Until I was college I had no idea who the suffragettes were aside from the four sentences granted them in my high school honors history text book. I knew they fought for the vote but no clue as to the ultimate peril they put themselves through to get that vote. And about the vote, why did they want it so bad? It didn’t seem to be working out for us anyway.
And then I took a gender communications class in college. I thought it’d help me understand how to speak to mixed company better. As it turns out, it was taught by an uber feminist who really seemed to have very little concern how the other half communicates. More and more the class seemed to become an oultet for her to push her feminist agenda. I didn’t care about feminism. I’d learned enough to know it was a dirty word. Almost better to be labelled a rapist then a feminist. Didn’t those jocks keep getting away with date rape and then applauded for the escape while feminists were described as crazy extremists?
In the movie Suffragettes, Carey Milligan has a great line about war being the only language men understand. It was true in 1918 and it would seem still today.
When it was time to do my capstone project this feminist teacher was part of my review board. I thought I’d annoy her and debunk her teachings. So I reasearched. I read books and scoured the internet and journals.
My plan had back-fired. I couldn’t debunk her. What changed my mind? Which feminist philosopher won me over? None. All. It wasn’t the philosophy of it or the how and the why. It was simple history.
A mother was not allowed to be the custodial parent to her children in the event of a divorce until recent history and by recent I mean within my grandmother’s adulthood. ADULTHOOD. Not her lifetime, her adulthood. In the 1950s a woman’s husband could sign her up for a lobotomy simply for the crime of wanting something more than the life of a housewife.
Look up the term hysterical and it’s historical significance to women. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Here’s a clue, it was once thought the uterus was the cause of a woman’s “blues”.
We’ve had the vote for nearly a century yet we still get paid less than men. I know, an unpopular topic among men and highly paid females. We still hit a glass ceiling if we choose not to play the game like men. It’s somehow shameful to be feminine, both in males and females. Tomboy girls are accepted but according to my sister, I’m a bad mom for letting my niece paint my son’s nails.
We continue to live in a society that promotes rape culture by blaming the victim and slut-shaming. If an unqualified woman gets a promotion over another woman she obviously did some naked overtime, but put a man in that position and there’s a different story to tell. We tell our girls no tanktops in school or the office because it’s distracting, rather than tell our boys to pay attention to the task ahead. Every girl in every social class is trained to walk nowhere alone and never drink from a glass you’ve turned your back on but how many boys are trained to not attack a girl or drug a drink?
Men still feel a sense of dominion over women. Don’t believe me? Ask 10 men if they’ve ever been with a woman who was the breadwinner and how did that make them feel. Ask college boys how many dates they expect before they expect a return on their investment.
We may have won the vote but until the history of that warrants more than four lines in textbook, Suffragettes should be shown in every middle and high school.