Young Women: What If This Happened To You?
You are a young woman in a modern world. You like to engage on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. You’re into dating and shopping. You love to party with your friends. Basically, you’re the average American young woman.
You post an article on Facebook about abortion and you give your opinion on the controversial subject. Your employer feels differently. They agree with the bill. They call you into their office and explain how your post is against their moral code and they fire you. You try to defend your position and they simply don’t care. You’re fired. No more paycheck. No more health benefits.
You’re angry. You can’t stop thinking about it, “They Have NO RIGHT!!” You start researching and find you’re not alone. Other women who worked for the same company have been fired because of content on their personal Facebook pages.
You get an idea. You decide that you will organize a group of women and you will gather on public property close to where you used to work and peacefully protest.
Five of you gather and hold your signs. You’ve alerted some radio stations and local TV media in the hopes they will pick up your story. Within minutes, police show up and tell you that you must leave. You argue that you are on public property and you are breaking no laws. Before you even know what’s happening, you are all being arrested and taken away in handcuffs. You are stripped of your clothing and treated like a criminal. They throw you into a cold, dank cell and leave you with nothing but your thoughts. You are angry. You are scared. You are raging and you cannot BELIEVE the injustice! No one will listen to you and you haven’t even broken the law. How can this be happening?
As a form of protest, you decide to go on a hunger strike. Days pass, you haven’t eaten anything. Prison doctors put you in a straight jacket and say you’re mentally ill. They restrain you and force a large, cold, metal contraption in your mouth keeping it open, making your mouth bleed and then they stick a long tube down your throat and into your stomach where they pour raw eggs. They do this to you time and again until you vomit blood.
Does this seem extreme to you? Do you think it’s something that would never happen? It DID happen to Alice Paul. In fact, worse things happened to Alice. She didn’t post anything on her Facebook page because she was not protesting about free speech, she was picketing President Woodrow Wilson in 1917 so that women would have the right to vote. She broke no laws. All she wanted was equality for women. Equality for you and for me.
She endured physical torture so you can vote today. In 1920, the nineteenth amendment was ratified into the Constitution and because of Alice and her undying determination, women won the right to vote and it was legally secured. There were many other women who fought with her and also suffered greatly for your freedoms. Shouldn’t the right to vote be granted to everyone?
Here’s the thing, people of all ages don’t vote. 94 million Americans didn't vote in 2012. They don’t pay attention to what’s happening—and there is a lot happening these days that threaten your rights as a woman. People complain their vote doesn’t count for anything. It does. It IS important. I know it’s very easy to focus on the things in your life that feel more interesting or take your immediate attention, like school and friends and work. When I was in my twenties, I paid ZERO attention to politics and I didn’t vote. I was a registered Republican because I didn’t know the difference between the two.
No one taught me about Women’s Suffrage. I didn’t learn about it in school. EVER. Why? Why didn’t the schools I attended tell me about this? This is important history. The incredible and heroic efforts women made are by and large ignored. That’s a shame and it makes me sad. That is why I am writing a book for young women. Voting is extremely important. Why else did men (and some women) fight so hard to keep women from doing it? Think about that. Think about this too: women are not equal in the Constitution. The ERA was never passed. We were short three states. Thirty-eight states are needed to ratify it. Only thirty-five did in 1972 and then it was dropped. Three states. Don’t you think America should legally recognize women as equal? I do. There is a White House petition so that the ERA will be brought to the President’s attention. If you want to see it ratified, sign the petition HERE. And this site gives a detailed list of why women need the Constitutional protection.
Kimberley A. Johnson is the author of The Virgin Diaries and an activist for women’s rights. Like her on Facebook, Twitter or friend her on FB HERE. Check out her campaign to raise money for her next book on Women’s Rights and The Importance Of Voting.