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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Woman's Vote

Tonight, my husband and daughters took to the polls. True, my daughters are age 2 and 0, but they went nonetheless. Little Dhis even got an "I Voted" sticker.

When I got to my booth, I pulled out my little cheat-sheet of who to vote for based on my harried research. I think I passed the test. We then went out for voting ice cream and celebrated the American way by getting fat.

Did you vote? Will you vote next time? I admit I was tempted to not vote because the husband was out of town this past month, leaving me with little energy and no time to myself to study the candidates. I will share with you one of the main reasons I cast my vote tonight despite all the other reasons against my doing so.

I received an email three weeks ago which I will post below just as it was sent to me (originally written by Connie Schultz of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland). I have verified its contents as true and correct, so please take the time to let this information sink in to your being.

My only question is: How come this was not taught in any of my U.S. History classes?

-Adhis

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The info and pictures below are worth reading and knowing about. Grandmothers paid a very dear price to achieve this right.

This is the story of our Mothers and Grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago.

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Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

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The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

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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.

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(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.

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(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?

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(Mrs. Pauline Adams in the prison garb she wore while serving a sixty-day sentence.)

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.

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(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.

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(Berthe Arnold, CSU graduate)

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.

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(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.

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(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.

5 comments:

The Silvia Family said...

'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

Love this quote! Great post, now I want to see the movie.

Kristen said...

None of the pictures showed up for me. GREAT story though. I'll check back on the pics later.

A curtain? Am I supposed to have a curtain when I vote? Maybe I don't need one since I use a PEN and the font on my PAPER is tiny.

No, I'm not complaining. I love voting the old fashioned way.

Adhis said...

Kristen, the photos have been banned from Idaho internet providers due to the fashion in the photos considered "too racy".

Kristen said...

Another reason to love Idaho. =o)

Jackie said...

My goodness i feel guilty. I have never heard this before. I have chosen not to vote since 2000, because I truly have not felt right about any of the choices we've had.

I may reconsider that policy.