There's a rally at our county courthouse today in support of Women's Equality Day, which celebrates the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. It's sponsored by Women for Kerry*Edwards and I think Ginny Schrader will be involved as well. I only found out about it yesterday, but the issue of women getting the vote is a huge one for me. School doesn't tell kids exactly what literal tortures the suffragettes endured so that I can vote. I remember the protestors being portrayed largely as spunky rich women who wore sashes and marched around with signs. I'm sure arrests were mentioned as well. But this was not:
The women were innocent and defenseless. 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 helpless women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."
They beat Lucy Burn, 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 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.
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.
Women endured beatings, being placed in stress positions, forced feedings, unlawful imprisonment and, I'm sure, untold tortures (sound familiar?) so that I can vote. Less famous suffragettes endured public and personal humiliation because they supported an unpopular cause, which was my right to have a say in how this country should be run. They are heroes, no less so than any service person from any war, or any politician immortalized in marble.
eVoting threatens my rights. Apathy, which empowers vote-busting scams, like those in Florida and all over the country, erodes my rights. The corporate media, with their issue-less news format encourages cynicism that breeds that apathy. That's why I vote without fail. That's why I blog. That's why I go to rallies. That's why I'll be in NYC on Saturday for the March for Women's Lives even though some very reasonable people are saying that protesters should stay home and not give the RNC the ammunition they need to hammer the Dems.
But if Lucy Burn, Alice Cosu, Doris Lewis and thousands of unknown women stayed home because it was the easy thing to do and protesting, after all, only gave their oppressors ammunition to shame them, then I'd also be staying home on Election Day, barred from the polls. And who knows? Maybe you would be too.
cross posted at NoseyOnline.com.