Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Iron-Jawed Angels In Lovely Hats and Dresses


I am certain that there are those of you out there who are convinced that I have been turned into a shrieking harpy by this election season--



Now, where was I? Oh, politics. Mon bien-aimé lectrices (you gentlemen are included, too), please do take a moment to read this piece, which was sent to me this morning by a dear friend. It concerns Women And the Vote.



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

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.

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.

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. 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.'

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.

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum, 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 a little shock therapy is in order.

Please, 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.

History is being made.


Well! That was certainly a strong brew, wasn't it? I confess that I did not read it in its entirety, but I did admire the pretty dresses many of the women were wearing. Mon dieu, that makes me sound like an intelligent Sarah Palin. Pardonnez moi!


Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog


Carol Gwenn said...

Brava, Fashionista! Anyone with the right to vote needs to get out there on election day and exercise it!

Fashion is a blissful pursuit, but none of us can indulge in such without freedom of choice & expression. The only way to retain these precious things is to care; to care is to VOTE!

As Boss Tweed used to say, "Vote early and often!"

Hoardmeister said...

Thank you, dahling. I must confess that I'd much rather look at Vogue than the news, but one has one's duty...occasionally.

divinefeminine said...

What a superb post! Thank you.