Tue, May

One Hundred Years Later, Women Still Fighting for a Piece of the Franchise


BLOG SOUP - One hundred years ago Sunday, feminists did something really important.  Here's Kathy Geier on the centennial anniversary of the first big suffragist march in Washington: 

On March 3, 1913, President-elect Woodrow Wilson arrived at Union Station in Washington, DC. It was the day before his inauguration, but the teeming mobs that typically appeared to greet a new president were nowhere to be found. Instead, the streets of Washington seemed deserted. A disappointed Wilson asked, “Where are all the people?” “Over on the Avenue watching the suffrage parade,” he was told.

Upstaging a president is no easy feat. But then, few Americans had ever witnessed so electrifying a spectacle as the suffragist parade that was then marching its way up Pennsylvania Avenue — and into the history books. The parade was brilliant political pageantry, as well as a deeply subversive act.

Historian Christine Stansell has noted that in the early 20th century, for a woman to “expos[e] oneself to the public eye” was “in itself a transgression,” something akin to prostitution. And on that cold, sunny day in March, over 5,000 women came together to boldly stake a claim not only to public space, but to American democracy itself.

Read the whole thing.  

Considering that we are still dealing with equal access to the franchise, it's especially important to keep reminding ourselves how hard it's always been to persuade certain white males that anyone should have it but them.

This fits in nicely with a number of pieces written lately, like this one by Dave Roberts,   about the efficacy of protest movements. The fact is that major change usually requires a mix of many tactics both inside and outside of politics. These suffragists, led by Alice Paul, were very confrontational, very tough and very brave. And I'm fairly sure that they were absolutely necessary.

(Digby is the pseudonym of progressive political blogger Heather Parton from Santa Monica, California who founded the blog Hullabaloo … where this commentary first appeared.)


Vol 11 Issue 19

Pub: Mar 5, 2013

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