Friday, August 29, 2008

"Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

After listening to Obama's speach last night, I wondered what would be an approriate blog for today. The answer came to me in email. The following arrived in my in-box this morning. I couldn't say it better, so here it is -

This message is inspired by an HBO film that's on this month-- Iron Jawed Angels, with Hilary Swank playing Alice Paul.

This is the story of our Grandmothers and our Great-grandmothers, as they lived only 90 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women in the U.S. were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.Thus unfolded the "Night of Terror" on November 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.

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 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.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.

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?

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.

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. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men : "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

Whether you vote Democratic, Republican or Independent party -- remember to vote.

History is being made. You are invited to be a part of it. Register to vote. Educate yourself on the issues. AND VOTE. No excuses.


Helen said...

I agree -- Vote. For whomever your heart and your head tell you.

I think some young people think women have always had the right to vote. We have not.


Caitlyn Hunter said...

Oh, Charlotte, I've been meaning to get over here to your blog ever since you posted about it on the LLD author's loop. With everything going on in my life right now, I never seemed to find the time. After reading this, I'm glad I finally made it!

An inspiring post!