Thursday, October 13, 2016

The American Suffragettes

On November 8, 2016, I will carry my daughter into the voting booth with me. She'll be 14 months old. On August 18, 1920, (95 years before she was born), women in America got the vote. Before that happened, however, there were many men who tried to stop the inevitable progression toward gender equality. Below is a gallery of cowardice anti-suffrage cartoons that were drawn, printed and distributed to keep women quiet. They depict the suffragettes as either ugly old spinsters or child neglecting snobs.  These images are hostile, unfair and untrue. They are old and yet they are new.

"SUFFRAGETTES WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN KISSED." 
"ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF A SUFFRAGETTE
At 15 a little Pet.....
At 20 a little Coquette....
At 40 not married yet! .....
At 50 A Suffragette" 

"WHAT IS A SUFFRAGETTE WITHOUT A SUFFERING HOUSEHOLD?
ELECTION -DAY" 

"My wife's joined the Suffrage Movement, (I've suffered ever since!)" 

"WHAT I WOULD DO WITH THE SUFFRAGISTS" 


"IT WON'T BE LAWFUL FOR A MAN TO REMAIN SINGLE." 

"THE WILD ROSE, which requires careful handling" 


"With St. Valentine's Greetings,
To stop your tongue from wagging
There seems no mortal Law,
So we are glad, there's one thing left,
That can make you
HOLD YOUR JAW!" 

The 19th Amendment gives me, an American woman, the right to vote. I want to know who to thank for this nearly centenarian privilege so I've done a little research. Here's who I found. These are a just a few of the prominent suffragettes who picketed peacefully; spoke eloquently and passionately and were arrested, jailed and tortured for me and my rights.

But first...a palate cleanser from the foul posters above. 
"VOTES FOR WOMEN
For the work of a day,
For the taxes we pay,
For the Law, we obey,
We want something to say." 


1869: The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) was formed in New York City by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

"The best protection any woman can have... is courage."
-Elizabeth Cady Stanton 



1872: Susan B. Anthony, along with many other women demanded the right to vote. They were arrested. Only Anthony had a trial. She was 52 years old. 

"There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers."

1884: Susan B. Anthony appeared before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives to submit an amendment to the Constitution, which would give women the right to vote. 

"It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people -- women as well as men."
-Susan B. Anthony 










Inez Milholland was a labor lawyer, an American suffragette, a public speaker and a World War I correspondent. "I am prepared to sacrifice every so-called privilege I possess in order to have a few rights." She collapsed during a speech in Los Angeles and was rushed to the hospital. She died from pernicious anemia in 1916. She was just 30 years old. Inez Milholland's last public words were, "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?" 


Inez Milholland at the Woman Suffrage Parade in 1913. 


1916, Inez Milholland...the year of her death
"FORWARD OUT OF ERROR
LEAVE BEHIND THE NIGHT
FORWARD THROUGH THE DARKNESS
FORWARD INTO LIGHT" 


1913-1920: The Suffragist, a weekly newspaper, acted as a voice for the Silent Sentinels and the National Women's Party. It was started by Alice Paul and the first editor, Rheta Childe Dorr (pictured). 


1916: Alice Paul, along with Lucy Burns, started the National Women's Party after meeting in Europe and assisting Christabel Pankhurst with the British Suffrage Movement. Alice lived 92 years, spending more than half of it as a leader for the N.W.P., fighting for equal rights between the genders. She was vocal, smart, organized and brave, enduring violent arrests and imprisonments.

"It was shocking that a government of men could look with such extreme contempt on a movement that was asking nothing except such a simple little thing as the right to vote."
-Alice Paul 


1913: Alice Paul organized the Woman Suffrage Parade. Thousands of citizens from across the country gathered and walked in Washington D.C., the day before President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration. The Parade's program stated: "march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded" 


1917: One night, prison guards decided to make Lucy Burns an example. She was leading a hunger strike and they didn't like that very much. So they cuffed her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her there for an entire night. Fellow suffragettes joined her by holding the bars above their heads and suffering the whole night along with her. After a few days of refusing to eat, Lucy was force fed by five people. They held her down; shoved a feeding tube up her nose and watched as she bled and bled. Lucy was arrested many times for her protests. 

"It is unthinkable that a national government which represents women should ignore the issue of the right of all women to political freedom."
-Lucy Burns 



"There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it."
-Alice Paul


1917-1919: The Silent Sentinels (with the National Women's Party) picketed the White House six days a week starting in January 1917 until June 1919. They were peaceful and silent, but unjustly abused and arrested. 



"WE SHALL FIGHT FOR THE THINGS WHICH WE HAVE ALWAYS CARRIED NEAREST OUR HEARTS - FOR DEMOCRACY. FOR THE RIGHT OF THOSE WHO SUBMIT TO AUTHORITY TO HAVE A VOICE IN THEIR GOVERNMENT" PRESIDENT WILSON'S WAR MESSAGE, APRIL 2ND 1917..." 


In 1920, The 19th "Anthony Amendment" was passed, granting women the right to vote in America. Susan B. Anthony died in 1906, but her efforts and leadership have never been forgotten. 


On November 8, 2016, I will carry my daughter into the voting booth with me. There, I will vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, America's first female nominee (of a major political party) for President of United States. It is a vote for dignity, peace, intelligence, experience and equality. It is a vote for an America where LOVE wins over puny, red-faced fear (and all its manifestations: racism, misogyny, islamophobia, elitism, violence, fascism, ignorance, ignorance, IGNORANCE). This election feels like a fight between the past and the future. And I so hope the future wins. I want this wicked past to be written into our history books, titled Never EVER Again, America, printed prominently for our children to study so that they won't repeat this massive, horrid wrong. It will take incredible willpower not to scratch out his name until there is a hole in my paper ballot and pencil markings on the table, but I will restrain myself. I want my vote to count. For I vote for every suffragette who sat in jail. I vote for every sign they held; parade they marched; and feeding tube they choked down. I vote for every letter, newspaper, speech, pamphlet, poster and amendment they wrote. I vote for every woman who saw a piece of anti-suffrage propaganda and felt unworthy, voiceless and misunderstood. I vote for my future and the future of our country. 


I can't wait to show my baby girl what liberty looks like. 

Thank you suffragettes for your stamina.

This vote is for YOU.




"The day may be approaching when the whole world will recognize woman as the equal of man."
 -Susan B. Anthony







*most of the pictures are from the wonderful Library of Congress