Women-Power at the Polls.
Every day decisions are being made by politicians that impact women’s bodies, their workplaces, their children’s schools and their very quality of life. But for a ridiculously long time, women weren’t allowed to advocate for their own interests. They didn’t get the right to vote until 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified – this, thanks to our early suffragette sisters who endured indignities, hardships and imprisonment because of an oh-so radical notion that women should have rights. Let me clarify, 1920 is when white women got the vote. It would be another 45 years before Black women could legally vote. Sheesh.
But even with their new-found freedom, women didn’t vote as frequently as men, and when they did, they tended to vote for the same candidates as their hubbies. In 1940, pollster George Gallup said of women: “How will they vote on election day? Just exactly as they were told the night before.”
Yeah, right. Well things have definitely changed over the past hundred years. In the last two presidential elections, women voters have outpaced men voters by about 10 million ballots.
Fast forward to the 1960s
So how did women start outpacing men by 10 million ballots in just a few decades? For one thing, baby boomer girls grew up expecting a college education and a work-life outside the home. Plus, many were galvanized by the fight over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) which, by the way, simply reads: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. This certainly seemed like a reasonable request.
Then came Ronald Reagan
This is when the gender gap widened because women started getting pretty ticked off when issues relevant to them were being sidelined– issues like reproductive choice, pay inequities, cuts to the social safety net and support of the ERA which, opponents decried, would cause the collapse of the heterosexual world order. (No, I’m not making this stuff up). Suffice to say the amendment was killed (for now). Nuff said.
Nevertheless, we persisted
Our nation’s first female Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright famously said: “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”
While neither men nor women constitute monolithic voting blocks, the majority of today’s women are making their voices heard loud and clear by electing representatives who share their values and concerns. Women are not only voting in record number; they’re inspiring massive grassroots movements like #MeToo, Women’s March, March for Our Lives and Black Lives Matter to name just a few. These movements are not only raising awareness, they’re upending political discourse, rewriting laws and fundamentally changing the way we think.
Among today’s most energized voters are Black women who overwhelmingly backed Joe Biden in the South Carolina’s Democratic primary and put his campaign back on the map. If Biden is elected president, this country will witness not only its first woman vice president – but its first Black woman vice president. Hear us roar!
Yes, women have come a long way. But those hard-won societal gains can be lost in the blink of an eye, and this next election may well determine whether we move forward towards equality and inclusion or slide backwards towards inequity and division.
So what are we going to do?
We’re going to vote, that’s what. We’re going to make our collective voices heard and vote as if our very lives depended on it. Because they do. Who we vote for will affect our healthcare, our income, childcare, national security, gun safety and the kind of environment our children and their children will inherit. And when you cast your ballot, remember that you are riding on the shoulders of all the gutsy, opinionated women who came before you.
Make sure your vote counts – plan ahead!
Different states have different rules so go to www.vote411.org/ or www.rockthevote.org/ for personalized, state-specific information. Learn:
√ How to register
√ Your registration status
√ Polling location for your zip code
√ Mail-in deadlines & rules
√ Early voting dates
√ And more!
General tips about mail-in ballots:
√ Get your ballot asap. Mail it back as soon as you get it. (Don’t forget to sign!)
√ If you change your mind and want to vote at a polling place, take your ballot with you. Either you’ll exchange your uncast absentee ballot for an in-person ballot or complete your ballot and hand it in.
“Years from now, this moment will have passed. And our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high?
They will ask us, what was it like?
And we will tell them. We will tell them, not just how we felt.
We will tell them what we did.— Kamala Harris