I have to confess that if conscientious friends hadn’t alerted me via facebook, I wouldn’t have known that today is the 90th anniversary of Tennessee’s ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave the amendment the required number of states to make it a reality. I’m so glad I was reminded.
90 years and one day ago, I wouldn’t have been able to vote. That just…boggles the mind. (I’d probably also have bad teeth and very thick spectacles, but I digress) Don’t get me wrong. I know sexism and discrimination of all kinds still exist today. I work at an organization that has far more women than men, and for my first 4 years, was successfully led by a female President/CEO. More than once, a colleague in the field has asked me, in all seriousness, “so, have they hired some men over there yet? I sure hope so.” I know about glass ceilings, and the many, many inequities that still exist between women and men, between races, economic classes, and so on.
I’m also the first to admit that I am a very lucky, privileged woman. I was raised to believe I could do anything I wanted, and for the most part, I have. I went to good schools, both undergrad and graduate. I haven’t ever experienced what a true victim of discrimination must feel. I have been trying, all day, to imagine what it must have been like to be a woman 90 years ago, knowing that I’m considered less than a full citizen of my country. Would I have had the courage to march, to risk arrest or physical harm, for the right to vote? I honestly don’t know, and that is embarassing.
What strikes me most about today is that my particular gender/race combination got the right to vote only 90 years ago. Just 90 years…a historical blip. Those of us who care about politics and our society’s progression should remember that we’ve corrected a lot of wrongs in the brief time our little republic has existed. There are more to correct. We’re not done. We’re not perfect. We can’t crawl behind walls and wish the pace of social change would slow. Because if it had, many of us wouldn’t have the rights and privileges we enjoy today.