Remember, it was not until August 26, 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote. That is only 88 years ago. How many of your grandmothers were alive then?
The pioneering women who picketed the White House were jailed just for asking for this basic democratic right. These women were not criminals, but instead political prisoners. They were beaten with clubs, chained, kicked, choked and otherwise tortured.
“The dangerous situation inside the detention facilities escalated, peaking in November in with what became known as the “Night of Terror.” Occoquan Superintendent Raymond Whittaker threatened prisoners that he would end the picketing, even if it cost some women their lives. On November 15, 1917, he instigated the use of force by guards against a newly imprisoned set of pickets, a group that included many core National Woman’s Party (NWP) national and state organizers. Women were beaten, pushed, and bodily carried and thrown into their cells when they refused to cooperate and attempted to negotiate with the superintendent. Other means of physical intimidation also were used. Dora Lewis was knocked unconscious and Lucy Burns handcuffed with her arms above her head.
The next day, 16 of the women began a hunger strike, including Lewis and Burns. They followed the example set the previous month by Alice Paul and Rose Winslow. During her protest, Paul was subjected to psychiatric evaluation, threatened with transfer to an institution for the insane, and force-fed. News of her treatment was leaked outside the facility. When Burns and Lewis grew weak from refusing food, they, too, were force-fed. Burns had a tube forced up her nose rather than through her mouth, resulting in bleeding and injury.
The assaultive nature of the force-feeding process was by all accounts a torturous
experience for the women, one that they withstood repeatedly. Verbal techniques of psychological duress also were used to weaken the women’s resolve. Isolated from one another, some prisoners were told falsely during their force-feedings that they were the only person still maintaining the hunger strike–claims that they knew not to believe.”
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?
In memory of your grandmother and great-grandmother, in honor of the women who suffered so much for our right to vote…get involved! Get registered! Vote!
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 democratic, republican or independent party – remember to vote.