By Jen Gurecki | Originally written for the Lady Parts newsletter
On August 26th we celebrated Women’s Equality Day, marking the 99th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote. (It also was my birthday, no coincidence at all.) I love a good party, but this year thought about this day differently.
As with everything women-empowerment-hear-us-roar, there is a tendency to focus on an idealized perception of reality, one that continues to erase and minimize and ultimately hold us back from the change we wish to see. In the case of the women’s suffrage movement, what has been erased are the women of color who fought just as hard as the white women who have been at the forefront of recognition. Even using the blanket term “women” is tricky because at the time of passing this amendment, women of color were prevented to vote because of Jim Crow laws. Even today, we have voter ID laws and voter purges that have made it harder for women, the poor, and people of color to exercise their right to vote.
So let me ask you this: If you are a poor black woman living in a country where white women elected Trump, would celebrating Women’s Equality Day pertain to you?
It might infuriate you, as it should. As should the notion that women were “granted” the right to vote versus the fact that WE FOUGHT FOR IT AND WON. Let’s stop minimizing women’s accomplishments and articulating them in a way that reinforces patriarchal hierarchies that position us as recipients rather than as creators and owners of our own lives.
Want to get more into this topic? Check out this article from The Hill about why we should stop romanticizing the 19th amendment.