Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Well done, Sister Suffragette!

Say hey, sisters! It's voting time. 

That means that you can head out to your local church or municipal building or school gymnasium and pull the lever (or touch a screen) to register your energetic support or your apathetic resignation for the new sheriff in townliterally. 

And when you do, and I know you will, realize that you've been able, as a vagina-carrying American, to exercise this right for a staggering not even 100 years. 

Yes, our country is 200 and something something years old! A country populated by religious reformers looking for the right to exercise their rights to deny rights to non-men and non-whites! What an inspirational and moving genesis of our Republic!

I, for one, am feeling, what is the word? Is it empowered? Am I enfranchised? No, I know, it's marginalized! Marginalized even still as the last of all Americans to get the vote. The last to have her turn. Way to go America! The radical revolutionaries who started an entire country based on democracy for the elite few! 

That's not to say that I don't love my country. I certainly don't want to move anywhere else, and I'll take a delayed share of the democracy over none at all. We are flawed, America, but we are worthwhile. 

But, ladies, come on. If we'd been running the show since 1776, I mean, better, am I right? Slavery would have ended sooner (oh, yes, we'd still have been slave owners, because women are not immune to squashing the civil and human rights of others), but many of our female predecessors worked hard to advance the rights of all citizens, including black women and men.  

Of course, when 
black men got the right to vote, they were less interested in helping their sisters, no matter their skin color, in obtaining the same rights. Why, no man wants to mess up his chance to participate in democracy by also supporting the voting rights of undesirables like us, gals!
It was only in the aftermath of the Civil War, when Republican politicians introduced the 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution extending citizenship and suffrage to former slave men [Editor's note: That's back in 1868 and 1870, girls. Women would wait another 50 years to vote. Math is fun!] . . . Many abolitionists initially advocated universal suffrage, for both African Americans and women. When that was made impossible by the insertion of the word male in the 14th and 15th amendments, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, with support from African Americans like Sojourner Truth, campaigned against any amendment that would deny voting rights to women. Among their opponents were former allies like Lucy Stone, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Wendell Phillips, and Frederick Douglass, who argued that it was “the Negro’s hour” and that women’s suffrage would have to wait. (Source, PBS)
Still, though major upheaval in the form of a civil war, the citizenship of former American slaves (though the ability to exercise the freedoms of citizenship was squashed until well after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s) had already rocked the country. Ladies, we unpredictable creatures of hysteria and menstrual mystery, were not allowed the vote until 1920. Let's examine how not-so-long-ago that year was. 

In 1920, the following were part of the daily lives of Americans:
  • The Red Sox and the Yankees hated each other (Babe Ruth was traded from the Sox to the Spankees that year, patooey), JUST LIKE TODAY.
  • Airmail became a thing. Basically Amazon two-day shipping, plus a lot of days, JUST LIKE TODAY.
  • People went to the movies, JUST LIKE TODAY. 
  • Professional football was a thing, officially, JUST LIKE TODAY.
  • People were driving cars for realsies, not just the wealthy folks, JUST LIKE TODAY.
  • They didn't have a ratified Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and sure, some of that is due to the fact that the ERA wouldn't be written by suffragist Alice Paul until 1923, but whatevs, JUST LIKE TODAY.
What? Wait, what the hell? That can't be true. I mean, there must be some inflammatory language in that amendment, right?! Like, "Women are the rulers of the free world! Kneel, misogynist scum!" Let's take a look at that there ERA.

The Equal Rights Amendment 
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.  
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.  
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification. 

I see, that's about as radical as "all men are created equal." So, it's no wonder the amendment has never been ratified by the federal government. IT'S JUST TOO CRAY CRAY. Treating women to equality under the law?! What next? Letting them think? Letting them have opinions? Letting them vote? (Whoops, gotcha, America, naninibooboo! No taksies-backsies!) 

I think I know why the amendment hasn't passed, yet. WHAT IF WE ARE ALL ON OUR PERIOD AT THE SAME TIME, AMERICA?

Here's something that's very different from that first national election women participated in in 1920. In 1920 the number of voters at the polls rose "from 18.5 million in 1916 to 26.8 million in 1920." Sure, those aren't all women making up the roughly 8 million voter difference, but surely many of them were. Still, that's less than one-third, closer to one-fourth of the vote coming from the ladies. In the 2012 presidential election, women made up 53% of the voters. The majority. The muscle. The largest voting bloc. The bitches in britches making political process a priority. I apologize for all the alliteration, I alliterate when I get excited. 

So, today, on Election Day, let's keep it up. We were the last to earn the right to vote, so let's make up for the lag time by being the loudest. And I will be proud to call you "sister suffragette," even if you vote for the wrong people, specifically, the people I'm not voting for.