Women Drivers: Marguerite’s Musings

Marguerite's Musings (Marguerite Kearns)When I was young, I was confused often when hearing  jokes about women drivers. I wasn’t exactly sure why so much attention was showered on women who drove, though subconsciously it must have made an impact because I didn’t learn to drive myself until my early 20s. Perhaps it had to do with a subconscious desire not to look foolish.

I haven’t heard any woman driver jokes for decades, though I’m certain they’re out there –like in Saudi Arabia, for example, where women aren’t allowed to drive. Saudi women drivers protesting the ban have caused a stir with petitions and women themselves posting their driving protests online. One cleric warned that women drivers could cause damage to their ovaries by operating a motor vehicle. Have you checked the health of your ovaries recently? Find out more. #1. #2.

There’s more information than ever coming down the pike about violence against women and girls, in particular the recent kidnapping of Nigerian students. In the United States suffrage leaders and women’s history is being politicized, no doubt a foreshadowing of what’s to come in the 2016 presidential election where a woman may run for the nation’s highest office. Who would have thought our marginalized suffrage history would come under attack? It’s all predictable. Tighten your seat belt for what’s to come!

Marguerite’s Musings (from Marguerite Kearns) are a regular feature of Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Visit our feature platform for new updates on videos and other special postings you might not see on the email platform. We also have Vimeo and YouTube channels.

Driving in Texas: Marguerite’s Musings

Marguerite's MusingsMy sister and I drove to Texas a few months ago on two-lane and superhighways. Some roads stretched off into the distance of flat land and sometimes the eye could follow a dirt road laid out for miles unsheltered by trees. Most of the time I watched approaching traffic, innocent insects splatting against the windshield, farm fields along the highway and open flat spaces.

Eventually the rental car needed gas, but we’d forgotten or fallen into deep conversation until a bell went off with its warning of depleted resources. Oh dear, we’d better find a gas station. But the next town on the map isn’t even large enough for a post office, so we hold our collective breath wondering how we could have driven so long and forgotten about the gas tank, the world’s melting ice caps, the depletion of animal species, the heavy pollution in the air.

West Texas, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

The small towns of Texas are dying. They’re located off the road, on business routes so I could have easily missed them without slowing down for the gasoline emergency. Tall silos and grain elevators are rusted, crumbling, deserted. The words of billboards past have long since been erased by rain and neglect. Yet half the town remains, as if an invisible knife sliced the town in two and declared that it was normal for big agriculture and GMO seeds to take over and have no use for field hands. Pack up and move to some other place.

Go into the military, why don’t you? The U.S. has unlimited wars to fight to maintain control of the planet’s dwindling resources. A billboard in one town blames everything on Obama. He stared out from an edited campaign poster box that has changed “Hope” to “Nope,” and we continud searching for a gas station while driving past weed-choked yards and lawns and buildings with roofs of shattered shingles.

Marguerite’s Musings are a regular feature of Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Remembering Toshi Seeger: Marguerite’s Musings

by Marguerite Kearns

Toshi SeegerToshi Seeger, AKA Pete Seeger’s wife and working partner, is no longer with us, but her memory lives. Last year I sent a card to the Seeger family to say that I had a tree planted in El Salvador in Toshi’s memory.

For the ten years I worked at Hudson River Sloop Clearwater in the Hudson Valley, Toshi Seeger was a permanent fixture in the Poughkeepsie, NY building serving as office and headquarters. I gathered news, features, and photos, and with graphic designer Nora Porter, we published the organization’s bi-monthly publication.  Toshi arrived at the office after hours often to iron out the details of the Great Hudson River Revival, the summer organizational fundraiser that kept the sloop sailing on the Hudson. Before she retired, everyone understood all the different ways in which Toshi’s tender loving care made the event possible for upwards of 20,000 people each summer. So with all the attention on Pete Seeger’s death in January 2014, I’ve been thinking of Toshi and how he and family members must have missed her in the months following her death.

Toshi had her fingers in many pies. She made the Husdon River Sloop Clearwater engine run. Pot lucks represented the grassroots engine, and for many organizational and business meetings, the chances were good that a pot luck accompanied the gathering, plus great desserts and song.

I can see Toshi Seeger now carrying heavy shopping bags of food and supplies from the car to the building where we met. That’s why the Suffrage Wagon web site features recipes from the Suffrage Wagon Cooking School as a way to reinforce the point that food fuels activism and relationship. Food and pot lucks represent the physical manifestation of a grassroots strategy of bringing people together for hard work, relaxation and celebration. Toshi understood the connection, and she kept the awareness sharp and clear during her many years of being involved in the heart of the organization. No one could call Toshi Seeger invisible. She was and remains a rock permanently installed on the banks of the Hudson River. Today I’m remembering her unique role in keeping hope alive.

Pete and Toshi Seeger supported the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon and the importance of New York State putting it on permanent exhibit for now and future generations. Support our campaign of getting the suffrage wagon out on the road again so people can see it. More information available on Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Photo: Toshi Seeger, 1985. Photo by Marguerite Kearns.

