I saw an email last night about what life was like in 1905. No Coke, no tv, and just a handful of cars were just a few of the things that have changed in just one hundred (and three) years. Less than one hundred years ago there was another difference in the United States. Women were not allowed to vote. Last night Jim and I watched the movie, Iron Jawed Angels. It is an HBO portrayal of the suffering that a group of young women endured to give me a voice in the government which I am under. I urge you, women readers especially, to find a copy of Iron Jawed Angels and watch it. I found mine at the library. I am willing to bet that if this small MN town can find me a copy, your local library can find you a copy as well. Click over to your local library's homepage and search for this movie. Reserve it sitting at your computer (yes, even you over there in your jammies) and watch it.
Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and hundreds of other women silently protested outside the White House all day every day asking President Wilson to bring women the vote. They stood through Washington DC rain, snow and bitter winds, but they stood. When the United States entered WWI and the country rallied around President Wilson these women still stood, asking him to bring the democracy to women that he was supporting in Germany. While on the picket lines the mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers and granddaughters were beaten, spat upon, jeered and violently thrown into prison. Their charge for standing peacefully in front of the White House gates? Blocking traffic.
As a result of her outrage against their unjust treatment, Alice Paul was thrown into solitary confinement and when she refused to eat was transferred to the mental ward in the prison. There she endured abuse, neglect and a feeding tube shoved into her stomach. And we're talking 1919 prison medicine here, not 2008 gentle flex tubing and anesthesia.
On November 3 of this year we are moving out of our house. We don't know where we're going as of now. We could be in our home, or we could be in a temporary housing situation. Either way, you can bet that on November 4 I will be exercising my right to vote. I will not be too busy, too tired, or too ignorant of the candidates to vote. I will not say that I have to stay home with the kids, or that I have to work. (US law provides employees with up to two hours on election day to go vote.) I will figure out where to go and what documentation I need to bring with me. I am an American woman for whom hundreds of women less than one hundred years ago fought to give full democracy to.
On November 4, 2008 you will find me at the polls. Where will you be?