Friday, October 17, 2008

A Message for all women

This was emailed to me. I googled it and was unable to find the original source. I hope the author doesn't mind me sharing it.


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 teac h 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. 
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 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.


Anonymous said...

What a timely reminder of our right and obligation to take seriously the gift we have to let our voice be heard--a gift given to us by the sacrifice and courage of countless women who went before us. I appreciate them and you for raising my awareness of my sacred duty to choose for myself. Many thanks, Wendy Nielsen

My Time to Blossom said...

I'm definitely inspired!