Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today is the 90th Anniversary of Women Gaining the Right to Vote

It is really discouraging to do feminist work sometimes. It seems like there are a thousand people working against equality for every person working towards it. When I talk to my peers, it becomes obvious that a lot of people have accepted sexism as a fact of life. But looking back on important milestones in feminist history helps. It helps to know that despite the fact that a lot of bigoted policies are still out there, the feminist movement has made huge advances in the last 100 years. A woman nearly won the democratic nomination for president, we now head two-thirds of American families, and we have a female Speaker of the House.

Speaking of which, Nancy Pelosi wrote an article today celebrating this anniversary while urging women to vote. I did a lot of voter registration work this summer and I can attest that not nearly enough women (particularly young women) vote in off-year elections. So celebrate this anniversary by voting and reading the below Susan B. Anthony quotes which I included out of hero worship.

"It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union."

"The fact is, women are in chains, and their servitude is all the more debasing because they do not realize it."

"[T]here never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers."

"I can't say that the college-bred woman is the most contented woman. The broader her mind the more she understands the unequal conditions between men and women, the more she shafes under a government that tolerates it."


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure, but is it supposed to say "chafes," instead of "shafes" near the end?

Renee said...

This entire article is absurd and ignored the history of women of colour as well as differently abled women and voting.

Amelia said...

Renee, do you mean this post or the article linked to? Just for clarification?

Renee said...

You wrote about the celebration of women's right to vote and encouraged women to celebrate though not all women won the vote in 1920. Every year I see this erasure in the feminist community and a disabled WOC it is become old and tired to be so continually erased.

Amelia said...

I absolutely understand where you are coming from, Renee, and as a blogger and activist, I respect your input greatly.

I just wanted to clarify.

But in fact, this post was written by one of my contributors, Victoria, and I'll encourage her to address this issue as an addition to this post.

Amelia said...

I say in addition because I still think it is important, as Victoria attmpted to do, to draw attention to small victories, even if they are sorely incomplete victories.

Victoria said...

Anonymous- my guess is that is how they spelled it way back when, I just cut and pasted it from the link of Susan B. quotes.

Renee- I am sorry for not clarifying who exactly one the right to vote 90 years ago. It is important to remember that the feminist movement started (and to a certain extent remains) a previledged one.

That being said, that does not mean it is not something worth celebrating. It was an imperfect victory, but it was a victory nonetheless.

Thank you for reminding us that only certain women won the right to vote 90 years ago and that it took other women much longer to receive this basic right.

Renee said...


That being said, that does not mean it is not something worth celebrating. It was an imperfect victory, but it was a victory nonetheless.

Thank you for reminding us that only certain women won the right to vote 90 years ago and that it took other women much longer to receive this basic right.

I think you didn't get the point of what I am saying. Calling it women's equality day is insulting because the only equality being referenced is that of able bodied White women. It was not just that a few were excluded, it was that that the majority of the female population were silenced and therefore celebrating this day encourages divisions between women. Year after year I see feminists celebrating this date, with little to no acknowledgment of what it really means, until WOC or disabled women speak up. My question is, how long are we going to keep having this conversation. The continual erasure is no small matter.

Amelia said...

Renee, I appreciate you stopping by this comment section because clearly I have been privileged enough to not have to really think about this day in the way you are positing.

Your point is clear to me (especially about calling it Equality Day - wow), and at least on my part, I want to work toward making this something that people understand when they consider the anniversary on this day.

I consider this a learning experience. I know it has to be tiresome to call people out on this, but I appreciate your effort.

Tiberius said...

I'm curious, when was the real equality day? You could have a special post for that too.

Tiberius said...

Never mind, I just looked it up myself. It appears that although all women were technically allowed to vote through the 19th amendment, in practice poll taxes were used to keep many if not most female minorities from exercising their right. Poll taxes were made unconstitutional on January 23rd, 1964 through the 24th amendment:

...and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Signed into law on August 6th) took care of all other exclusionary tools.

So while that doesn't only apply to women (poll taxes and such were used on male minorities too), January 23rd and August 4th might deserve posts when they come around.

Victoria said...


I totally understand your frustration. I understand that I made a mistake in not qualifying my excitement over today's anniversary by saying how priveledged the victory was.

However, I also want to be careful that we do not besmirch the victories of past feminists. Yes, only some women won the right to vote 90 years ago. However, it was still an amazing victory that ANY women won the right to vote. It was imperfect, and also racist and ableist. I would never argue that it was great for all or even most women, but I think we should celebrate ANY step toward equality (while, of course, acknowledging how far we still have to go).

Also, though my post obviously had its flaws, I want to defend myself a little by saying that I least didn't call it "Equality Day." ;) I totally agree that it is a misleading and inaccurate portrayal of the anniversary.

Thanks for quite rightly noting what women did not win the right to vote 90 years ago and how inaccurate the day's name is.