Alice Paul image via Wikipedia
"So, refresh your 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?"The quote above comes from an email I received in celebration of the anniversary last week of women's right to vote. I've reproduced the email below. It tells the story of those women who fought long and hard and paid very high prices for that right. It sets the stage for our TV show which premiere's on Wednesday evening. It is a story we shouldn't forget.
But first, let me tell you about our premiere.
WHY VOTE? See your AAUW colleagues, Doris Goldberg, Ruth Wahtera, Kathy Pauker, Irvin Rosenthal, Bette Nitze, Louise Flood, and surprise guests discuss the voting issues.
Co-hosts and producers Garnette Arledge, President of Kingston AAUW, and Janine Mower, Chairperson for Voter Education have been working all summer to address these questions. The result: an eleven-part public access tv show, (Woodstock Channel 23, or www.woodstocktv.org or ustream.com) from 8:30-9 pm, from Wednesday, Sept. 3 through Nov. 11.
We looked at all reasonable and true excuses, still excuses however. So we suggest watch our show tomorrow night, or anytime on the web then pre-plan your carpooling dates, take the children with you to the polls to model the voting privilege, remember polls are open before and after work. The one reason given above that cannot remain standing, the Power of One Vote, national AAUW's campaign. Each vote, even for states where the media calls it red or blue, or belonging to the other candidate, even then if the majority voters, that's women, would vote, we could have AAUW women in political office, we could have a government we choose taking our rightful response-ability seriously. Why Vote: because we can!
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. (photo: Lucy Burns)
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 Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.
(photo 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.
(photo 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 your 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?
All reasonable and true excuses, still excuses however. So pre-plan your carpooling dates, take the children with you to model the voting privilege, polls are open before and after work. The one reason given above that cannot be remain standing, the Power of One Vote. Each vote, even for states where the media calls it red or blue, or belonging to the other candidate, even then if the majority voters, that's women would vote, we could have AAUW women in political office, we could have a government we choose taking our rightful response-ability seriously.
Why Vote: because we can!
A recent HBO movie 'Iron Jawed Angels' is a graphic depiction of the battle these women mentioned above waged so that each 'I' could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have her say. Frankly as a 'former' dis-enheartened voter, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.
HBO released the movie on video and DVD. I wish all history and 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.
It is jarring to watch the politicians 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.'