Just a little note before I get into this post – this is not a political post in terms of my own personal political preferences, or how I think the upcoming General Election should go, this is simply why I think it’s so important for women of all ages to exercise their right to vote.
If you haven’t already, you’ve missed the chance to register to vote in this upcoming UK election, as it closed on the 22nd May, but if you are registered, but don’t bother voting, this is hopefully going to make you think twice about that decision.
I’ve voted every single time I’ve had the chance since I turned 18, and I do it for one simple reason – it was quite literally a violent and bloody fight for women to be able to vote. People talk a lot about privilege these days, and I think women being able to vote in the UK is a hard-won privilege that we generally take for granted. Voting and democracy is a privilege for everyone, but for women it was an uphill struggle that claimed a number of lives.
I didn’t actually get to learn about the Suffragette movement at school, maybe because Church of England schools are patriarchal systems who don’t want to upset the male privilege balance in society, or maybe just because my school was obsessed with WW2 (we studied that to the finest point of detail!). So I had to go and learn about these women myself and once I did, I realised why it was so important for each and every woman to get informed and vote.
I don’t care which party you vote for, I don’t care if you go into the booth and write profanities all over it, it’s your vote, do with it what you will, but I do ask that you do something with it and not leave it sitting unused.
People always ask what good it does to vote when nothing changes, all politicians are the same, they all lie and cheat us into securing votes when they know full well they won’t do half the stuff they’re meant to. I would argue that by not voting as a woman in the UK these days, you’re deliberately forgetting the fight the Suffragettes fought, the lives that were lost, the families that were destroyed, and the basic human rights that were violated in the quest for female equality.
We all know as modern women that the idea of ‘equality’ is still almost as far from being a reality as it was back then. There’s still a gender gap as big as the Grand Canyon, still glass ceiling after glass ceiling, and there’s even an increase recently in sexism, misogyny, and outright abuse of women everywhere. What we think of as an equal society is the biggest farce in recent history. One of the few things women have now that we didn’t back then is the vote. A chance for you to use your head, educate yourself, and make your opinion known.
It may not make a difference, and maybe nothing will change, but you’ll know that as a woman you’ve done your bit and upheld the struggle of those women who suffered much worse at the hands of a patriarchy than we do now. We’re a long way from actual equality, but that’s not going to get any better if we don’t make the most of the rights we already have and use them to push ourselves forward to a better, more equal society.
In the end, it’s not actually about voting in one or any election, the principle behind why I vote is more based on the idea that without the blood shed in seeking equality and expanding women’s rights, every single mother in your life and mine would be unable to feed their family. My own family would now be destitute and struggling on the back of my father abandoning us. If Suffrage had never happened, women would be confined to depending on men and marriage to stay off the streets and keep their heads above water.
Without Suffrage my family wouldn’t have done as well as we have in the last ten years. Not to put too fine a point on it, but without Suffrage and the advancement of women’s rights, most women who were pregnant in their teens or aren’t married by my age, or have issues with their parents, would not be allowed to work, own their own homes, or be succesful in any way.
Imagine all of us bloggers, who are mostly women. Here we sit writing our hearts out about what we love, but without fighting for our basic rights as women, we’d either be doing it under a false, male name, or not doing this at all. There’s a reason men in those days refused to let women advance their cause, and it was because they knew it meant that they wouldn’t have full control. Now we have more, but not equal control over things, and you’re not going to use it?
So I ask all women, no matter how you feel about politics, or parties, or elections, to get reading and learning about these things, and then go and vote every chance you get. It’s a question of making sure those women didn’t fight and die in vain so that we could be independent. It’s a question of making sure that we, as women in the UK, stand up for ourselves and make sure our voices are heard, because we are all directly affected by Suffrage and the strides that have been made since then. If you can earn your own money, live your own life, and be your own boss, you are a product of what those women suffered through, and you shouldn’t waste that.
I’ll be casting my vote on the 8th June, and I hope to see every woman I know doing the same, so that we can all stand up, consciences clear, and say that we appreciate what those women did for us to have the chance and the right to make our voices heard.