Wednesday: Popular American Culture and Politics

Votes for Women!

I’m gonna get a little reminiscent on you.  Bear with me.

Remember Mary Poppins?  The movie?  Burt and Julie.  Dancing Penguins.  Insanely talented chimney sweeps.  Yes.  That one.

Remember this song:

“Cast off the shackles of yesterday!  Shoulder to shoulder into the fray!  Our daughters’ daughters will adore us and they’ll sing in grateful chorus, “Well done, Sister Suffragette!”

Mrs. Banks sang it.  It was one of my least favorites when I was a child.  I don’t know why it popped into my head the other day. (Okay, yes.  I do.  It’s because I was watching Mr. Selfredge on PBS and there was an episode with the suffragettes.  What.  I like period drama.  And costumes.)

That line: “Our daughter’s daughters will adore us.”

Alright, you sassy ladies out there.  You of the confident stride, the hard-won paycheck, the mini-skirt-or-power-suit versatility.  When was the last time you thought to yourself, “Well done, Sister Suffragette!”? 

Seriously.  I was at an exhibit about prohibition-era U.S.A. a few weeks ago, and they highlighted how the Votes for Women crew were staunch supporters of prohibition.  I looked at the photographs of frumpy women in ugly dresses sporting glowering looks and had to mentally reprimand myself for judging them.  Let’s be serious – the actual suffragettes weren’t all sporting Disney-colored, perfectly-fitted frocks.  To be honest, these crusaders looked like they could use a drink.

But cheek aside, it got me thinking – in our incredibly self-centered, me-first, don’t-have-time-to-read-a-book-because-I’m-writing-my-own-blog society, how often do we say, “Gee whiz.  I’d never have the opportunities I have today if (fill-in-the-blank) hadn’t campaigned for them.”  It’s true.  Sure, we love our “land of the free and home of the brave.”  But even after being hard-won by soldiers, it’s taken plenty of lobbying and marching and outspokenness to make it what it is, this ever-changing wonderland of liberties and liabilities.

Do you even realize that women haven’t had the right to vote in this country for more than a century?  Only since 1920.  So here’s a challenge: Go look up a suffragette.  There’s plenty to find; start with Susan B. and go from there.  They worked hard to give you the right to walk into your polling place and not be ejected.  Return the favor in some meager way by taking five minutes to acquaint yourself with one of them.  

“No more the meek and mild subservients we!  We’re fighting for our rights, militantly!  NEVER YOU FEAR!”


Twitter: @nymoves
Instagram: @nymovesmagazine

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