Monday, August 1, 2016
Today I am grateful for suffragettes. I had no idea what these brave, strong women went through until I watched the movie, “Suffragettes”, with Helena Bonham Carter, Carrie Mulligan, and Meryl Streep, on HBO a few weeks ago. Wow! See this film.
Whenever you watch a movie there is a certain amount of fiction laced in with historical facts, but I really had my eyes opened with this one. So did Himself. Because he’s a good, strong man who appreciates strong women and proved it by hiring female engineers long before his contemporaries did. That’s why I married him.
Husbands back in the early 20th century were not so brave. They were threatened. Even though their wives, sister, mothers were horribly abused, underpaid and overworked, they wanted status quo, unable to accept change. Refusing to support not only equal pay for women, but the vote. Women had no public voice. No way to exert themselves at the polls and voting booths. They had to hope their husbands had a clue and might at least listen to their opinions, before ignoring them. How wrong is that? Very wrong.
I remember a long time ago, maybe 40 years ago, I attended a meeting at my old church in Wisconsin. The congregation was haggling over some issue or another, which I can’t recall so all were invited to voice opinions. At one point in the meeting I suggested that I run for an office in the church so that I could vote on the issue. I was promptly told that women can’t vote in this church. Really? I can manage the babysitting, make endless potluck dinners, set up tables, teach Sunday School, do countless hours of bull-work, but I can’t vote? I was done. I hope it’s changed by now.
In the United States, women fought for and earned the right to vote around 1920. That’s 96 years ago. That means that there are a few women out there who were probably alive and might remember when the suffragettes won. And if not them, their mothers remembered. Now we need to. We need to remember the sacrifices, the commitment, the agony they endured swimming upstream in a male dominated river.
I hate it when people are pushy and in my face about decisions I’ve made. I like my status quo. It’s mine and I’ve earned it. I also hate it when I learn something altogether new, like I did with the movie “Suffragettes” and am forced look at something I thought I understood, but in a new way. Because that means I have changed and that makes me twitchy. Change is hard. Ask the women suffragettes. Ask women in business now.
Your political beliefs are your own and none of my business unless you choose to make them so. So are mine. When I enter the voting booth in November, and pull that lever, not a soul on earth needs to know who I pulled it for. Or didn’t. Unless I tell them. The same goes for you. Yes, in this too-much-information-world voting can still be private.
I am not at all certain I could be as bold and/or brave as the suffragettes, but when I think of what they went through to give me the privilege of voting, I am forever grateful.
Register to vote now. Decide later. Change your mind a hundred times if you must. Then decide again. For you. Not your kids. Not your husband. Not your friends. For you! Then vote. Those brave women from the last century deserve that much. So do you.