A Message for All Women

The following was passed on to me via email from my cousin. I apologize, but I cannot give the author her proper credit. I suppose, given the message, she would rather I post this than worry about her copyright:


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.



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 fo! r the ni ght, 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.

(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.
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/suffrage/nwp/prisoners.pdf

So, refresh my mem ory. 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, 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 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.

(Woodrow Wilson was our only president to earn a PhD, but I was not aware that he did this.)

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 – please remember to vote!

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2 Responses to “A Message for All Women”

  1. elizabeth Says:

    I really want to forward this to some people, but the type is cut off on the right hand side. Is there another place to access this, or forward from? (Maybe it’s just my browser?)
    Thanks!

  2. Virginia Harris Says:

    Thanks for this great post about the suffragettes!

    Senator Clinton and Governor Palin are proof that women can and do diverge on important issues.

    Even on the question of whether women should vote!

    Most people are totally in the dark about HOW the suffragettes won votes for women, and what life was REALLY like for women before they did.

    Suffragettes were opposed by many women who were what was known as ‘anti.’

    The most influential ‘anti’ lived in the White House. First Lady Edith Wilson was a Washington widow who married President Wilson in 1915, after the death of his pro-suffrage wife.

    The First Lady’s role in Wilson’s decision to jail and torture Alice Paul and hundreds of other suffragettes will never be fully known, but she was outraged that these women picketed her husband’s White House.

    I’d like to share a women’s history learning opportunity…

    “The Privilege of Voting” is a new free e-mail series that follows eight great women from 1912 – 1920 to reveal ALL that happened to set the stage for women to win the vote.

    It’s a real-life soap opera about the suffragettes! And it’s ALL true!

    Powerful suffragettes Alice Paul and Emmeline Pankhurst are featured, along with TWO gorgeous presidential mistresses, First Lady Edith Wilson, Edith Wharton, Isadora Duncan and Alice Roosevelt.

    There are tons of heartache on the rocky road to the ballot box, but in the end, women WIN!

    Thanks to the success of the suffragettes, women have voices and choices!

    Exciting, sequential episodes are great to read on coffeebreaks, or anytime.

    Subscribe free at

    http://www.CoffeebreakReaders.com/subscribe.html


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