Thursday, February 28, 2008

posted at sirens

i posted about feminism- it isn't a topic i know much about- but by all means add your two 'sense' over there :) also, give fran some love because it is her first post for the sirens. just click on home if you follow my above link. thanks.

from my email:

Subject: Don't forget to vote - anytime you can

This is the story of our Grandmothers, and Great-grandmothers, as they lived
only 90 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right
to go to the polls and vote.

'The women were innocent and defenseless. 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."

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her
head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They
hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and
knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, 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

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

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

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

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.

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