Today I'm thankful for the suffragettes--those brave, tenacious and determined women who fought--and eventually (ahem, 50 years LATER) won the right for all of us women to vote. The Nineteenth Amendment is 90 years old today. Sadly, an Equal Rights Amendment has never been passed, so legitimately all of us with vaginas (a plural term recognized as a spelling error...penises, however, has a plural recognized by spell check--FOUL! I cry--Sexist spell check bull crap!) do not have full coverage of Constitutional rights. But we have the right to VOTE and that has led to great change. And it can lead to more changes if we wield it.
Why am I a feminist? I get asked this a lot. Around here, "Feminism" is another "F word." But I love:
* owning property in my name
* voting for people who make laws affecting ME
* jury trials by my peers (although I've never needed one)
* having a checkbook
* having the right to choose whether to pursue a career...or not
* the right to raise my children
* the right to leave an abusive spouse (never needed to do this either)
* the right to divorce (if I needed to, which again, I haven't)
* the right to property after a divorce
* not being the legal property of my closest living male relative
* the right to run for public office
* the right to start my own business
* earning my own money
* choosing what I will wear
* having a say in whether I get medical care
* access to medications tested on women
Fun fact: anyone who enjoys equal treatment under the law is a feminist, too.
The privileges I enjoy are not granted to me by the Constitution (because the ERA never got ratified), but by a slow and steady erosion of both laws and cultural norms that have come through the right to vote. Today I raise my coffee mug and take off my straw South Dakota standard tourist-issue cowgirl hat to SALUTE:
Jane Addams * Susan B. Anthony * Annie Arniel * Harriet Eaton Stanton Blatch * Amelia Bloomer * Lucy Burns * Carrie Chapman Catt * Frederick Douglass * Abigail Scott Duniway * Max Eastman * Helga Estby * Clara S. Foltz * Matilda Joslyn Gage * Florence Jaffray Harriman * Julia Ward Howe * Ada James * Harriet May Mills * Abigail Crawford Milton * Lucretia Mott * Alice Paul * Margaret Sanger * Julia Sears * Dr. Anna Howard Shaw * Elizabeth Cady Stanton * Doris Stevens * Lucy Stone * Lydia Taft * M. Carey Thomas * Ruby Cora Thompson * Sojurner Truth * Harriet Tubman * Ida B. Wells * Victoria Woodhull
This list isn't complete--thousands of women marched and protested, starved and fought for a Constitutional amendment giving me and all other American women the right to vote. Ken Burns created the best film documentary of this great historical batttle in Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Go watch it if you haven't.
Spill it, reader. Are you glad for the Nineteenth Amendment and the suffragettes who won it for us?
Don't forget, every comment this week is an entry to win a copy of Laurie Hertzel's FABULOUS memoir News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist.