A Message for All Women – Why Women Should Vote

9 Sep

I received this as an email from a friend…thought I’d pass it on:





Note from Martha:  If you care to see any more about this, go to About.com and type in search “Brutal Treatment of Women Suffragist at Occoquan Workhouse”.


See http://womenshistory.about.com/od/suffrage1900/a/suffrage_brutal.htm


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)


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.



(Dora Lewis)


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.

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.’


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.



(Alice Paul)


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.


See http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/suffrage/nwp/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

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 released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history,

social studies and government teachers would include the movie in

their curriculum, 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 republican, democratic, or independent party – remember to vote.


History is being made.



NOTE: I received this with no copyright notices on the photographs. I OWN NOTHING. All rights reserved to the owner. -DA

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One Response to “A Message for All Women – Why Women Should Vote”


  1. 2010 in review « Deb Adler's Weblog - January 2, 2011

    […] A Message for All Women – Why Women Should Vote September 2008 […]

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