Hey, ladies. This one goes out to you.
More than 94-and-a-half years ago, my grandma, Dotsy, was born in New York City on a chilly January day in 1918. It would be another 2-and-a-half years, until August 1920, that women in the United States had universal suffrage, a.k.a. the right to vote from coast to coast.
In November 1981, my parents moved with an adorable black labrador named Coal and an even more adorable little infant (me!) to Tenafly, NJ, where we lived just a few doors down from the Elizabeth Cady Stanton house, as in the house where Elizabeth Cady Stanton once lived. Yes, THAT Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who, along with Susan B. Anthony, drafted the original text of what became the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
In August 2003, I started a graduate program in public policy in California, where I learned a lot about civil rights in the United States, and where I also had an advisor, originally from New York, whose best childhood friend was the present-day resident of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton house.
So, what I'm trying to say here is that women's suffrage is kind of a BFD to me. After all, I have a wonderful grandma whom I love and care about deeply, and who I think is equal to or greater than me in every way imaginable, and I cannot fathom a time -- shockingly during her lifetime -- when this was not a given. And I grew up, quite literally, in the bosom of women's empowerment, which then curiously seemed to follow me wherever I went.
Which all leads to today. And brings me back to talking to the ladies. (People without lady parts, please stop reading.)
Women. Ladies. Magnificent Goddesses of Suffrage: You fought hard for the right to vote. And you deserve to make your voices heard. Loudly. And today is your special day to enfranchise yourselves with abandon. Be indulgent. Treat Yourself to the fabulous pleasures of voting.
In fact, you owe it to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and my dearest Grandma Dotsy to show up at the polls -- even wait in a long line, if you must -- step into that booth, and pull that lever/touch that touchscreen/punch that punchcard/do your voting thing, and then shout out loud: "I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME VOTE!" Or don't shout. Vote. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
And, though I am loath to give any advice to women, since it is truly us men that should be taking advice from you, I'd like to, humbly, offer a voting suggestion:
If you'd like a president and a supreme court that respect your right to make choices about your own body, about whom you can love, about how, when, and even if you'd like to have children, about important and deeply personal healthcare decisions, then I shall most gently and humbly suggest that you vote for BARACK OBAMA. (Also, if applicable in your district, perhaps you'd like to refrain from voting for Congressmen or Senators who think that rape is a gift from god and that women have ways to 'shut that whole thing down.')
If you'd like a president who believes in improving the quality of public education, and in improving access to and affordability of higher education, and in expanding job opportunities and pay equality for women, then I shall kindly recommend that you vote for BARACK OBAMA.
If you'd like to breathe cleaner air, drink purer water, eat safer food, and, yes, live near slightly lower oceans, please consider voting for BARACK OBAMA.
If you'd like to live in a country that cares for its poorest and most vulnerable, its hungry and disabled, its grizzled war veterans and frail but still remarkably adorable little old Jewish grandmas -- even at the expense of higher estate and capital gains taxes for millionaires and billionaires -- then you should probably, maybe, but this is totally up to you, since it is, of course, your vote, not mine, vote for BARACK OBAMA.
Ladies. In closing, I am ever grateful that you had the intelligence, strong will, and perseverance to fight for the right to vote nearly a century ago. And I sincerely hope that you will keep up that fight today. Every time each one of you votes, you are, in your own small way, becoming Elizabeth Cady Stanton. And, for that, you should be tremendously proud. I know I am.