Posted by: silverstar98121 | August 28, 2008

What we don’t remember about Women’s Sufferage

I hardly ever get too serious on you, but this time I’ll make an exception. My sister sent this to me in an email, without attribution. If you know who wrote it, let me know so I can credit them. She received it as a BCC, so she really doesn’t know where it came from either. But I think it’s important. I apologize for the huge image, it wouldn’t let me size it.

THIS IS MOVING. HOW QUICKLY WE FORGET….. IF …. WE EVER KNEW…… Please send to your women friends.


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

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

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed
nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking
for the vote.

Lucy Burns

Lucy Burns

(Lucy Burns)
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 Burns, 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 herDora Lewis
head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate,
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.

Click to access prisoners.pdf

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           (Dora Lewis)
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.

Alice Paul

Alice Paul

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,

Suffering for Sufferage

Suffering for Sufferage

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 and Bingo 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 little shock therapy is in order.

Picketing for the Vote

Picketing for the Vote

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.
Read more:
Women’s history at the Library of Congress
More History at Library of Congress

In other news, my new theme song is “On the Road Again.” Epona is fixed.


  1. I’m not thinking it’s just women… we’ve all lost faith in the power of ‘the vote’. just sad, that is. it used to be we’d proudly vote because we felt we made a difference. but the politicians have cheapened that vote so much, that we feel dis-empowered… sorry, feeling a bit negative about the whole process right now.

  2. Very timely, thoughtful reminder – it was even less far back that we openly segrated by race (50’s)… i made my kids sit at a counter at the Museum of American History in DC where there were “White’s Only” placquards.

    Women voting? That’s current events in the grand scheme of things in the US.

    Congrats on the restored wheels! That’s big news!

  3. That’s a great message Silverstar, and a chain mail that’s useful.

    Great news on Epona – glad to hear it! Happy scootering.

  4. People don’t know that women fought just as hard as other minorities for the right to vote and were just as savagely treated. We like to think instead that women politely wrote and held teas and eventually men saw the error of their ways.

    Not so.

    I remember watching a BBC series on the suffrage movement their and the same types of things happened.

    Like most women’s history however, it isn’t known.

  5. Gnu- I’m sort of discouraged, too. But if my foremothers worked this hard to get me the vote, damn if I’m going to just sit on it.

    Daisy Fae- Yes, how quickly we forget. I was four when the Supreme Court decided Brown vs. The Board of Education and in many ways we are still fighting that battle, too. But we have to keep up the good fight.

    Rob- Yep, it’s a good message. You’ll be happy to know that Epona, Friday and I have made our maiden voyage to the library. The batteries didn’t even run down, something I had feared.

    Annie- Two of my favorite quotes:
    Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
    Cheris Kramarae and Paul Treichler

    I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat. Rebecca West

    Perhaps that’s why we have to fight for every single thing, whether the vote or equal pay. Much less equal rights.

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