Woman's Suffrage and Demand For The Right To Vote

May 27, 2007
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We need a Suffrage thread so I started this one with the description of an infamous Event in Woman's Suffrage History.

My Mom received this E-mail urging Woman to vote and since the event it describes happened in the Gilded Age I thought to post it here.

Quoted from E-Mail
"Why Women Should Vote"

This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago. (Mothers too for some of you...)

'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, Brutal Treatment of Women Suffragists at Occoquan Workhouse

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

Under orders from W. H. Whittaker, superintendent of the Occoquan Workhouse, as many as forty guards with clubs went on a rampage, brutalizing thirty-three jailed suffragists. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head, and left her there for the night. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed, and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate Alice Cosu, who believed Mrs. Lewis to be dead, suffered a heart attack. According to affidavits, other women were grabbed, dragged, beaten, choked, slammed, pinched, twisted, and kicked.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air..

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press. 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'
That's the research I was able to gather about this incident plus the E-mail that is circulating even now. HBO has made a movie about these true and infamous events. There were pictures with the E-mail of the Women in front of the White House with signs asking Wilson why he hated Women and another sign asking him to give Women the Vote plus pictures of the Women in the E-mail mentioned above. I started this Thread in tribute to the Suffragists and their battle for equality and the Right to Vote.

http://womenshistory.about.com/od/suffrage1900/a/suffrage_brutal.htm

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/collections/suffrage/nwp/brftime3.html

http://www.lkwdpl.org/WIHOHIO/paul-ali.htm
 

Jim Kalafus

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George; George; George. Why do you want to stir up trouble? Everyone KNOWS that a real woman is content with the "Three K's" (Church; Children and Kitchen...hey, in the original German it works)and that suffragettes are just a bunch of malcontents.

Check out this advert, run by a woman's group, no less:
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Jan 28, 2003
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Too right, Jim. I myself have a kitchen full of gadgets and exotic foodstuffs hoarded against the day when I might feel like cooking again. (I did cook until the children reached 16 ...). They, of course, are the light of my life - and the bane of it as well. I also politely engage with the several proselytising religions that optimistically haunt my doorstep. So I might well achieve the pinnacle of womanhood yet, though time may be running out.

Unluckily, for my personal fulfilment, I had to work all my life as well, and do jury service in a murder trial. I'm uncertain as to whether the women's group advert above is worried more about the ladies' sensibilities being unpleasantly challenged, or that they are genetically incapable of reaching a decision. We did.

Apart from being incapable of exercising civic responsibility, we women are often accused of not being as funny or creative as men. Oh, I don't know. Woman in my paper yesterday wrote to say she'd noticed a warning on her bottle of bleach which said,
"Keep away from children. Do not drink."
She remarked that if she could only achieve the former, she was quite sure she could manage the latter.

My granny marched with the suffragettes, and told me always to vote, even though it wouldn't matter a row of beans unless I was a floating voter in a marginal constituency. So I always have, just for her. She was an poorly-educated working-class Edwardian, with a talent for entrepreneurship, and very eccentric. I think she probably made her men's life hell really, but I loved her. Had she lived today, she'd have been kicking that glass ceiling to pieces much more than I ever have.
 
May 27, 2007
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Jim,

Thank you Jim for adding that article showing the opposite end of the spectrum, anti-suffrage. I'm sorry it certainly wasn't my hope to stir up controversy. The only reason I included the E-mail was because it describes an event that happened in the Gilded Age and people's reaction to it. Not only woman reacted to horror I might add. I'm certain a couple of men didn't like the fact that a bunch of Women where assaulted and beaten up in a jail. I'd never heard of the night of terror but I don't study Woman's Suffrage. Of course it is at the back of my mind when I read the E-mail that my daughter might one day ask me about Woman's Suffrage. So I decided to start this thread because ET doesn't have one and add the E-mail and the event it describes. Blame HBO for the movie they made although I'm glad because it gets Woman interested in what their Ancestors did to secure for them the right to vote.

Monica,

Thanks for the story of your Grandmother. That's why I started this thread not to stir up controversy but to add stories of woman's work for equality and the right to vote and remind Women and girls of that fact.

As for me none of my Grandmothers or Great-Grandmothers was a suffragist or marched for the vote. Although we had a lady Doctor in the family on my mother's side. I need to ask my sister about that.
 
May 27, 2007
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Monica,

I figured that but I was afraid that someone might of got upset anyways or thought I was courting controversy so I added a general sorry. I think it wasn't so long ago we had a Woman's Only thread and I didn't want folks thinking this was a tinderbox.
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Jim Kalafus

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>So I might well achieve the pinnacle of womanhood yet, though time may be running out.

Hmmmm...does this in any way reflect your day-to-day life?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6TcQ_Odcuc

because if it does, all is not lost.

