Monday, May 27, 2013

Suffragettes and my first blog

"Keep in line, ladies."
Blog. I can remember when I first heard the word Blog. I thought it was a strange sounding word, not a graceful sounding word, but guttural, more like a caveman’s name, or excuse me, the sound one makes while upchucking. So, with all my reservations in mind, I’ve watched blogging take off to the tune of millions of public blogs in existence.

I never thought I’d be doing a blog as my frame of mind has always been that blogging takes a lot of time, and that would be away from my writing, away from my family, and in general away from life. But, I am going to do a blog, and it’s called Mercer Musings. Now, I’m wondering what I will be writing about that will tie this blog in with my first novel, Even Nectar is Poison, recently published, and I think it will be what I know best. History and Suffragettes.

Wow to the power of women in the early 20th century and I bow to them. They were more than just women running around with picket signs trying to find a smidgen of equality in a man’s world. They took on a myriad of issues from workers rights, child labor in the work force, meager wages, and unionizing to name a few.

One woman in particular, Mary “Mother” Jones, who was an Irish Immigrant, stood fast and furious with her approach to organizing workers to fight the brutality they were forced to suffer at the hands of business owners who enlisted the militia to keep their work force in line. Mother Jones said these eloquent words, “Some day the workers will take possession of your city hall, and when we do, no child will be sacrificed on the altar for profit.”

The 1910 era business man was put on a pedestal while the worker (usually a woman or child) worked from dawn to dusk, six days a week, for the average wage of $6.00 a week. Most workers were not allowed to talk, have breaks, or receive overtime. Their employers made it their business to keep them in isolation and fear.

Women like Isabella Ford, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Harriet Stanton Blatch were just a few to organize women’s unions to fight against the injustice. One Clara Lemlich, a worker in the textile industry, once had her ribs broken when police attacked the picket line she was in. This only fired her up to organize more strikes and call for unity amongst all workers. Clara Lemlich cited the Jewish pledge, “If I turn traitor to the cause I now pledge, may this hand wither from the arm I now raise,” and her battle cry led to the Revolt of the Thirty Thousand which lasted close to a year. It also proved that once women organized they became a power impossible to ignore.

Yes, we women of the twenty-first century owe a lot to those who came before us. I have to ask, are we done yet? I don’t think so.