I’ve been thinking a lot about politics recently, for obvious reasons. You can’t turn on the TV or open a news website without being inundated with coverage of the primaries and the candidates running for president. So as I’ve always done since I became old enough to vote, I’ve been thinking about my options and boning up on the platforms of the candidates. And today I was reminded that Susan B. Anthony day is coming up on the 15th, which to further tie things together, is also Presidents Day. Needless to say, politics is in the air.
Despite the crazy way some presidential candidates act, and the circus that our political system sometimes seems to be, voting and taking part in the political system is perhaps one of the most important things we as Americans can do. It’s right up there with serving your country in the military and donating blood to the Red Cross. And then let me remind you that half the voting block in this country has only had this right for the past 96 years. As a part of that voting block, I couldn’t be more eager to vote, and to pay homage to amazing women like Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
These women went out into the world, without the legal rights we have today, or the autonomy, and stood up for what they believed in. They rallied, waved banners, wore gold political pins, all proclaiming “votes for women”. This led to ostracization from family and friends not supportive of their cause, police brutality and sometimes imprisonment. That’s a lot to ask from a culture of women who could not own their own property, who still wore corsets and couldn’t dare even show an ankle for fear of being called a loose woman.
Today when you see exhibitions of the women’s suffrage movement it is boiled down to grainy black and white images, moth-eaten gold and purple sashes proclaiming “Votes for Women!” and small, circular gold lapel pins that to our 21st century eyes look downright demur. But back in 1916 being caught in public with one of these political pins was enough to get you arrested. It’s amazing that something as a small as a pin could be that subversive. Come to think of it, it’s amazing that voting rights for women could be considered subversive.