- - Friday, August 21, 2015

This month marks the 95th anniversary of women’s suffrage in this nation. It seems a fitting moment to pause and take stock of how far we’ve come since the days of those iconic marches for political equality.

The early 1900s were a time when women often faced ridicule for wanting to participate in the political arena; a time when women were to focus only on certain issues — the ones that were deemed by popular society as befitting the proper role and realm of the female. (Ironically, this sounds a bit like being a conservative woman on the national political scene these days, doesn’t it?)

True, we have come a long way, baby, since 1920. But I might argue that in some ways, we haven’t come quite far enough.

The empowerment for which women marched a century ago is being cast aside by many in the media and on the Left today. What now passes for “women’s issues” is a tremendously narrow view of the policies affecting our nation. This manipulation ultimately prevents women from playing a much larger role in the conversation this country needs to have.

In order for women to be empowered, they must be presented with both sides of the argument rather than have the answers dictated to them. This speaks to their intelligence and capability to discern the issues for themselves.

Empowerment is not saying to women — it’s great that you get involved in politics, but only if you are a Democrat. Empowerment is encouraging women to be unafraid to speak their mind, even if it is contrary to the ideology du jour.
We will know we’re moving forward when young women are emboldened to form their own opinions — not those of the media, academia, or Hollywood — but opinions based on their own ideas and research. This is the ultimate empowerment. But we aren’t quite there yet.

One stunning throwback to the “don’t worry your pretty little head” era came last election season, when Cosmopolitan magazine launched the new #CosmoVotes section of its website. The magazine’s online editor described her goal as trying to make elections fun and not “boring and difficult to understand.”

Boring and difficult to understand? Wrap your head around that for a moment. I wonder what the suffragettes might have to say about it. Some were beaten and imprisoned for demanding equal rights at the voting booth … could they ever have believed that one day, American women might find voting “boring?”
Yet, #CosmoVotes apparently assumed women to be so shallow that they offered a contest for a campus party bus with “snacks, prizes, shirtless male models and more” to pique interest in voting. This completely denigrates the intelligence of college women and walks back the women’s movement decades. But still this failed to raise the ire of even the most vocal feminists on the Left.
Where’s the outcry?

On this significant anniversary, take a moment to think about the direction in which we are headed. Why do so many seek to divide our demographic, so that we spend our time arguing with one another instead of working together to make our voices heard? Instead, we should be sitting down with one another at the table, working through our differences, to come up with real, workable solutions to the nation’s problems?

All issues are women’s issues. Regardless of your party or ideology, don’t let yourself be put into a box. There’s certainly no shortage of difference of opinion between American women, but let’s welcome a robust debate in an effort to generate real solutions. Because we can; because we must. Because our nation needs us to. Because we owe it to the memory of the women who marched for our right to vote but never had the opportunity to do so themselves.

As we look back and honor this moment in American history, let’s look forward to the future for America’s daughters. What can we do to ensure that their opportunities will be greater than ours? What heritage are we leaving for them?

What we tolerate today will be our reality tomorrow. So we must educate, encourage, and inspire them to pay attention to — and even become involved in — politics. Bring them along with you to the polls, take the time to explain to them what it all means … what the fight is really about. If our daughters find voting boring, that’s ultimately our fault.

“We are not working to get the vote. We are not going to prison to get the vote, merely to say we have the vote. We are going through all this to get the vote so that by means of the vote we can bring about better conditions not only for ourselves but for the community as a whole.” —Emmaline Pankhurst, British suffragette, 1913

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