New Women is a fictionalised podcast series which interweaves the stories of disabled first-wave feminists Rosa May Billinghurst, Helen Keller and Mabel Normand. Throughout each 10-minute episode, the women narrate their lives in the early twentieth century. In Episode 4, Helen and Peter’s relationship is complicated by the views of others. Mabel attends a meeting of the women who are trying to ban her films. Rosa continues to narrate her prison experience.
Written by Louise Page, New Women introduces the elements of intersectionality that were present between feminism and disability in the early 1900s. We hear the radical, socialist-feminist-abolitionist voice of Helen Keller, rather the sanitised version we are all too often offered up. Suffragette and wheelchair user Rosa May Billinghurst talks about her adapted hand-tricycle and how she used it to ram her way through police lines. The third key character is drawn from the real-life Mabel Normand – one of Charlie Chaplin’s mentors, who protested against the censorship of women’s stories in film, and experienced mental health conditions, including drug addiction.
Adapted for podcast for Disability Arts Online’s Covid Commissions programme, New Women is produced by Clear Voice Enterprises.
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