(I think smoke is still coming out of my ears)
Today, August 26th, is Woman’s Equality Day, which celebrates the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Yea!
Wikipedia says this about the 19th: “prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex.”
Remember that particular phrase. It’s going to be crucial.
This being the age of social media, one of the popular Facebook pages posted pictures. The following picture.
We live in an age of movements and slogans being co-opted and undermined by members of the oppressing group, and then acting like victims when the backlash hits them. “Mansplaining” and “whitesplaining ” come under this heading.
Well, Readers, we got mansplained. “Don’t forget to be grateful to the Nation, its system of governance, related Constitution and Bills that paved the way for the fight.”
Gratitude to the system that had not provided the right to women in the first place, the governance that had deployed police officers to arrest and beat women for demonstrating for this right, and force fed them in prison when they went on hunger strikes. The related Constitution and laws that refused to enumerate the right to vote regardless of sex. The one our great (or great-great) grandmothers had to FIGHT for.
You just gave it to us?
Hell fuckity no.
I’ve been seeing this sort of sidestep lately, mostly from men, and mostly from white men. It’s a way to avoid ownership of oppression and terrible deeds done to maintain a grip on power. And to still claim ownership of power.
“It was white peoples who freed the slaves.” (My personal favorite)
It was white people who enslaved them in the first place. I even had a Southerner tell me straight-faced that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery because they were going to free the slaves, it was all states’ rights. Read the various Articles of Secession: they are EXPLICIT about leaving the Union to preserve slavery. This guy also told me they were teaching slave to read. Sorry, but it was the death penalty to teach slaves to read.
“We gave you that right.”
That’s akin to Britain saying to the US, “Well, we gave you your independence.”
Not without bloodshed. Not by being asked nicely.
It is patronizing, this “we gave, we allowed.” It implies that the speaker holds all the power and it cannot be taken from him without consent. Even if there have been uprisings, protests, marches. No. The benevolent overlord shall grant unto you. Not because he’s been convinced of the right of it, but because it is his pleasure. “We let you win.”
And, yeah, we’re going with “him” and “his.”
For 50 plus years, I didn’t believe, didn’t want to believe, didn’t see discrimination against me on the basis of sex. I thought I got what came to me in the workplace on the basis of merit, even as guys who’d been working at the same place less time than I had got promoted, then promoted their buddies, leaving women on the bottom tiers of the office hierarchy (and sitting around talking about those women in sexual terms when they thought no one could hear).
There are women who whole-heartedly support the patriarchy because they have a niche of privilege within it as long as they support the men. Why? How about a collection of stories, self-serving laws, and self-serving letters written in a dead Bronze Age language that has been interpreted and re-interpreted so many times nobody knows for sure what the actual words were? Claiming it’s the will of a God unknown, but damned if He didn’t create men in his image as opposed to the more likely Man created God in his image. And will you look at that? God wants mento rule the world, and that’s gotten narrowed down to white men. What? The Biblical teaching was that people of color had no souls. It was the rationalization for Christians to own slaves.
Don’t forget: Genesis claims that the first family was a man, a woman created from him (let’s reinforcement lesser status, y’all), and their three SONS. The usual response is that “faith trumps facts.” Want to make a fundamentalist crazy? Tell them that one of the surviving boys must have undergone sexual transition to make the human race happen.
FiveThirtyEight.com released two maps in October 2016 showing the difference if only women voted and if only men voted. On the women’s side, it’s overwhelmingly blue for Hillary Clinton. On the men’s side, near solid red.
There were cries, not many, but they existed, for #Repealthe19th.
And we know how it turned out anyway.
Men giveth, men taketh away if their power is threatened, apparently. Benevolent overlords?
Right now, voter suppression is an ugly fact of life in the US. Thank you, Supreme Court for gutting the Voting Rights Act. Quick primer: the Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed racial discrimination in voting.
“The Act also contains “special provisions” that apply to only certain jurisdictions. A core special provision is the Section 5 preclearance requirement, which prohibits certain jurisdictions from implementing any change affecting voting without receiving preapproval from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court for D.C. that the change does not discriminate against protected minorities. Another special provision requires jurisdictions containing significant language minority populations to provide bilingual ballots and other election materials.”
On June 25, 2013, this pre-clearance requirement was struck down by the Supreme Court and within HOURS, states that that had been subject to that requirement began filing new laws requiring voter IDs, began striking voters from the rolls, began disallowing certain kinds of addresses. Few if any of these requirements affected the white men who wrote them.
Oppression is oppression. And yes, I recognize that the 19th was largely for white women due to the Jim Crow laws and resurgent KKK.
Grateful to the Nation and the governance.
There is a small grain of truth, I suppose. You can fight until the last warrior falls and still lose. Most peace treaties are some form of compromise, but someone is losing before they’re signed. It’s still not “giving” freedom, rights, etc. it’s an accommodation so the winners don’t obliterate your side.
I am grateful to be an American. I give thanks to the women who made it possible for me to vote. But in no way am I going to bow and kiss the ring of those who denied it to us in the first place.