The Nineteenth Amendment: Take it Seriously

Article. [XIX]

[Proposed 1919; Ratified 1920]

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Out of the blue and quite suddenly and unexpectedly, we now have Sarah Palin - a woman - running for vice president on the Republican ticket.

Now, as a Jew, I have had the double personal pride in knowing that Israel (way ahead of the United States) elected a Jewish woman as Prime Minister, Golda Meir, in 1969.Though I disagree with her political and social ideology and her decisions and erroneous assessments which plunged Israel into the Yom Kippur war in 1973, I still take pride in the fact that she was an educated, intelligent woman who held the highest political office in her country and was absolutely committed to her beloved Land of Israel and her People .

As an American, I think it's about time we arrived, but especially in this country, we need to take this very seriously indeed. Ever since I was first eligible, I registered to vote, and have voted in national, state and local elections ever since (well ok, I might have skipped one or two locals...) I have taken the right to vote seriously, and so should you.

Why do I say 'especially in this country?' Because we are a democracy; and just today, I received some information on the history of women's suffrage (hat tip to my good friend Dr. L.) which reminded me how very important this right is in a democracy, and how we should not take it for granted.

Yes, I learned about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the women's suffrage movement just like everyone else; but I don't remember learning much about the violent treatment of some of the suffragists who were arrested for non-violent picketing of the White House (and president Woodrow Wilson).

What I didn't remember (I don't remember this being taught in my school, but it was a long, long time ago, so...) was that some were treated in a horrifying manner which we would call torture, today.
Take the case of Lucy Burns, Alice Paul and Dora Lewis, who were incarcerated at the Occoquan Workhouse, a medium security prison. This is how they were treated, for being political prisoners, and protesting for women's rights:
Burns was arrested while picketing the White House and went to jail several times. In jail, Burns joined Alice Paul and many other women in hunger strikes, to demonstrate their commitment to their cause, claiming that they were political prisoners. Burns was force-fed and possibly tortured, as was Paul. Clift recounts that the force feeding of Lucy Burns required "five people to hold her down, and when she refused to open her mouth, they shoved the feeding tube up her nostril." [1] Of the well-known suffragists of the era, Burns spent the most time in jail.
Dora Lewis (pictured here), was also badly mistreated:
Lewis was among the outspoken hunger-striking suffragist prisoners and she received some of the most brutal treatment at the hands of wardens at the District jail and the Occoquan Workhouse. During the infamous “Night of Terror” of November 15, 1917, at Occoquan, Lewis was hurled bodily into her cell. She was knocked unconscious and feared dead when she collided headfirst against her iron bed frame. Lewis and Lucy Burns were initial leaders of the hunger strike in Occoquan; both grew so weak that they were held down by attendants and force-fed through a tube.
Can you imagine this being done today? We consider ourselves civilized, yet as late as 1917, this horrible treatment was being done to women who merely wanted the right to be represented as citizens of the United States. We are considered civilized, yet with regard to accepting women in high political office, we are still backward, Condoleeza Rice and Nancy Pelosi not withstanding.

For the first time we in the U.S. are fortunate enough to have a candidate who is as qualified to run for vice president on the Republican ticket as the candidate for president is on the Democratic ticket - if not more so. And she happens to be a woman.

Do not take this lightly: everyone, especially women, should get out this November, and VOTE!


Rafi G said…
I agree this is an important step, but I do not think it is right to vote for her just because she is a woman. There are important things involved int hese elctions. Vote for her because you like her style, vote because you agree with her policy and agenda, vote for her for a multitude of reasons, if you agree with them.
But to vote for her just because she is a woman? I think that is wrong.
Lady-Light said…
rafi g: Did I say that? I don't recall saying that...I do recall saying that she is as qualified for veep as the other guy on the other side is for Pres. It's an added bonus that she is a woman, and davka because of what women went through in the 1800s and in 1917-1920 to get this amendment ratified, we need to get out there and VOTE!
(Holy Moly-- I know I am going to bed late, putting this post up--but it's up 2 seconds and I get a comment already! Shockers. I know, I know: in Israel it's 10:25 a.m. But I'm pooped! שיהיה לך יום מצוין!
DYS said…

If your point is that someone who was going to vote for McCain and is now hesitating because of a woman's presence on the ticket should discard that offensive skepticism and vote the way he orinially way, I totally agree.

But if someone deeply opposes her policies, her pro-choice stance, her anti-environmental record, her opposition to stem-cell research, her opposition to gun control, then they should not be tilted in her direction simply because she's a woman.

