Thursday, August 26, 2010

hats off to the suffragettes

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
* driving
* 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.

15 comments:

  1. This is a great list.

    Yes, I'm a feminist and damn proud of it.

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  2. Heck, yeah. I wrote my college senior thesis on feminist rhetoric. I'm raising my daughters to be feminists and proud of it.

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  3. Heck, yeah. I wrote my college senior thesis on feminist rhetoric. I'm raising my daughters to be feminists and proud of it.

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  4. Yup...me too.

    Add to the list: Abigail Adams. Her "remember the ladies" letterto hubby John, along with her actions as wife when John is sent to Congress/Overseas, is considered by historians to be the first Feminist tract written in the push for American suffgrage. She's my personal favorite suffragette. If you have time sometime, I have a great bio of hers that you should read. Excellent stuff!

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  5. Amen!
    Have you heard of Mercy Otis Warren? She is a famous (on Cape Cod) Colonial era writer and playwright. Feminist ahead of her time.

    My other favorite is Edith Wharton. Besides being a writer,in 1902 she was the architect of her home and gardens in Lenox MA.

    Smart women ROCK.

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  6. It's amazing these "rights" we take for granted... even here in Canada.
    I did not know that the ERA was never ratified. You'd think in "this day and age" it would already be a done deal.
    I guess it all makes me a feminist... although I'm dang glad I don't work right now and am a simple little ol' stay at home mom. ;)

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  7. I am divorced, childless, and living alone. Not that long ago, I would have been shunned and pitied. Instead, in part because of the heart and determination of our suffragette sisters, I am a contributing member of society and actually admired for my independence by some. Yay, 19th Amendment!

    There is a very good movie about our brave sisters: Iron-Jawed Angels, starring Hilary Swank as Alice Paul. It is heartwrenching, shocking, and lovely...and also hard to find. Watch it if you get the chance!

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  8. Dad and I used to do battle on any number of subjects. I remember one time after a lively discussion he was telling a neighbor, "I guess my daughter is one of them women's libbers" and I shot back "You say that like it's a bad thing!" Mostly we liked to poke at each other but I believe he was proud of me anyway, even if he usually didn't agree with my points of view.

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  9. Only 90 years since the vote came our way. Hard to believe it took our country so long! I admire Abigail Adams, too; she spoke up for herself before it was considered politically correct.
    I remember writing a paper on Ann Hampton, another Revolutionary era woman, and getting a D because there was so little information available on her. That in itself was a lesson; where were the resources on women in our history?

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  10. Most definitely! Those ladies rocked!

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  11. Add my shout-out to yours for Margaret Sanger..! And I'll stand up for Georgia Okeeffe - a capital-F Feminist if there ever was one.

    And personally I am very glad to still be able to legally and safely terminate my pregnancy if I should need to. Thanks for everyone who worked and is still working for that.

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  12. It's hard to imagine it has only been 90 years that women have been allowed to vote. I miss my right to vote...

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  13. I linked this as part of my Friday Five over at Cheerific Notations. Have a great weekend!

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  14. My list wouldn't include Sanger, but I love Abigail Adams as other women have suggested and YES - there are many women and men on the list and not who deserve our sincere gratitude and admiration. That the torch will be carried...AMEN!

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Spill it, reader.