Women’s Equality Day, created to commemorate the right to vote gained by U.S. women in 1920, was challenged by some women of color and feminist groups on Wednesday for failing to recognize the historic denial of voting rights based on both race and gender.
Hess Stinson, a mother and feminist activist, decided to edit a widely-shared Facebook meme celebrating U.S. Women’s Equality Day, which appeared on the top of many users newsfeed, portraying what she saw as a more historically accurate account of the rights gained in 1920.
Stinson created a shocking response to the Facebook meme in an effort to remind social media users of the historically exclusive nature of the U.S. women’s rights movements | Photo: Facebook
“I think the original creators of the photo meant well. They wanted to be diverse, they wanted to include everyone, and that is not a bad thing. (But) the suffrage movement did not include everyone,” Stinson told teleSUR English. “The visual face of the women's rights movement was very exclusive.”
“I wouldn't have been able to vote. My great great grandmother, on both sides, couldn't vote as women of color,” she added.
Stinson’s image, which was shared over 900 times on Facebook, is a reminder of an often-forgotten and neglected history that saw white women colluding with white men to obtain their rights at the expense of Black people, Native Americans, and immigrants.
While many white female suffrage leaders, like Susan. B Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton, joined the abolitionist movement, they were outraged when black men were granted the right to vote in 1870. Suffragettes subsequently made arguments in favor of granting rights to white women based on their racial alliance with white men and their common belief of superiority over black people.
“What will we and our daughters suffer if these degraded black men are allowed to have the rights that would make them even worse than our Saxon fathers?” Stanton was recorded saying.
A Facebook post, published by Feminists United on Wednesday, sought to remind people of this often ignored history.
The post, which decried the notion that all women citzens were enfranchised in 1920, was shared nearly 2,000 times, and sparked huge debate with some accusing the feminist group of “demonizing” the suffragettes and shedding an “ugly” light on history.
For Stinson, a reminder of such historical truth is necessary and important because “history is often so whitewashed that we see white women as the default of ‘women’ and white people as the default of ‘people’. So it is often shared as if certain movements that were most beneficial for white people were completely beneficial for us all, when it wasn't.”