Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I received this in an email from a friend yesterday. It sure makes
me sit up and realize how much I take for granted these days and
how grateful we should all be to the women that sacrificed so 
much for our rights. It is especially relevant this year as we witness
another strong woman making history. She has already proven herself
 as the governor of Alaska with a high approval rating by the people she 
governs and many successes in office, yet she and her family are being 
drug through the mud and personally torn apart by the media and 
political pundits because she is a woman that has dared to step up
and run for the second highest office in the land.

This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; 
they lived only 90 years ago. 

Remember, it was not until 1920 
that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were 
jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying 
signs asking for the vote. 

(Lucy Burns)
By the end of the night in jail, they were barely alive. 
Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing 
went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted 
of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.' They beat Lucy Burns, chained 
her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for
 the night, bleeding and gasping for air. 

(Dora Lewis) 
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her 
head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, 
Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. 
Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, 
beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the 
women. Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, 
when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia 
ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned 
there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White 
House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water 
came from an  open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--
was infested with worms. 

(Alice Paul) 
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger 
strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and 
poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this 
for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press. 

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because- 
-why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? 
Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new 
movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle 
these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling 
booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the 
actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. 
Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. 
Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, 
saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk 
about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought 
kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 
'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, 
my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just 
younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The 
right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, 
social studies and government teachers would include the movie in 
their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere 
else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, 
bu t we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think 
a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade 
a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be 
permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor 
refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, & brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken
for insanity.' 

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so 
hard for us by these very courageous women. Whether you vote 
democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.


Debbie in CA : ) said...

I remember my first opportunity to vote. I've never lost that thrill, though I'll admit some years I wasn't enthusiastic about my candidate options (and I've often cried at the results). This year my daughter votes for the first time. The celebrations continue! : ) I have also facilitated the voter registration of a 65+ woman voter who has been a citizen for over 35 years and never found a reason to register until this election. She's voting and she's excited! This election is riveting and historical for me in so many realms!

Karen Deborah said...

Amen. it is hard to remeber this when the candidates and politicians all seem so similar, and so hard to believe. Then out of no where like Zorro, comes fresh wind; Sarah Palin. I love her what energy! How can the democratic party really be bashing her for being a working mother, hasn't that been one of their ideal all along?
I did not know about the beatings, freedom is NEVER free. Thank you for posting this.

Becky said...

Thank you for this post. I didn't start voting until I was married and now I am ashamed of that. I am excited about this years race. I can't wait to cast my vote!

Caution Flag said...

I didn't know this, and am actually shocked by it. Wow.

kathy in Colorado said...

This is so sad and heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing this - I will pass your blog on. I like Palin - I just get a kick out of her - she reminds me of every day women.

Anonymous said...

You know, the US was quite late in providing women's suffrage. In New Zealand women got the vote in 1895 and (white) Australian women in 1902. To our shame, Aboriginal people couldn't vote until the late 1960s -- a national disgrace.


mary said...

What a powerful post! I am more excited about this election than I have been in a looooong time. Is your weather changing? We have had beautiful fall-like weather for a week. This is my very favorite time of year! How is your quilt coming? Did you find the fabrics you needed? Don't forget that I will be happy to shop for you and mail you some great Texas fabric!