Or perhaps you mean that the presence of a woman on a national ticket is a reminder of how far women have come and that it should serve to inspire them to make sure to exercise that hard-won right and vote, for whichever candidate they support. If that's your message, then hear, hear!
Virginia Harris said…
Read this for your daughters!

Senator Clinton and Governor Palin are proof that women can and do diverge on important issues.

Even on the question of whether women should vote!

Most people are totally in the dark about HOW the suffragettes won votes for women, and what life was REALLY like for women before they did.

Suffragettes were opposed by many women who were what was known as 'anti.'

The most influential 'anti' lived in the White House. First Lady Edith Wilson was a wealthy Washington widow who married President Wilson in 1915.

Her role in Wilson's decision to jail and torture Alice Paul and hundreds of other suffragettes will never be fully known, but she was outraged that these women picketed her husband's White House.

I'd like to share a women's history learning opportunity...

"The Privilege of Voting" is a new free e-mail series that follows eight great women from 1912 - 1920 to reveal ALL that happened to set the stage for women to win the vote.

It's a real-life soap opera! And it's ALL true!

Powerful suffragettes Alice Paul and Emmeline Pankhurst are featured, along with TWO gorgeous presidential mistresses, First Lady Edith Wilson, Edith Wharton, Isadora Duncan and Alice Roosevelt.

There are tons of heartache on the rocky road to the ballot box, but in the end, women WIN!

Thanks to the suffragettes, women have voices and choices!

Exciting, sequential episodes are great to read on coffeebreaks, or anytime.

Subscribe free at
Lady-Light said…
dys: I will try to answer each point paragraph by paragraph (thanks for making paragraphs--makes it easier!)

1) Agreed: a person who was for the McCain ticket should not change his/her tune because of a female suddenly coming on. Vote because of the issues and qualifications of the candidates.

2a) Again, vote for the issues; as an Orthodox Jew, I am pro-life, but also pro-choice, legislative-wise; I believe that making abortion illegal is a dangerous move that will bring back the murderous abortions which hurt women, before Roe v Wade was passed. And it would mean that, say, an Orthodox Jewish woman, after consulting Rabbanim & halacha, could not legally have an abortion, even if there was a halachic reason to. Therefore, I think Roe v Wade should stay on the books.
In this sense, I do not agree with Palin's stand, if what she wants to do is repeal Roe v Wade.

b)I don't believe that Palin is anti-environment; what I believe she is for, is responsible drilling and building the Alaskan oil and gas pipeline in the North Slope area for energy independence from foreign oil. I agree with that end: it is imperative that we explore and develop our own resources to gain independence from the oil-producing states which support terrorist organizations. In addition, Palin is also for expanding alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind.

c) Human embryonic research is a very tough moral question; I am for the benefits of this research in combating human diseases and increasing longevity, but it should be done in a way that does not compromise morality, ethics & the sanctity of life. I need to delve deeper into the halachic view of this technology, before I decide.

d) I agree with her on gun control: I am absolutely for the right of citizens to bear arms, just legally and responsibly. As someone said (can't remember who), we just need to keep the AK47s out of the hands of criminals and evildoers, same as now. And Palin is strong on law enforcement.
I don't have a problem with her hunting; it's mainly for food (though she does have a grizzly bear hide draped over her office sofa; her father shot it).

In general, even though we differ on some of the issues, I think she will be stronger and tougher against the terrorist threat that we have to our way of life. That is a key factor in my supporting her. I don't think the Democrats come close, and that's coming from a registered Democrat.
virginia harris: Of course there was also female opposition to the suffragists: I know about the "anti" movement. There are always those who are afraid to change the 'status quo.' Obviously, I (and you) believe we are much the better for the suffragists.
I'll take a look at your site. Thank you for stopping by.
Daled Amos said…
For the first time we in the U.S. are fortunate enough to have a candidate who is as qualified to run for vice president on the Republican ticket as the candidate for president is on the Democratic ticket - if not more so. And she happens to be a woman.

And the proof of that is that Obama is personally attacking her--a job normally reserved for the Vice Presidential running-mate.
Lady-Light said…
daled amot,er...amos: Yup. (I'm a woman of few words.)
Seriously, I think that Obama feels threatened by her; and rightly so.
DYS said…
Well naturally Obama feels threatened by her - looks what's happened to the polls since she joined the ticket. She's got that "wow" factor that Obama used to have before everyone got more used to him. Recognizing a political reality and recognizing that she has a gut appeal means fighting against her in the realm of public opinion, that's normal. It doesn't mean he feels threatened by her skills and her ability to govern.
Lady-Light said…
dys: True; but as far as I'm concerned, she has the same ability as he to govern.

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