The Women’s Suffrage Movement just celebrated its 100th Anniversary. One hundred years ago, on June 4, 1919, women in the United States won the right to vote. It would be another year after that before the bill was ratified by Congress on August 26, 1920. Finally, after many years of struggling to be respected as equal citizens under the Constitution, women’s voices became as important as men’s when it came to electing our government representatives.
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Centennial commemorations are often celebrated with public fanfare, parades and documentaries on the news channels. However, this particular anniversary slipped past us with an almost complete silence, which is surprising especially in a presidential election season where there is heightened focus on the importance of voting.
Kerry Slone did not allow the day to pass unnoticed. She is the founder of We The Female, a non-profit organization created to both empower and provide personal security and firearm safety education to women. Knowing Kerry’s love of history, I wanted to sit down with her to talk about what the suffrage movement means to her and to our nation.
Cheryl: Kerry, you are a proud feminist, who is deeply rooted in history, but with your eye on the future. Tell us how being a feminist connects you to the generations of women who worked tirelessly to secure our right to vote?
Kerry: We American women have a long, powerful history of fighting for our rights. Beginning with the Daughters of Liberty, patriot women demonstrated a strong commitment to fighting to be free of a tyrannical monarch as well as helping to shape our nation. Historically, everyone is familiar with the Boston Tea Party; however, outside of common knowledge, [there are] examples such as Sarah Fulton, who created the disguises used to aid the men to complete their mission. Additionally, women also fought on an economic battlefield by initially boycotting British tea before opposing the purchase of all British imports. Their resolve was so fierce that they created “sewing circles” to spin thread to make their own fabrics and textiles. They also grew their own herbs, blended their own teas and created a network of trade and support to ensure a damaging blow to the British economy. Have you ever heard of “Liberty Tea?” Yep! A Daughters of Liberty creation.
Learning about these extraordinary women, and how they exercised their feminine power, used their intellect and resourcefulness as weapons showed their intention and ability to fight, just as their gentlemen counterparts. While their battlefield may have been different, the war could not have been won without them.
Cheryl: When we understand how hard women had to work and fight to secure this precious right, how do you explain the casual attitude women nowadays can sometimes have toward getting to the polls to have their voices heard?
Kerry: Many of today’s women are, for a variety of reasons, unaware of our history. Lack of knowledge can cause us to be complicit, complacent and to behave contrary to what is in our best interest, what I call the “Three Cs.”
Without knowing our history, too many women are inadvertently repeating the mistakes of the past. Instead of understanding feminism’s original intent of equality, they allow groupthink mentality to create paradigms that ironically create a culture opposite of what suffragettes fought so hard to gain.
Politically, these “Three C’s” are becoming increasingly manifested by women not using their voices to vote. This is a dangerous cliff we woman are hanging our toes off of; one that can potentially create a landslide of not only women’s voices being taken away, but all American citizens’ voices. The same groupthink patterns cause us to have an attitude of just “going with the flow” that impedes us from spending time researching candidates and making a deeply and fully informed vote. What others fought for can be taken away if not diligently defended, but at much greater speed when we don’t take the time to use our rights while avoiding the “Three C’s.”
Cheryl: What can we do to help our current and future generations be reawakened to the importance of knowing our fore-mothers and the legacy they left for us?
Kerry: I believe the responsibility of education for our children first starts in our own homes. It is vital that we, as parents, and more so as mothers, teach our children the vital role women played in the creation and rise of the nation. Additionally, the fact that women have been an undeniable force during times of war and adversity – civilly and legislatively. Reinforcing a solid historical frame of reference at home also has a positive impact in our school systems, where greater detail, impacts and connections can be discussed.
This has not been the norm, and requires change, so speaking out at curriculum night, school board meetings and your votes for public school board members will have an impact on the choices of lesson plans that are presented to our children while they are in school. We must take all available approaches to ensure that the legacy of women’s role in US history is not only remembered, but also emulated and carried well into the future.
Cheryl: I love your mission statement for We The Female: Our mission is to inspire American women to embrace and defend their Constitutional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through self-defense and security education. One of the most important ways to secure these things is by voting in public servants who will truly represent their constituents. What can you tell our readers to inspire them to vote in each and every election, from school board to president?
Kerry: As you mentioned, there is a general apathy among the American voters, men and women alike, and too many of us are jaded, and divided.
We need to remember as we step into the voting booth that we are electing representatives of the people (NOT leaders). That is an important distinction. Also, in my opinion, we must stop thinking left and right, liberal and conservative, Democrat or Conservative, and even men or women; we must start thinking Americans.
The greatest impact we can have is to use our voice through our vote – in every election, local, city, state and federal. We must start by creating change at our municipal and county levels. School boards, sheriffs, city council members…. all of these elected offices make an impact. And, make no mistake about it; real change always begins quietly, as a silent, powerful force in the communities we live in, and it takes focused and collective effort and action…and voting, which is the lesson our suffragettes taught us.