Quiet Desperation

Let’s roll back the years for look at gender-bias history

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 2/7/18

This one is for Emily Davison. Davison died June 8, 1913, four days after she was run over by a horse. If you have heard of her, raise your hand. I don’t see many hands. Back to her in a minute. …

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Quiet Desperation

Let’s roll back the years for look at gender-bias history

Posted

This one is for Emily Davison. Davison died June 8, 1913, four days after she was run over by a horse. If you have heard of her, raise your hand. I don’t see many hands.

Back to her in a minute.

It’s been less than 100 years since a Constitutional amendment gave women the right to vote. Incomprehensibly, there were 18 amendments ahead of it, including everyone’s favorite, the Second.

The 19th was passed June 4, 1919, and ratified Aug. 18, 1920.

The Declaration of Independence was ratified 144 years earlier. In the second paragraph, it says, “All men are created equal.” Lovely thought, but not quite.

It wasn’t until 1870, when the 15th Amendment came along, that all men were given the right to vote.

Emily Davison was run over by a horse named Anmer.

Remember the Virginia Slims cigarette ad that boasted, “You’ve come a long way, baby”? That campaign started in 1968.

The implication was women had come a long way.

Women — and men — still have a long way to go.

There will be books and movies and documentaries and courses that focus on what has happened over the past year about women’s rights, past treatment, and subjugation, and in the process, many careers will be affected, and effectively and permanently tarnished or ended.

What is Charlie Rose going to do now? Or Matt Lauer? Will we let either one of them back indoors?

Davison sustained her injuries after walking — intentionally — onto a race track.

Why have men acted so loutishly for centuries? The answer to that will be on the syllabus in some of the courses I referred to.

I think the professor will have to go back to cavemen and cavewomen.

I have never been compromised because of my gender. That’s not entirely true, but the stories aren’t worth telling. A student flirting for a better grade isn’t the same as being cornered by a director.

Yes, I may have missed out on some teaching opportunities when schools were opening their eyes about gender and race imbalances in most departments. It didn’t slow me down very much.

I am not Dr. Feelgood. I don’t know what the answer is, or what the answers are.

Many men will go on doing what they do no matter how many marches, parades, articles, lectures, workshops and angry rebukes ensue. You cannot entirely get rid of ignorance.

Davison was a suffragette, but not here in America.

She fought for voting rights for women in the United Kingdom.

She tried a lot of things before walking onto the race track. She went on hunger strikes, she was arrested nine times, she was force-fed on forty-nine occasions.

But it’s unlikely I would have heard of her if she hadn’t stepped it up quite a bit, and left her position along the rail and walked onto the track during the 1913 Epsom Derby.

She was struck by King Edward V’s horse.

The declaration of full suffrage for women in England came in 1928.

My androgyny makes me wonder, over and over, about men, young men, and even boys, who perceive themselves, here and around the world, to be in control of the remote.

By the way, exactly why Davison walked on the track has never been determined.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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