For regular readers of this blog, you are aware that I generally write about “fluff and stuff”. My cousin recently sent me a copy of an article that explains why women should take the time to be registered and vote. It touched me greatly. What is most amazing is that this all occured less than 90 years ago.
Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO’s new movie “Iron Jawed Angels“. It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder. All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient. My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women’s history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was, with herself. “One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,” she said. “What would those women think of the way I use — or don’t use — my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.” The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her “all over again.” HBO will run the movie periodically before releasing it on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum.We are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order. It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. The doctor admonished the men: “Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.”Please 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. -Connie Schultz, The Plain Dealer, 1801 Superior Ave.,Cleveland, OH 44114, August 2004