The Women Who Got Women The Right To Vote!

Posted on Thursday 17 July 2008

This is the story of our Grandmothers, and Great-grandmothers, as they lived only 90 years ago.

It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women who made it so were innocent and defenseless. 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 Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. 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. 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. 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 Carol, 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, too, 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.

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 – remember to vote. History is being made.



Anyaa McAndrew @ 7:53 pm
Filed under: Of Interest to Women

Stages of Healing the Wounded Feminine: Dissolving the Scars of Patriarchal Abuse “Part I: The Wound” by Anyaa McAndrew

Posted on Tuesday 8 July 2008

The Sacred Feminine, the Empowered Feminine, the Divine Feminine. These words evoke images of a large luminous being, goddess-like, regal, and leading the way to new world, to heaven on earth. Her radiance would cause all war to cease, and the feminine principles of compassion, cooperation and community would prevail. All beings would live in harmony with nature.

Thanks to first and second-wave feminism, through the efforts of the earlier suffrage movement, and the feminism of 30-40 years ago and now third-wave feminism of today, the feminine has been somewhat restored. Women now enjoy some measure of equality and respect. At the time I write this, Senator Hillary Clinton is one of the candidates for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the U.S; a remarkable feat when we consider that the fate of women in the 50’s was to choose housewife, mother, nurse, teacher, factory worker, sex worker, or mistress as their life purpose.

Women in general are full of themselves these days; full of power, authority, self-confidence, self-esteem and self-love. I love working with women to facilitate this fullness! We’ve come a long way, baby! Many of our gains have come from our courage to move forward and take risks to be more than our mothers, to find a bigger Self among the remains of previous generations.

My personal experience is that women are infinitely creative, yet practical when it comes to getting what they need to take care of themselves and their children. When given the insight and the opportunity, they can be even more creative and determined when it comes to climbing out of bad relationships, stuck patterns and old paradigms. Perhaps this is because we have been shut up and shut down for the last two to five thousand years of patriarchy, under threat of rape, and worse. We understand what it means to be patient, to bide our time, and then venture forth when the coast is clear. The coast has been clearer than anybody can remember, but there are still some big shifts to make. (Continue reading…)

Anyaa McAndrew @ 8:50 pm
Filed under: Of Interest to Women