>I think it wasn't so long ago we had a Woman's Only thread

Fondly remembered.
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May 27, 2007
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80s Shake'n'Vac Ad!!!, Well wonders never cease.
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>I think it wasn't so long ago we had a Woman's Only thread

Fondly remembered.
Not by me. I wanted to start this thread sooner but after the shenanigans on that thread I was too afraid.
queasy.gif
Alas if I was a woman in the Gilded Age I would be so far from the glass ceiling I'd be on the floor.
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Jan 28, 2003
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I think a thread about women's suffrage is a bit different from a Woman's Only thread, which incidentally I never read. Who, as a matter of interest, was the lucky and ungrammatical woman who had a lonely thread all of her own?

You're setting the bar a bit high there, Jim, but I will try singing something whilst vacuuming, instead of swearing. But where was her pinny? And the curlers hidden by a headscarf? We all know real women lovingly carry out their domestic duties prior to titivating and changing into a cocktail dress and hostess apron in time to serve a fond kiss, drink, and delicious meal to the hunter home from the hills. How I have failed...

The Shake'n'Vac people, Glade, have moved on to higher-tech plug-ins etc. now, of course. But the British seem obsessed with "fragrancing" their homes if the miles of aisle in supermarkets devoted to these products is anything to go by. ("Step away from the air fresheners..")

My granddad, George, was a rather taciturn bank runner (began adult life as a footman which is where he met maid, granny) who apparently left something to be desired in the income-generating department, as well as being generally silent. Granny's various attempts to supplement this deficiency included, I understand, running a corner shop, being a landlady, designing hats, and property speculation (ultimately not successful). Unfortunately, she couldn't cook, and had a friend called 'the Major' with whom she went to the races, when not out politicking. You can see why I was so fond of her.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>And the curlers hidden by a headscarf?

Ah, that takes me back. My mother sported an atypical French Twist 1966-1970s, but my hometown of Yonkers New York was a place where women prided themselves on giant hair. By day, curlers the size of soup cans held in place by Pucci-patterned scarves; then a rush to the beauty parlor for a comb-out at 4PM and hair twisted into a 3'X 4' bouffant just in time for the husband's arrival home.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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It's all Mad Men really, Jim. I watched that TV prog with fascination recently. I was the same age as character Peggy in the early 1970s, though I wasn't quite so feisty, but I do remember it very well. And I managed somehow to breach the walls to a small extent.

But I never had time or the inclination for the curlers. Too busy.
 
May 27, 2007
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Monica,

I love AMC's Mad Men. Peggy's alright and can be feisty. I don't think of Peggy as feisty as really more determined to succeed and prove that she can do just as good a job as the boys can do. Of course you might not of seen the newer episodes. Peggy starts out as Don Draper's secretary but moves on up because of her ability to Copy Editor at the advertising Firm but has a few problems along the way. I don't want to give it away in though. Her and Pete Campbell have issues. Pete's a bit of a jerk sometimes.

Giant Hair! I remember the eighties version. I don't think any of the ladies in my family really had giant hair in the 60's. No Beehives or what have you. They all had short hair or curly hair from what I can see from photo's. Big fans of Pin Curls from what I can see. Hair like Peggy or Don's Wife Betty not like Joan. Who from what I've seen is the 60's version of my sister.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Men

http://www.amctv.com/originals/madmen/
 

Jim Kalafus

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Monica: This about says it all. 1977. The TOTAL WOMAN.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X4MwbVf5OA

Women, for some reason, detested this from day 1.

At the time, I did not realise that what this jingle boiled down to was:

"I work."
"I cook."
"I have sex with you despite having to work all day and then cook."

A friend of mine laughingly referred to this commercial as she told me:

"When I got married, I told my husband 'you get two out of three. Choose wisely.' "
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Well, Jim, I can have a guess at what your friend's husband chose after careful reflection about the nature of marriage .. but it may not have been the wisest choice. He should have paid for a housekeeper.

Peggy Lee's original song was, of course, far more pithy and bitter. I never saw that commercial, but I'd have detested it too.

George, Peggy in Mad Men is feisty. Largely because she had ambition and you couldn't show feistiness openly then - but she had it. In spades. Don's poor wife is the real victim, but you are right in that we are a series behind here, so I'll just wait. I actually remember blokes like this in advertising.

Reverting to the topic thread, however, here is my other (paternal) granny.
"Why did you marry granddad, granny?"
(I was about 30 and she was about 90, and a widow of over 2 decades).
"Oh, I suppose, to get rid of him really in a way. He was 12 years older than me, balding, and unwilling to take 'No' for an answer. So I married him because he was a good man, was lodging in our house, and I was my brothers' servant at the time. Better his than theirs, and my mother wanted me to do it. I don't regret it, though."

But she was smart. The local (big city) authority wanted her to be a political candidate, but because my granddad had a stammer, and couldn't have done it himself, he vetoed her candidature. She never had a public career, but she did raise 7 children (out of 9 pregnancies) to be educated and successful people. And she stuck to her suffragette views no matter how her menfolk derided it.

My father built a chemistry lab in their coal cellar, creating appalling noxious and embarrassing smells while his parents were entertaining the vicar to tea above. My grandfather was furious, the vicar was appalled, but granny merely quelled both of them, saying,
"It's for his education, which is all that matters."
Granddad meekly gave in, and immediately built a baffle over the outlet from the cellar.

