Thursday, September 11, 2008

make some history, women!

Since we're remembering our past this week,
let me encourage you women to remember something that goes farther back than 9/11.

A good friend sent me this information,
written by another woman, a lot of which I was not aware of.

Sometimes I'm afraid our leaders would have us forget the past.

We must not.
We need to decide for ourselves WHO would be the best candidate for president (and senator and congressman and on and on...) and as educated voters, make a difference.

If YOU haven't decided on who should be that next __________, then start here: a non-partisan site that gives you the facts
on the contenders for the upcoming election.


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.

And by the end of the night, 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.'
(Lucy Burns)
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, but 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, and 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 by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

HISTORY is being made.

Will you take for granted what these women have done for YOU?


Becky said...

(gulp) I had no idea that these women suffered so much. Wow! Guess my excuses not to get to the polls will be no more.

Schenewarks said...

I'm proud I have a poll worker in the family who reminds us all we need to vote. Obviously she remembers their sacrifice and understands we can't complain about poll decisions if we weren't there to make our vote count. Thanks. I think this is very timely. Amy Jo

Smilin' sunshine said...

Wow! I have NEVER heard of that! Maybe it is because I went to school in Utah!! I always vote, but sometimes wonder why??

Christy said...

Thank you so much for the history lesson..see, we can be educated with blogs!
So many wonderful things in this world have only come about through dramatic hardships. We always need to remember!

ChefTom said...

I think it is important for all of us man and woman alike to make our voiced heard, otherwise you allow those that vote to decide which candidate will lead in your best interest.

Primarymary said...

My great grandmother was a suffragette but we never heard about this part of it. Thanks for sharing it.