Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Suffragette City!

Girls, listen up. My friend Jean sent me this cool link to the Library of Congress American Memory Project. Specifically, to a special exhibit of images from the National Woman's Party -- an important part of the American women's suffrage movement.

These are images of the faces of women who went to prison so you and I could have the right to vote. Check it out!

It kind of gives me a little thrill that the Library of Congress does this cool stuff. It makes me proud of my profession.

It also gives me a little thrill to see the eyes and the expressions of people who have had a direct impact on my life, even though I can never meet them or thank them. I like to think if I lived back then I would have been one of them. But, to be honest, I'm not really much of an activist. I'm not proud of it, but that's the truth.

Still, I'm glad they were. Aren't you?

Update: It seems that right now there are women in our country who aren't so glad about it. Isn't it surreal?


Blogger Tania said...

The link to the "anti-feminist" quote was actually kind of interesting to me, because Will just finished a course on 20th Century US History this summer, and one of his favorite parts of the semester was the part on suffrage.

Some suffragists, no doubt, were all for liberty and equality for all, but many of them were for women's suffrage precisely because they thought "men weren't doing their jobs" — they thought women in office would be less corrupt (this was the age of Tammany Hall), that a ballot that had to appeal to women would return the focus of government to mild, middle class family values, that it would be the end of urban squalor. They also linked suffrage to the temperance movement, because they believed that the intoxication of men was a major source of the deterioration of everything civilized that they held dear.

Worse, much of the suffragist literature sounds just plain racist to our modern ears, although as always we must extend some sympathy to their plight, and know that years hence our descendants will cringe hearing some of the things we said without thinking much of it. For example, a major rhetorical point suffragists often made was along the lines of, "How is it that ignorant Negro men can vote and white women can't?" If you read the texts of the day, the struggle for sex equality and race equality seem often to be at odds.

Regardless, I am extremely grateful that our foremothers marched and sang, that they wrote and spoke, that they endured taunts and beatings and imprisonment, so that I can cast my ballot and run for office if I please. It hasn't resulted in the utopia they hoped for, but it's still a fairer system.

8:16 AM  
Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

I did not know about that party.

I appreciate the information, and will have a look at the link later on today.

Suffrage is such a fascinating topic of interest. Sometimes, I wonder if it has re-emerged in a differnt costume today.

Thanks for the information.

8:54 AM  
Blogger mireille said...

Yes, I am grateful. Easy to forget there has bee suffering involved so that we could have what we have ... veil-less, educated, employed 'free' beings that we are. Makes me want to get Mrs. Banks out again and post her. xoxo

9:10 AM  
Blogger katiedid said...

Here's another anti-feminist site (I had it hanging out in my favorites folder labeled What the fuck): Ladies Against Feminism "... promoting beautiful womanhood." Gah! I knew it! All us worldly feminists really are ugly old spinsters. Dang. Oh wait. We're, like, not.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Kate, I think time is moving backward. Know-nothing fundamentalists are in power and the Dark Ages are at hand again. Very scary indeed.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Gotta love libraries...and librarians too! :-)
What a great story.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Atreau said...

What a cool site and something that is as important today as it was back then. We owe it to generations both past an present to raise the banner in our time!

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love voting! I will kick the butt of anyone who tries to stop me!



8:25 AM  
Blogger Urban Chick said...

i loved the link to those photos - what a fantastic reminder...

11:30 AM  

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