Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Herstory: Why All Eligible American Women Should Vote!

This was sent to me by long-time friend Ann:

Powerful images of what happened to women in our country fewer than a 100 years ago........
Woodrow Wilson (D) was a man who treated women who were fighting for the right to vote with disdain. This is a story that many women today don't even know. Our daughters and granddaughters don't know this story. We need to remind them.
This is the story of our Mothers and Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers who 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?

Pauline Adams, in the prison garb she wore while serving a sixty-day sentence

In 2004 HBO released a move, "Iron Jawed Angels" which is now available on Netflix. 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.
Miss Edith Ainge, of Jamestown , New York
Berthe Arnold, CSU graduate
I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. 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.
Conferring over ratification [of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution] at [National Woman's Party] headquarters, Jackson Pl [ace] [ Washington , D.C. ]. L-R Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer, Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel, Mabel Vernon (standing, right))
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.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. 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 democrat, republican or independent party - remember to vote.
Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk , Conn. Serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying banner, 'Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.'
History Herstory is being made. 

See Wikipedia Women's suffrage in the United States for some interesting herstory. 

Ladies, it wasn't that long ago I remember my father "instructing" my mother how she would cast her vote.  My first recollection of seeing this take place was in 1960 - an historical election -- when John F. Kennedy was elected.  I was 9 yeas old then.

Now I'm 61, my mother is 85.  While I cannot say what Mom actually did once she was inside the voting booth and confronted with a ballot during the years prior to her marriage (if she voted at all - I've no idea, actually) and during her marriage to my dad, I do remember what I consider her "liberating" moment.  It was the 1984 Presidential election.  Dad had already voted.  Mom had not.  I don't know what happened, and Mom never said.  They had always gone together before, so I think they quarreled over Dad's "instructions" on how she was supposed to vote this time.  I was living at home at the time, being stone cold broke after finishing up some post-secondary education.  I arrived home from work.  Mom and Dad were not speaking. Tense.  Very tense.  It was about 7 p.m. and the polls closed at 8.

Mom had a drivers license earned a few years prior, when she finally passed her behind the wheel test, but driving made her very nervous. Very nervous.  Mom asked me if I had voted.  I said no.  She said, well, I think we should.  I said well, let's walk up to the school and go vote.  She said instead "let's drive."  I nearly fainted!  She took the keys to my brother Dennis' car (he wasn't home but his jazzy car was there) and off we went!  Alexander Mitchell School was perhaps a mile away from our house, we could have walked it easily, but it was sheer adventure instead, with Mom behind the wheel and me simultaneously calming her down and reciting the rules of the road to remind her to put on her blinker, how to ease into a turn, how to check her mirrors, etc. etc.  Lessons from me - who never drove a car a foot in my life!  We stuck to side streets and managed to find a parking spot where Mom didn't have to parallel park. LOL!  Oh, the look on her face as we walked from the car across the school playground to go in and vote.  PRICELESS. 

There was a long line of people waiting to vote. We joined it.  We didn't get home until around 9 p.m.  True tale - as we pulled up in front of the house, I saw dad peeking out of the upstairs front picture window, watching for us to come home.  Ha!  After we voted, I had suggested to Mom that we go down to Casey's Corner Bar and have a shot, but she just laughed. 

As per usual in our stoic family, nothing was said -- at least, as between Mom and Dad, not in front of me :)  The episode was not discussed.  Funny how this memory came up into my mind tonight, after reading this email that Ann sent to me.  After visiting Mom in the hospital earlier this evening.  I had totally forgotten it!  Oh, I'm so glad that memory resurfaced!  Wow.  I wonder if Mom would remember this now?  1984.  What exquisite irony, heh?  OHMYGODDESS, I wonder if she voted for Ronnie Ray-Gun? 

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