Bread Baking Challenge: Anti-suffragists didn’t rise to the challenge!

Marguerite's MusingsI stumbled on this great article while going through my grandmother Edna’s archives the other day. “Challenge Antis to Bake Bread” shows how far suffrage activists went in order to make their point. During the time my grandmother hit the streets for the cause, activists felt compelled to prove their skills in the kitchen.

This may seem quaint today, but it certainly represented one of the many complex layers that went into organizing for the cause. Grandmother Edna Kearns, for example, canned for suffrage, not only to raise funds to keep the movement alive, and also teach women the basics of canning.

Who’s making bread from scratch these days? Even though terrific breads can be purchased commercially, there’s nothing like freshly-baked bread spread with butter. Yum!

Check in with the Suffrage Wagon News Channel’s video offerings. More than 30 videos have been posted in the past few years. For news and views of the suffrage movement, follow the Suffrage Wagon on Twitter, Facebook, email subscription, and a quarterly newsletter.

Will “Suffragette” film win Oscar for Meryl Streep & new life for women’s history?

article-2580165-1C425C4700000578-184_306x700The filming’s continuing for “Suffragette,” the UK film and already there’s speculation about whether or not Merly Streep will win an Oscar for her role as Mrs. Pankhurst in the production. Not only that, but there’s a powerful media machine handing the film’s photos and press releases. More than 30 photos have been released to whet the public’s appetite for what’s to come. And don’t you just love those period costumes?

This is good for the suffrage movement and the public’s awareness of it as an important time in our history, though I suspect it will take some time for these influences to manifest. Ask people on the street about what they know about the suffrage movement. They’re either never heard of it, or their eyes glaze over. What? They’ll probably tell you that women’s history wasn’t covered back in their school days of old. The times, they are a’changing with an increasing number of suffrage history fans. The growing interest hasn’t yet reached the awareness of the mainstream of women voters.

Some politicians realize they need women voters to win elections, but they may not be so enthusiastic about women voters becoming excited by learning about their history. If so, they might be more inclined to vote for women political candidates and not for the men who claim to be standing up for women. This would be a switch, wouldn’t it? So meanwhile there’s plenty of lip service about women’s issues, but God forbid that women  voters start getting the point that it took 72 years from 1848 to 1920 for American women to win the vote, including the fact that the U.S. had one woman, a New Yorker, (Inez Milholland) die for the right to cast one’s vote.

More events and articles are posted on the internet about the suffrage movement than there’s time to read and stay current. So, the “Suffragette” film from the UK  is expected to place suffrage subject matter square in the faces of the American public starting in January 2015 when the film’s scheduled for release. Try a few links, including an interview with Carey Mulligan. And another piece featuring Carey Mulligan and her role in suff film. The media machine has been sending out great photos of the period production.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement. Stay current on the progress of the “Suffragette” film in production and remember that you read about it on Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

 

 

National women’s museum in Washington, DC might actually happen! Plus Suffrage Wagon videos.

Suffrage Wagon News NotesA women’s history museum in the nation’s Capitol is closer than ever to reality, as the U.S. Congress moved closer to approving the planned institution on the National Mall. Earlier proposals relied on public funding, but the recent proposal involving private funding brought the idea out of the shadows and into the sunlight of possibility. The museum has been an online nonprofit organization for the past 17 years.

House Republicans just may get in line since it won’t cost the public anything. Considerable effort has been invested in giving women’s history a nod. It’s the same legislative body that’s been sitting on the eggs of other important women’s history proposals such as funding for the Harriet Tubman national park and the “Votes for Women” heritage trail in the “Cradle” of the U.S. women’s rights movement in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The next phase of the project involves selecting a site for the museum and hiring a woman architect to move the proposed museum forward. All the other buildings on the mall have been designed by men.

Check in with the Suffrage Wagon News Channel video offerings. More than 30 videos have been posted over the past few years. For  suffrage movement news and views, follow the Suffrage Wagon on Twitter, Facebook, email subscription, and a quarterly newsletter. Check in with the LetsRockTheCradle calendar of  suffrage-related events.

AN INVITATION TO ROCK THE CRADLE!

LetsRockTheCradleWhat started out as a blogging tour of the U.S. women’s rights movement in September 2013 has developed into an online platform featuring suffrage events, historic sites, and action campaigns. If you didn’t go along for the ride. the articles about the “Cradle” are available online.

LetsRockTheCradle will be stirring up activity this summer with the Inez Milholland Festival 2014. Sign up for updates on the festival program and more.

Mark your calendar for the Inez Milholland Festival 2014: 

August 16-17, 2014, Events in the Town of Lewis, New York (12950). Champlain Valley in the Adirondacks of New York State. Subscribe to email updates or follow “The Foremothers” on Twitter.

And the Harriet Tubman historic site located in the “Cradle” of the U.S. women’s rights movement is the featured historic site for LetsRockTheCradle. A related action campaign addresses the fact that Congressional funding for the proposed Harriet Tubman national park has been stalled for ages. Give the campaign a boost with your support.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement.