As you probably remember, our Founding Fathers decided to count slaves as 3/5ths of a person, a tidy little compromise between Northerners and Southerners arguing over congressional representation. Egregious as that is, this Tuesday it’s also worth remembering that even freed male slaves conceived as worth slightly more than half a human were granted suffrage a half century before slightly more than half the entire human population: women.
Though the United States has much to boast about, women have long been excluded from full participation in the democracy upon which the nation was built. Even in this 21st century, women still do not have equal pay, an Equal Rights Amendment, or the unalienable right to fully control our own bodies and destinies. Women are still under-represented and either over-monitored and/or overlooked. It’s 2016, yet there are would-be elected officials, and millions who support them, who speak, behave and clearly believe women are less than fully human – undeserving of respect, freedom and autonomy.
Given our new century’s stubbornly entrenched sexism and misogyny, just try to imagine what our foremothers were up against when they fought to be heard, to count…to matter. They were attacked, ridiculed, vilified, shunned, and beaten. American women were finally granted the vote in 1920. This Tuesday, many women who were alive before women could vote will cast their ballot, perhaps their last for a Presidential election.
Sadly, there are also many women who will not vote this November 8th. They’ll say they’re too busy, that they don’t like any of the candidates — that their vote doesn’t matter. These women are more than just wrong; they are wronging. When a woman doesn’t vote, she wrongs a country that deserves and needs a leader with integrity and experience. She wrongs her fellow citizens whose lives will feel the consequences of a President’s words and deeds. Women who don’t vote wrong our ancestors who fought so hard to participate in our democracy, and they wrong our descendants who will have to live with the society and the planet impacted by our elected officials.
It’s important that all citizens vote, but it’s especially imperative that women cast a ballot to honor our foremothers, protect our daughters, and to serve our own lives and destinies. Our votes matter because we need to demonstrate that our rights, our voices, our lives matter. That we matter.
Sistahs, see you at the polls!