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How We Can Be As Badass as the Suffragettes

What do we do now.

Being the suffrage nerd I am, I recently told my friend "This feels like a NAWSA vs. the NWP time. And I tend towards NAWSA. But it's time for the NWP."

What the hell that means is that when women were fighting for the vote -- when they were fighting against the majority of the country, including a large number of other women -- they were mainly split into two political organizations. The conservative group, the National American Woman Suffrage Association, wanted to do things slowly and not anger those in power beyond what was necessary for pleading their case. The radical group, the National Woman's Party, wanted to win by any means necessary.

The NWP did not give a fuck.

The NWP didn't care about being tactful. The NWP didn't care about stepping on toes. The NWP stood outside your White House six days a week with banners calling you the kaiser. In the middle of a world war. They did this for almost three years. 




Were people furious? HELL YES. Did they tear those banners up? Yep. What did the NWP do? The NWP made more fucking banners.




People urged them towards conciliation. People told them they'd never win by angering people. The NWP set up headquarters down the street from the White House, established dossiers on every member of Congress, lobbied, petitioned, protested, kept themselves visible, and in 1920 they won the damn vote.

This is not to discount NAWSA. Every movement needs a radical wing. Every movement needs a conservative wing. 

To quote 1 Corinthians:

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.

If we can learn anything from the struggle for women's right to vote, it's stay visible. Make yourself heard. Don't listen to "We need to focus on these other issues first." Don't discount how other people protest. Everyone's work here is important.

Let's make Alice Paul proud.

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