My grannies rocked.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>I never saw that commercial, but I'd have detested it too.

~Bring home the bacon
~Fry it up in a pan
~And never never let me forget I'm a man?

On top of which, get everyone fed and out the door, and STILL make it to the office on time?

Sounds like a suffragette's paradise.

Stating the obvious, what women hated about this commercial~ which ran forever~ was its rather odd view of equating liberation with just adding more work to the old, established, roles.

I fondly remember a Married With Children episode on which a variant of this commercial is heard playing offscreen, with the added tagline "...for the hopelessly delusional"

An even more fond memory?

~Brady Bunch ca 1973.
~Marcia gives stinging news interview about sexism
~Family mocks her
~She joins boy scouts, to prove she can do anything a boy can do
~Family mocks her
~She succeeds.
~BUT, the arrival by mail of the new fashion magazines makes her realise that she is a girl and wants to do girl things. SO, she skips the Boy Scout initiation in favor of 1973 haute
couture.
~Tagline to the episode:

FATHER: Well, it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind.
SON: Who said that?
FATHER: I don't know, but...
BOTH, IN UNISON:...it was probably a woman.


The Enjoli commercial worked wonderfully in that setting.
 
May 27, 2007
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Hello Monica
Peggy in Mad Men is feisty.
True I never took the social mores of the time into consideration of how Women behaved at work back then. Plus if Peggy showed she was feisty she would of ended up beating off all the men at Sterling & Cooper because they would of mistaken Peggy being feisty for something else. Those Gents don't need a lot of encouragement either when it come to sleeping with the office help. So it's better she hide that for now. She does get a little more daring later on though. Are you still in season one Monica? Do you know about the Baby yet? If not disregard this. You'll know soon enough.
 
May 27, 2007
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Mad Men Preview Season 2 Episode 8: "A Night to Remember"

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I just had to share this. Seems discussing Mad Man isn't so off topic after all.
 

Kris Muhvic

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Hello-
Couldn't help but interject here-
Feminism, in the 1910's, seemed to have had a divisive attitude. The working girls (i.e.: sweatshop/garment workers) had strikes that were quite brutal. Employers would even induce prostitutes to cross the picket lines to show the strikers they were no better. On the other end there was the emancipated aristocracy, who had money so they could do whatever they wanted. They had the freedom, but sometimes the purse spoke louder than ideals.
Being a feminist was always a double edge. There was a planned Suffragate march down 5th ave. NY soon after Titanic sank. But with all the talk of male sacrifice, heroism, etc.; many women were reluctant to participate. The radicals were always around. The desperate were in between a rock and a hardplace. Most women, I believe, lived their lives the best they could with as much dignity they could muster.
Not unlike today, eh? For both sexes for that matter!
Cheers-
K
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Feminism, in the 1910's, seemed to have had a divisive attitude. The working girls (i.e.: sweatshop/garment workers) had strikes that were quite brutal. Employers would even induce prostitutes to cross the picket lines to show the strikers they were no better.

No. Prostitutes did not CROSS the picket lines. Prostitutes were brought in to provoke fights with striking women, who could then be arrested for disturbing the peace. The idea being that in Jewish and Italian families, the disgrace of having one's daughter jailed after a street brawl with a prostitute would have induced sufficient shame to undermine individual support for the strike.

The tactic was seen for what it was, and did not work.

The garment workers' strike was interesting, in terms of feminism, because many of its most ardent and vocal supporters came from the uppermost levels of society. Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, for instance, used her Madison Avenue residence as collateral for bail.

Which raises a deeper issue of "us versus them" than gender. The garment factories, by and large, were owned by first and second generation European Jews. Who, to high society at the time, were definitely "them." Witness the heartwarming responce to Isidor Straus attempting to get his grand child into one of the 'better' schools.

Although I admire their dedication in the specific case of the garment workers' strike, I DO often wonder if they ever noted the fine point that THEIR OWN FAMILIES operated mills, factories, mines, railroad, mostly non-union, and where conditions were WORSE than at Triangle, where the strike started. (Lost, often, in these discussions is the fact that Triangle represented the top of the heap- as good as it got in 1910- which is why they had so many long-term employees) I doubt it, because, of course, those mines mills factories and railroads were owned by "us." The old "We're businesslike. Those Jews are slave drivers" mentality reared its head again.
 
May 27, 2007
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Hello Kris,

There was a planned Suffragate march down 5th ave. NY soon after Titanic sank. But with all the talk of male sacrifice, heroism, etc.; many women were reluctant to participate.
I too have heard of a back lash against Suffragists after the Titanic went down.

Although once the memory of Titanic dimmed or the story was out of the press and the Axe Murders in Villisca, Iowa was in the papers I'm sure the Suffragists were back protesting for the right to Vote. Glad you stopped by.
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The old "We're businesslike. Those Jews are slave drivers" mentality reared its head again.
Interesting double standards isn't it, Jim.