Women weren’t “given” the right to vote.
Our great-grandmothers and grandmothers clawed it for us from the Patriarchy, one beating after another, one force feeding after another, one terrified night in a jail cell after another. One wife threatening to tell what she knew, to never sleep with him again, to leave. One mother guilt tripping her son, one sister calling in the childhood favor, one mistress swearing she’d go to the papers, one farmwife writing off the debt she couldn’t afford to write off and crediting it all to her great-great-granddaughters.
Here, at Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is thin, if you stop for just a moment, you can hear the women of your own blood calling out to you. The women of your own line will talk to you:
I was too afraid to join them, but in my heart, I knew we deserved the vote. Go vote for me.
My husband beat me and said he’d take my children away from me if I marched with the Suffragettes. But I slipped out of the house and marched. Go vote for me.
No one wanted me; I was too ugly to marry. I worked in the factory and made half what a man made. When they told me they’d fire me if I marched, I laughed, I marched, and I went to work as a domestic. Go vote for me.
I was standing on the side of one march, my heart flying, but too afraid to join in. They arrested me anyway, threw me in jail, hung me from my wrists, and beat me. When they finally let me out, I went home and cried for days. My mother-in-law never spoke to me again. Go vote for me.
I mixed the herbs that my great-grandmother used to mix in the old country. He wasn’t going anywhere to veto anything, that day. Go vote for me.
It was back before the Depression. I had married into money. He didn’t care what I did. I spent his money freely on the cause and went to tea with Senators and Cabinet Secretaries. I wielded my privilege as well as I could. Go vote for me.
All over America, women are putting on their grandmother’s pearls, their mother’s wedding rings, their great-aunt’s shawl. They’re making Vote for Women sashes. They’re pulling on t-shirts that say, “I come from a line of Nasty Women.” They’re tucking pictures, and keepsakes, and mementoes into their pockets and they’re going to the polls to vote. Their female line comes with them, slips unnoticed into the voting booth, hovers over them as they do the unthinkable thing: vote for a woman for president.
You come, too.