“I CAN VOTE”
Between ages six and twenty-one, girls were taught essential constructs. Early on, it was the Lady Litany: Ladies sit still. Ladies use quiet voices. Ladies cross their legs. You look like a little lady when you wear a dress. And the overarching: Act more lady-like. Once we hit our teen years, we learned the “The Don’t Details”:
1) Don’t swagger like a boy; smaller steps are more feminine.
2) Don’t raise your hand so often in class; no one likes a bossy know-it-all.
3) Don’t look so serious; you’re prettier when you smile.
4) Don’t purse your lips; you look like a bitch.
5) Don’t cut your hair; long hair is sexier.
6) Don’t flirt, wear short skirts, dance too much, drink too much or laugh too loudly unless you want “it.”
In schools, churches and our communities we were pursued by male classmates and neighbors who said they wanted to be friends until turned down for dates, propositioned and preyed on by far too many married men, and bullied by other young women when we could’ve been banding together. By 21 – at best – we’d been warned, judged, criticized, cat called, pinched, grabbed, cornered, labeled, looked over, leered at, gossiped about, propositioned, flirted with, denied access and discriminated against – all thanks to being born girl. These realities of the female experience were as familiar to us as breathing and in fact, normal.
How normal? So normal that our mothers never warned us (because it never occurred to them) and our sisters and friends never spoke about it. We didn’t challenge the status quo regarding these everyday phenomena.We were conditioned to normalize discrimination, coercion, sexually loaded words and imagery, jargon, body shaming advertising, actual violence, emotional pressure, that horrible feeling of being in the wrong place with the wrong person, and the haunting fear that if we spoke up – we’d be ruined forever.
Amazingly, incredulously —at all still applies today. This is scary for some. It’s okay to be scared. Use caution and proceed. One can be scared and a man and speak out for women. One can be human and vote their conscious rather than their Party. Be scared, but be brave. Voting for representation and laws of Equal and Human Rights is one small thing that we can all do. Use your vote, voice, position, compassion and nerve to help anyone who is vulnerable because of their circumstances (gender, sexuality, income, education) and Fate.
~ martha lee phelps
This is Protest Poster #3 from the collection “She’s Still Here”A collection of women’s protest art supporting the equal and human rights of folks from all walks of life, regardless of gender, race, origin, wealth, nationality, religion, ability, sexual orientation, identification or representation.
To learn more and become a Protest and Art Sponsor, please visit Point, Invitation & Message from mlp