Standing Still and Carrying On

Women taking over the balconies of a state senate and screaming until their views are heard is nothing new. Ladies, especially ladies fighting for their rights, are very rarely ladylike. "Standing still" carries a very different meaning when you are discussing filibusters.

If you enjoy history, read about some of the battles waged until women achieved the vote. The women marched. The women shouted. The women, and the gentleman who marched with them, "carried on" in the most riotous sense of the phrase.

Anyone who thinks it was an easy victory never studied that little corner of our constantly evolving political saga. Lady Liberty had to tromp past much opposition, as shown in this political cartoon:

Of course, the suffragists were often told to sit down, shut up, and be quiet.  They refused. Alice Duer Miller even composed a very tongue-in-cheek response to the suggestion that women should work at being a quiet influence rather than shouting for their rights.

I think that Alice would have been very pleased by that women are still standing and carrying on when they feel the need to be heard.

A Suggested Campaign Song
by Alice Duer Miller
("No brass bands. No speeches. Instead a still, silent, effective influence."--Anti-suffrage speech.)

    We are waging--can you doubt it?
      A campaign so calm and still
    No one knows a thing about it,
      And we hope they never will.
        No one knows
        What we oppose,
      And we hope they never will.

  We are ladylike and quiet,
      Here a whisper--there a hint;
    Never speeches, bands or riot,
      Nothing suitable for print.
        No one knows
        What we oppose,
      For we never speak for print.

    Sometimes in profound seclusion,
      In some far (but homelike) spot,
    We will make a dark allusion:
      "We're opposed to you-know-what."
        No one knows
        What we oppose,
      For we call it "You-Know-What."

Miller's poem was published in the book Are Women People Too? (1915), now available for free in many ebook locations and on Gutenberg. Miller's poems tweaking the opponents of "votes for women" first appeared as a newspaper column in New York Tribune.  The picture, The Awakening, is part of the Library of Congress collection of her work.


Popular Posts