It is sometimes said that certain people come into your life at a certain time for a reason. In the early years of the 20th century, feminist activist Alice Paul and President Woodrow Wilson came into each other’s political lives and ended up changing the course of American history.
The new book, How Long Must We Wait? : Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote, by Tina Cassidy, brings together the lives and political stories of two giants of American history: 1st wave feminist Alice Paul and Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States. President Wilson was polite to the women who came to him, asking for his assistance in securing the right to vote, but did not follow-up with lawmakers. Feeling frustrated with the lack of action, Alice went via the route of picketing and hunger strikes in prison until President Wilson had no choice but to act.
I really loved this book. While it may seem a little to Academic, it is actually an invigorating read. Both Paul and President Wilson are brought to life with vivid imagery and an almost cinematic retelling of their personal and political histories. The book makes these historical figures seem alive, vibrant and relevant a century after their political battle.
I recommend it.
Across the nation tomorrow, multiple towns and cities will be holding local elections.
I urge my fellow citizens, if there is a local election in your area, regardless of where your land on the political spectrum, to get out and vote.
It is our right, it is our privilege, it is our responsibility. There countries around the world where the simple act of voting is tantamount to revolution.
My fellow New York City residents, if they are still up in the air about whom they are voting for, can find more information here.
I also want to remind any woman who is ambivalent about voting, what it took to get us the right to vote.
Alice Paul was tortured in prison, just for protesting that women could not vote. If we don’t vote tomorrow, we dishonor her memory and the memories of the women of that generation who suffered so we could vote.
It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
As a movement, feminism contains thousands of single steps. When the steps are put together, they represents the accomplishments, both large and small that women can proudly call their own.
In the 2016 book, Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color, by Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring, tells the story of a group of feminists. Some are famous (Eleanor Roosevelt, Alice Paul and Marie Curie) and some are not so famous. Based on a series of color prints, each woman is briefly profiled with a brief biography, and a quote and a color print.
I loved this book. Instead of being a boring, collegiate style history book, it is a joy to read. Every woman profiled is brought to life. It is a reminder that all women, regardless of the labels of color, religion, age, class, sexuality or family origins are dealing with the same struggles. It is also a reminder that it sometimes takes one woman and one voice to change the world.
I absolutely recommend it.
Somewhere in heaven, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Betty Friedan are all cheering.
This week, Hillary Clinton accepted the democratic nominee for the 2016 Presidential race.
The glass ceiling is starting to crack in ways it has never cracked before.
The Seneca Falls Convention took place on July 19th and 20th in 1848.
The 19th amendment was ratified on August 18th, 1920.
It took American women 72 years from the earliest days of the Suffragette movement to gain the right to vote. This year celebrates the 96th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. We’ve come a very long way, but there will be many more battles ahead. I have been waiting to hear the words “Madam President” for a long time. I will be voting for Hillary come November.
I’m with her.
Last week, women in America both cheered and were reminded once more of how far we need to go.
The ultimate glass ceiling was broken when Hillary Clinton clinched the nomination for the Democratic nomination. Somewhere in heaven Alice Paul, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony and Betty Friedan are cheering.
While I was not persuaded to vote for Bernie Sanders, I admired his gutsy approach to government if he won the election. The reason many Americans (myself included) feel frustrated with the government and the general voting process is that it feels more like a secret smoky backroom deal rather than a government of the people, by the people, for the people. He wanted the average Joe or Jane on the street to feel like they truly had a say in how their country was being run. For that, I thank Bernie Sanders and I hope Hillary will take that with her as she battles towards November.
Then the news of the Stanford rape broke and it felt like one step forward, two steps back. The fact that Brock Turner received a much lighter sentence that maximum 14 years in prison is a cold slap in the face that while we have female presidential nominee, women are still thought to be mindless sex objects.
The fight continues.
When it come to historical figures, especially those that are no longer of this earth, we tend to idolize them, glossing over what them ordinary human beings.
Jean H. Baker’s 2008 book, Sisters: The Lives Of American Suffragists, follows the lives of five extraordinary women who have become icons of the early feminist movement in the United States.
Focusing on Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard and Alice Paul, the author starts in the 1840’s with Lucy Stone and ends with Alice Paul in the 1920’s. Living in an era when women were second class citizens and without rights, these women dared to step forward and challenge the status quo.
What I liked about this book is that the author wrote about her subjects as complete human beings, warts and all. What I did not like about this book is that the writing is a little on the dry side.
Do I recommend it? Let me put it this way. If the subjects of history and/or feminism are of interest to you, then I would say yes. The book is excellent if it is required for academic purposes. But otherwise, I would not recommend it.
Today is the 131st birthday of Alice Paul. The leader of the National Women’s Party, Alice fought tirelessly to get American women the right to vote.
She passed away in 1977, not knowing that future generations of women will forever owe a huge debt of gratitude to her.
Happy Birthday, Ms. Paul. Wherever you are you, thank you. The world that I know and the opportunities that I have would not have existed without you.
Today I voted. It was only a local election, but I still voted.
I voted for the women who protested in front of the White House for the right to vote.
I voted for Alice Paul, who went on a hunger strike in Occoquan Workhouse and was forced to eat by prison doctors.
I voted for the women who went to work during World War II while their husbands and brothers fought overseas.
I voted for the women who went to work in the 1950’s and 1960’s and were discriminated against by their male bosses and colleagues.
I voted for my mother’s generation, who would not back down and quietly return to the traditional roles their mothers and grandmothers had been forced into.
I voted for my generation who have the advantages and experiences that previous generations of women only dreamed of.
I voted for the generation of young girls who will one day vote.
I vote because it is my right and responsibility as a citizen.
I vote because of the previous generations who fought for this basic right.
I vote because there are still millions of women around the world who are shackled to archaic rules about what it is to be female and what she can or cannot accomplish.
I voted today.
The fight for equality by American women is not a new fight. It is a battle that has been waged for generations. While the glass ceiling has slowly been cracking, it has yet to come down completely.
Feminism Unfinished: A Short Surprising History Of American Women’s movement by Dorothy Sue Cobble, Linda Gordon & Astrid Henry was published earlier this year. This anthology of essays documents the women’s movement from the 1920’s to present day. They start with first generation feminists like Alice Paul and Pauline Newman and ends with the current generation of American female leadership that includes Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of Lean In.
What I liked about this book was that it didn’t start at the 1960’s,which is often considered to be the start of the feminist movement. The feminist movement in America is much older. I also liked the fact that authors shed the spotlight on women of color, who are sometimes neglected because the focus is often on white middle class women.
I recommend this book.
August 18th, 1920 is watershed date in the lives of American women. It is the day that the 19th Amendment was ratified, guaranteeing every American woman the right to vote.
In 2004, HBO premiered Iron Jawed Angels , the true story of the women who fought for the right to vote.
Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and Lucy Burns (Frances O’Connor) are the leaders of the Suffragette movement, fighting for a national law providing women the right to vote. Standing in their way is not only the male led government, but the older generation, Carrie Chapman Catt (Angelica Huston) who are advocating a state by state pathway to the right to vote instead of a national law.
This movie should be seen by every American woman. These women are brought to life as fully developed characters, flaws and all. I am reminded of this movie when I vote for my political leaders, from the smallest local government to the presidential vote. Without these brave women, we would still be second class citizens, without rights and chattel to the men in our lives.
“Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity” In their own time, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns were thought to be insane. But without their insanity, we would be living in a very different country.