What, if anything, would change by people being able to see the billions of stars above our heads each night?
What, if anything, would change if people got out in nature more?
How am I going to critique the suffragist movement, while still giving credit where credit is due, without sounding like a total ass? “i’m a feminist who wouldn’t exist if the path hadn’t been paved by women before me and i take it for granted” is what people will hear, which equals HYPOCRITE. However, I believe that is playing off of an underlying assumption that there were no women’s rights activists other than suffragists, which isn’t true.
I am thankful for what I have today, the right to say these things, or vote – not necesarily because it politically makes a difference, but because they’re rights supposedly afforded to all people living in this country. Of course I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the suffragists were interested in revolution instead of having the same power as their white male counterparts. We are aware of how racism and classism and all other isms have been neglected by our foremothers. Yet instead of really critically analyzing how all of that has shaped the world today, and the fact that we live in a system which demands inequality, we try to “understand” and “make room for” our trans family and sisters of color (as a couple of examples) because we’re aware of marginalization. We read essays from feminists in the middle east or asia, yet we never really confront the fact that we are still helping to exploit others from those countries! Where is your shirt made? What about that laptop or smartphone? We understand in theory, but not in action. And that’s one thing suffragists did have – the ovaries (and socioeconomic privileges) to ACT. To make change.
I cannot sit here and say “damn those suffragists!” when I’m directly benefiting from their political gains, and also from their legacy of strong women refusing to take no for an answer. But they fought for legitimacy within a power structure that only benefits a few instead of fighting the system itself. What have women gained with the right to vote, what have we changed? Did we use it to uplift our sisters of color? Did we suddenly make the world and the political sphere a more fair and just place? Absolutely not! Nor should we be expected to embody the morality for an entire species. But what tangible change has taken place since suffragists won their struggle? (besides planting seeds of resistance in young minds, of course)
These are my thoughts and my issues. I’ve been hesitant to share them for fear of having my head bit off or my “hypocrisy” thrown in my face, it feels like it will be super tiring. But i know it’s a conversation I’ll be having soon, with elections coming up and all. I’m already seeing propaganda on facebook telling women to vote, appealing to emotion and hailing the suffragists.
We gotta break down the capitalistic and Democratic (party, not principles) aspects of this society if women ever want to be free.
All of this being said, Iron Jawed Angels will probably always be one of my favorite movies. Now i just have a more holistic understanding of it. Those women are heroes, we just need to not perpetuate their mistakes, put our faith in a system designed to oppress, or romanticize their victories in such a way as to blind ourselves from the whole truth and alternative possibilities.