The e-mail contained stark photos and details about women at the forefront of the suffragette movement; specifically, about how they were treated at a workhouse in Virginia on November 15, 1917, now known as the 'Night of Terror.' Today, we women stroll into voting booths as nonchalantly as if we were sauntering up the cereal aisle at the grocery store; it's far too easy to forget that a lot of women spent a lot of years--seventy of them, to be exact--to win that opportunity for us. (Wyoming proved itself more progressive, fair, and intelligent than the other states; it granted women the right to vote in 1869. Pause here for a round of applause for the great state of Wyoming!) I'm not here to argue the idiocy of why we had to fight to have that right; I just want to remind my fellow females that we did--and failing to show up at the polls any time we have an opportunity to exercise that right is like slapping those women in the face all over again. I don't care who you vote for--you can write in "Minnie Mouse" for president if you're not happy with the other choices--but don't you DARE fail to vote on November 4th because you're too busy, or too undecided, or too sick, or too anything. That privilege is precious in any election, but we're making history this year, one way or another, and you owe it to your suffragette sisters to be a part of it.
Here's a tidbit for you that I never knew till today: there are suffragettes and suffragists! The former were more militant (read: not afraid to break laws, windows, or anything else that got in their way!); the latter practiced only non-violent methods of persuasion, such as protest marches and handing out pamphlets for the cause. "Suffrage," by the way, means "the right to vote." And here, all these years, I thought we called them "suffragettes" because of all the abuse and resistance they suffered through! Isn't language a wondrous thing?
My other wake-up call this week was getting a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. I can't tell you how humiliated I am to have to admit that. The only thing more hypocritical would be if I got caught driving an SUV, because next to harping on those, the other rant my children hear most from me is "Wear your seat belt!" I wouldn't even let them go for their driving test until I saw that putting on a seat belt was standard, routine procedure when they got in a car. People, I have always, always worn my seat belt when driving. But in recent weeks, I confess that I have gotten lax on quick, short runs, like the mile from my house to my church, or the half mile from my house to the post office. I acknowledge that I should put it on, then think, "Oh, pooh, it's only a couple of blocks."
Yesterday, I was running late, distracted, rummaging in my purse for lip gloss to soothe my chapped lips. I got in my car and took off, aware that I had not fastened my seat belt but reasoning, "I'll put it on at the red light," which was just a couple of blocks away. But as I approached that light and was reaching for said seat belt, blue lights flashed in my rearview mirror. "I noticed you weren't wearing your seat belt, ma'am," the somber young officer said when he approached my open window. His eyes widened as I readily admitted my guilt, professed my acute embarrassment, and thanked him for doing his job. He even apologized as he handed over the ticket, saying "I can't give you a warning, ma'am; I have to give you a ticket because Greenville has a zero tolerance policy." I assured him my contrition was not an effort to get off lightly and thanked him again for a reminder that might very well save my life.
You see, in a scary and ironic coincidence, I just found out my cousin ran off the road and flipped her car three times a couple of weeks ago--as she was trying to put on the seatbelt she suddenly realized she wasn't wearing. She was injured, but she's alive--and vehemently admonishing the rest of us to buckle up before we start driving.
No matter how dedicated or zealous we are (or think we are), we all need to be reminded sometimes of the things that matter. And few things matter more than your life and your democracy. So consider yourself reminded--and don't take either one for granted!
- Info about McCain (this is not preference, it's alphabetization: M comes before O, folks)
- National Highway Traffic Safety Association - interesting statistics,advice on child safety and teen drivers, and sobering facts about cell phones, drowsy driving, and motorcycles
- Info about Obama
Anyone out there old enough to have witnessed firsthand some of that suffragette activity or remember stories your mother or grandmother told? I'd love to hear your comments!