set the tables apart wide enough for people to walk through but no one would ever say to a walking group, 'We set the tables far enough apart for you to be able to walk comfortably through!' No, they wouldn't ... why ... say it with me, 'That's as it should be, Eddie.'