Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Thanking the 19th Century


100 years ago, in the United States, women could not vote in a national election (that right was granted by the 19th amendment, ratified in 1920) nor in many local/state elections.

I don't often write blog posts from prompts, but I could not resist today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  "Write an open letter thanking a historical figure for her contributions to the world."

 
This building is the Wesleyan Chapel, located in Seneca Falls, New York.  The original building (most of this building was a reconstruction) was built in 1843.

In this building, in  July of 1848, the First Women's Right Convention was held.  Out of this convention a document called the Declaration of Sentiments came, signed by 68 women and 32 men.

I would like to write this letter to all the signers of this document, but especially, the women:

"Dear signers of the Declaration of Sentiments:

"I owe so much to you, as a married woman living in the United States.  Due to your courage:
-I have the right to vote
-I can keep the wages I make
-I have the right to own property and to pass it down, upon my death, to the person or persons I choose
-I have the right to an education.

and I have other rights women in some other countries don't have - the right not to have their bodies mutilated,  the right to marry or not marry, the right to become or not become pregnant, the right to attend school without worrying about being kidnapped and sold into slavery, or being killed, and even the right to drive a car.

If I wanted to write a book, I could do that under my own name.  I wouldn't have to pretend to be a man.

It took so many years for you to win those rights for me.  Instrumental in getting these rights were your efforts in getting women the right to vote.

And now, too many women take these rights for granted.  Many of us don't vote.  We don't take advantage of educational opportunities.  We devalue ourselves.

A sad thing about history is, if you didn't live it, you tend to forget it.  I can remember the days of "Male" and "female" help wanted ads, just as one example.  I can remember when one of my high school teachers became pregnant, and had to leave when she started to show. (This, incidentally, was in 1969.)

You all taught me never to take rights for granted.  Rights taken for granted are rights lost.

Worst of all, there are places where women have never had those rights, and both men and women suffer for it. That's part of women's history, too, the story of the present.

Those once called suffragettes, thank you for your courage.

Thank you for what you did for generations yet unborn. Like mine.

Sincerely,

AM"

Do you vote?

11 comments:

  1. This is just beautiful, Alana! We certainly owe a lot to those women of long ago. They had to work so hard to get us where we are today. Bravo!

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    1. Thank you for the compliment, and for understanding the sacrifice of those who came before us.

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  2. GREAT letter, Alana. It seems unbelievable now, doesn't it, that there was a day--and not so long ago, either--when it wasn't lawful for women (or blacks) to vote? We really have come along way (baby).

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    1. It is something we should never forget. And, I'm old enough to remember the Civil Rights struggle, too. Sad to realize how long, within my lifetime, certain things we now take for granted took.

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  3. Grateful for these rights and for the women who have fought and sacrificed to ensure that they become inalienable. Thanks for your post.

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    1. Thank you for dropping by. I saw a car ad today saying "only those who dare drive the world forward". It's so true. I hope I never forget the sacrifice of those who preceded me.

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  4. Fortunately we live in a time where I can't even fathom not treating women as equals. Hopefully the future will bring the same concept to other classes that are currently suppressed.

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  5. Absolutely beautiful post! We all take these rights for granted, especially me. How much time has changed everything. Thank you for bringing this to front burner.

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  6. So true. We easily forget how other women suffered to make the way easier for all of us today. Things change so quickly. Only twenty years ago, a woman couldn't compete in parliament.

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  7. Great letter Alana, Hearttouching. Coming from India, I did not miss any of the above said right but here in the USA my right to earn was taken away. It was a damn difficult period for me. I know and understand that every country has rules but this took away our dignity also. Now we are having the right to work again, I feel I have come out of a doldrum. So, what these rights mean, I can understand very well :)

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  8. True, we forget the history we don't live often taking it all for granted. So much more still needs to be done all over the world.

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