You’ll forgive me if I don’t feel like celebrating. I had wanted to write about a local hero of the Women’s Suffrage movement, but my heart just isn’t in it. Because what have we got to show after this century of voting? Many excellent women now hold public office, yes, but the self-confessed sexual predator in the White House denigrates and attacks female governors, mayors, civil servants, and public health officials daily, even encouraging his heavily-armed goons to threaten the life of a female governor (for her efforts to curb a pandemic). And one of our two major political parties says nothing.
This Republican party has also been annihilating women’s reproductive rights in state after state. And, unlike the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Israel, Lithuania, France, New Zealand, Latvia, Liberia, Australia, the Phillipines, Iceland, and Pakistan, we have yet to elect a woman to the highest office. (There are more — complete list here.)
I am trying to be inspired by Rhode Island’s most noted Suffragist, Elizabeth Buffum Chace, — who clearly exercised great patience — but with both candidates for the presidency in 2020 being two old white men. Frankly, I am running out of time as well as patience.
One hundred years ago the Nineteenth Amendment was finally ratified guaranteeing women the right to vote. Ironically, the text ends like other amendments with the boilerplate language: “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” Enforce? Not in 2020.
For more on what the Suffragists went through, read “Night of Terror: The Suffragists who were beaten and tortured for seeking the vote.” And what do you know of the hunger strikes and force-feeding endured by your great-grandmothers?
To learn more about these amazing women and their decades-long battle, watch the recent installment of the PBS series American Experience, “The Vote” with the men and boys in your life. (Make it a home-school learning module and shove a rubber tube up their noses and down their throats — raw eggs are no longer recommended as they may carry salmonella.)
Yes, I’m mad.