[thelist] [OT - For USA] Got any special plans for November 2nd?

Allen Schaaf techwriter at sound-by-design.com
Tue Oct 19 09:29:50 CDT 2004

While I realize this is somewhat off-topic (we are working on communication 
aren't we?), it does relate to achieving our goals over the long haul. 
Sometimes life moves on without us while we are busy making other plans. I 
believe that participation in the process, flawed though it may be, is 
still better than sitting on our hands instead of using them.

This came from a friend.  I've searched for information about the
author, but only know that it was posted to the web by a woman.

     "How Women Got To Vote"

     A short history lesson on the privilege of voting...

     The women 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

     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 Wendy, 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 will run the movie periodically before releasing
     it on video and DVD.  I wish all history, social studies and
     government teachers would include the movie in their
     I want it shown on Bunko 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 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.

More information about the thelist mailing list