Rogue Element #105: The Vagina Vote
By Avril Brown
Four years ago I wrote a column expressing my excitement over the 2008 Obama/Biden vs. McCain/Palin election. Although I was a little frightened that somehow the Republicans would once again find themselves in the White House, putting Sarah Palin one heart attack away from one of the most powerful positions on the planet, the Obama platform was strong and speaking a language people at the time were listening to. His promise of change breathed new life into a stagnant, frustrated country, and while those of us who voted for Barack Obama celebrated when he won the office, many of us were not surprised.
My declaration from four years ago still stands: I abhor politics. When I say I am a Democrat and an Obama supporter, I am not stating I agree with everything the party, or the man, does. What I care about, what I am passionate about, is basic human rights, and I support the people and the party that show they feel the same way, which is precisely why I feel it is more important than ever to vote, especially for women.
Almost two years ago Rahm Emanuel was running for Mayor of Chicago. I was not feeling particularly enthusiastic about this election and had almost given up on voting, until the end of the day, with the clock winding down, I just knew without a doubt I needed to vote. I ran from the train station (that alone should suggest how important this was to me; I typically avoid running unless someone is chasing me with a chainsaw) and arrived at my polling place with minutes to spare. Slightly sweaty and out of breath I was directed to a woman’s table to be assigned my voting card, and what she said to me that day will forever be a part of my soul.
She commended my exhaustive efforts to vote, praising me for exercising my right to help choose our elected leaders. “So many young women forget we had to fight for the right to vote,” she said. “It’s only been several decades since women were protesting in the streets, facing jail time and physical abuse, so that women in future would have this right that was denied to them. Women fought for, and died for, a right too many people take for granted nowadays.”
I felt something awaken inside of me as I thanked this woman and expressed my wholehearted agreements with her statements, and her fervor. I took my voter’s card with a renewed sense of purpose and duty, not only to my city, but to my gender. I voted that night for myself, for Chicago, and for the women who bled so I could choose.
‘Mary Poppins’ was one of my favorite movies growing up, though I remember being rather confused at what Mrs. Banks what so excited about. Vote for women? Vote for women to do what? With time, education and perspective came appreciation for that marvelous scene, and for all the Sister Suffragettes who were clapped in irons so they could be heard, and we could vote.
I am a bisexual woman who believes in equal marriage rights and pro-choice, and I am utilizing my right to choose; a right I hold dearly and pray will never be limited ever again. Which, in turn, is one of the main reasons why I am voting in this election.
The last time I wrote about an election, I spoke of how voting is akin to a super-power: it grants your everyday citizen a chance to participate in one of the most important decisions the country has to make. For women, we battled for this power, this right, that many were born with. We are not the only group to have waged this war and won, and it is important for all of us to remember the lives lost and sacrifices made, so every (non-felon) human being, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc., can continue to make choices about our lives and country.
So I say: well done, Sister Suffragettes. Whom I vote for is my choice, as it is everyone else’s, which is the crux of what you were fighting for, but the reason why I am voting is because of you. So cast off the shackles of yesterday, and march shoulder to shoulder into the fray. Know that your daughter’s daughters do adore you, and we continue to sing in grateful chorus by honoring your fight every time we walk into a voting booth. Well done, indeed.