AUTOBIOGRAPHY WEEK: We're taking submissions / Women's Right to Vote

October 6 /08

Abby and I are now taking submissions for Autobiography Week. We hope you've all been preparing your posts and enjoying your trips down Memory Lane. We need time to process all the entries so they'll be ready to be published by Oct. 20. So please email them to either one of us as soon as you can.


We're at:


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Since it's election time here in Canada, and in the United States, Mama wanted to share this email she got from her friend Ruth. You'll see how far women have come on this continent in a very short time. It's a good reminder why women should vote in the upcoming elections.

This is the story of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, only 90 years ago.

It wasn't until 1920 that American women were granted the right of suffrage.

The Suffragettes, the women who demanded the right to vote were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the right to cast their ballots. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. These were not the women who set fire to mailboxes and planted bombs. These were peaceful protesters.

Forty prison guards, wielding clubs with their warden's blessing, went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

Lucy Burns

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.

Dora Lewis

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 a pail. Their food - all of it colourless slop - was infested with worms.
Alice Paul

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? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?
Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie "Iron Jawed Angels." It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder. All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too, and said, "One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie. What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn."

The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her all over again. HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bingo night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women.

In Canada, the women of Manitoba were granted the right to vote in 1916, thanks to the efforts of Nellie McClung and her colleagues. The rest of Canadian women were allowed to vote in federal elections when the Women's Franchise Act was passed in 1918. However, it was not until 1940 that the women of Quebec had the right to vote in provincial elections - the last province to accord them this right of suffrage. And aboriginal women couldn’t vote in federal elections until 1960.b
What would President Wilson say if he knew that today a woman is running for Vice President and that another woman ran for the Democratic Presidential nomination? We've come a long, long way, baby!


Raising Addie said...

Very cool post, Chef. Thank you!

You can wear anything that you would like for your contest picture. We can't wait to see your mask!

Lacy said...

w00f's Chef, Pawsome post there..our sisters before us, fought hard to protect our rights...we at least owe them, to fight for the coming generations for the same right...heehee mama saidid dat, they still wont let doggies vote..

b safe,

Lorenza said...

Hi, Chef!
Thanks for sharing this post!
Kisses and hugs

Pippa said...

Women's rights? Right to vote yes. But still second class citizens. There is a lot further to go.

Kate (not pippa)

Oh, we tried to look at the autobiog site but it just kept hanging for us, so we will try with a different browser.

Rambo said...

Thanks for the interesting post. I bet that President Wilson is flip floppin in his grave!
Pee ess. we're workin on the autobiography.

Bella the Boxer said...

Oh Chef, what a PAWSOME post!

xoxo - Bella

Jennifer said...

Chef, that was a brilliant post. I felt tears, and anger, pride, admiration, inspiration and many other emotions as I read this piece. PAWSITIVELY BRILLIANT!

Jennifer (Gabe and Willow's mom)

Aniemother said...

You're so very right. We should never forget that the right to vote is something that people fought for. We shouldn't just not bother because it's inconvenient. It really doesn't happen very often (and many have the oportunity to vote in advance if voting day isn't good).


Dewey Dewster said...


we'll get our autobiography stuff goin' real soon and off to ya...

Now that was a really sombering post of what women went thru ta get the right ta in our house we take pride in votin' but a lot of people don't feel that their vote makes a difference and just don't feel that the candidates runnin' are worth steppin' inta the votin' booth fer...with all that's happenin' around the world right now it's hard ta feel confident that anyone has the knowledge ta straighten it all out....our hope is that the best man wins and that the economy is on the road ta recovery....but gee whizz that road has pot holes in it the size of craters.....

Dewey Dewster here....

Moco said...

What a great history lesson. Grammie tells everyone that they can not be in our family unless they vote. She says that voting is a right. If we don't vote we will end up losing that right. Pappy says, "why did you cancel my vote." She tells him, "because it is my right to do that."
I will be sending my autobiography in the next day or two.

Clover said...

Hi Chef!
Thanks for teaching us that - I love learning!!
My mom is glad she will be able to vote next week.
Love Clover xo

the 4 Bs said...

hi Chef, even though we are all boys, we totally support our mom, who is a woman. we know that women are strong and pawsome.


Moco said...

We want to give you the letter M.

Abby said...

Hi, Chef...

Great Post...

My Mom says that voting is sooo important...Especially in these times...

Abby xxxooo

Toffee said...

Excellent post Chef. Thank you. It goes without saying that your girlie friend Gucci will be voting n'est-ce paws?

Mango the Maltese kiddo said...

Inspiration! Encouragement!
You lift my spirit, Chef, thank you.
(my mom send you kisses too)
Yes, we admire our women!
You admire Gucci, I admire Crystal!
Please come to my blog to pick your Award, take one you like, it's my pleasure to pass it onto you!

Momo and Pinot said...

Chef, our mom appreciates this post!! Thanks for sharing part of the history!! 1920 is not that long ago... she often see films from this time.

Momo & Pinot