Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906), social reformer and women’s rights activist predicted what might happen in the future when women got the right to vote. She said,
“We shall someday be heeded, and when we shall have our amendment to the Constitution of the United States, everybody will think it was always so, just exactly as many young people believe that all the privileges, all the freedom, all the enjoyments which woman now possesses always were hers. They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that she stands upon today has been gained by the hard work of some little handful of women of the past.”
What I have observed recently is that the rights of women are being taken for granted. The recent State of the Union speech offered a timely opportunity for all of the women – on both sides of the aisle – to come together in unity. By ALL women wearing white, they would have made a stronger tribute to the women who made the 19th Amendment possible – giving all American women the right to vote.
Women of all political beliefs could have dropped their political egos and separateness to join hands in a sisterhood of strength. In the process they would not only be honoring those brave Suffragettes who stood courageously for equal rights under the Constitution; they would also have set an example for the men who remain hostile and divided by politics.
Wearing white seems appropriate and represents the positive qualities that are attributed to women – kindness, compassion, fairness, nurturing, and maintaining decorum. Women are mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, partners, executives, workers, disadvantaged and rich – and there is a commonality that binds them in the knowledge and experience of being a woman.
Susan B. Anthony recognized this when she said, “Whenever women gather together failure is impossible.” Why is this? I think it is because women are often the caretakers of our children and teach them the people skills so needed as they build a future that benefits everyone. As a mother and a teacher myself, I taught and modeled respectful behavior and kindness. I set a code of honor for my own children and those I taught. Telling the truth pointed to true north. Bad choices and behavior had consequences that were meant to build responsibility, leadership, and trust. Bragging, name-calling, tantrums, betrayal, meanness, mockery and exclusion were not tolerated. Instead, it was the women in my life who taught me how to negotiate, support, problem solve and make contributions to my family and friends.
Women are still the primary caretakers of our children – and, any lack of respect, lying, bragging, blaming, name-calling, and betrayal is not tolerated. Most women I know, no matter their background or culture, strive to teach children to develop universal values, to be courteous, kind, cooperative and responsible. Yes, there are men who nurture, as well – I am married to one of these kinds, gentle souls – but, it is the women who usually lead the way. The exception is probably Mr. Rogers.
So, as a strong woman and leader in the arts and education, I invite all women to consider wearing white at important events. Together, as women, let’s celebrate the Suffragettes and otherwise women of our past who saw the vision and took on the mission of fighting for “ liberty and justice for all.” Equality and respect, along with dignity and compassion are the deeper qualities that bind us together. Political views can divide us, but women standing together to celebrate and honor the Suffragettes’ accomplishments, can connect us with our hearts and souls.
Susan Cambigue Tracey
Director of Special Projects – Education, Music Center of Los Angeles County Hatha Yoga Instructor and Life Coach