Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Please, VOTE.

Girl Power.

The following was sent to me via email from my dear cousin, Shelli. I had to share it with you today...

This is the story of our Mothers and 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.

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.

(Miss Edith Ainge, of Jamestown , New York )
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.

(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 democratic, 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 is being made. Honor these women and VOTE.

(Humbly climbing down from soapbox now.)


Nathalie said...

THANK YOU Trish for getting on your soap box! It's amazing what we take for granted and view as "inconvenience" nowadays!!!

Krista Nash said...

Good for you! I am ashamed that I have not yet registered to vote since moving to a new county. But I will save this post and next election time, will not only be registered to vote but will post this on my blog as well as Facebook in the hopes of inspiring more women to use this right.

Debbi Tehrani said...

I will definitely be voting today! Thank you for this important post, Trish.

BabyBokChoy said...

I was going to wash my hair, but I guess I will postpone that and go stand in line after work :)

Thanks for the reminder! I now really want to see this HBO special!

Ady said...

You've brought tears to my eyes. To be frank I did not know the magnitude of what they went through so that our opinion could be heard. It consoles me a bit that I do vote but I know so many that don't. I'm forwarding this... Thanks Trish... Your the mostest.

jamie said...

there is way too much we take for granted in this free beautiful country of ours. so many of our freedoms were hard fought battles won so that we could....watch t.v.?
thanks trish, for your timely reminder. it is no light duty i take to vote, and always do it early and with clarity of thought.

pickmepam said...

awesome movie. public libraries have it. check it out.
funny, the captcha down below is "equal"!

Sandra W said...

Thank your cousin for getting this to you and thank you for getting it to us!

Candace H said...

Wow, Trish... powerful and I'm going to share with my FB friends... something I never do but this is important! Thank you. And yes, I voted today.

Lori Gentile said...

How did I not know this? Thank you for posting. I posted it on facebook.