Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

This is Why I Vote

The women were innocent and defenseless. 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 Burn, 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 cellmate, Alice Cosu, thoughtLewis 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.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because-- why, exactly? Too busy? Carpool duties? Got to get to work?


Blogger amelia said...

thanks for posting this caroline. too often we take our right to vote for granted. a measly 40% (or less!) of orange county residents voted yesterday. that's shameful.

i almost can't write about what it means to me to be able to vote. it leaves me a little teary eyed. god bless those women who risked everything they could to secure the privilege i now enjoy.

11/08/2006 4:30 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

i'm glad you appreciated it. I should have put up there somewhere that I got this off an email list that I am on, but I didn't want to sully it's impact by this extraneous information. Did you ever watch Iron Jawed Angels? I will never take voting for granted again.

11/08/2006 10:52 PM  
Blogger journeygal said...

I know women worked hard to gain the right to vote, but I had no idea there was so much suffering involved with eventually gaining that privilege.

I just added Iron Jawed Angels to my netflix list - thanks for the suggestion.

11/09/2006 11:56 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Iron Jawed Angels is FANTASTIC. Particularly the second half where it really shows the brutality they endured.

Something I love to think about is that Alice Paul, the leader of the suffragist movement, was a Quaker. Awesome.

11/09/2006 4:53 PM  
Blogger alisonwonderland said...

wonderful post! well done, caroline!

i too loved Iron Jawed Angels. anyone who hasn't seen it ought to add it to his/her 'must see' list.

11/12/2006 9:49 PM  

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