This month marks the 100th anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote, a historic centennial that changed society for the better.
The farmyard chicken, which brings us the precious egg, and the courageous women that led the revolt share some similarities. This is not to devalue the enormous step made possible by very persistent women for 41 years to bring about the historical change in August of 1920 by Woodrow Wilson.
One commonality in both the suffragettes and the chicken is their fashion sense. Both women and chickens wear “bloomers,” which came into being in 1851 because of the women’s right to vote movement. Bloomers were aptly named after the temperance newspaper publisher Amelia Jenks Bloomer. The puffy pants were created to circumvent the difficulties of trying to march, participate in demonstrations and board trains without hoops and corsets. Chickens also wear feathery bloomers in the form of poufy feathers right above their ankles. It became necessary for the suffragette movement to discard their bloomers because their right to vote message was getting lost in the wearing of them.
Another similarity in both cases is the persistence and tenacity that it took to pass such a monumental and vital piece of legislation, as it is in the laying of an egg to nourish humans.
Both functions affected the economy of our society and were very necessary for the survival of humankind. Women persisted in attempts to get this enlightening and critical piece of legislation accepted as the 19th Amendment. The chicken often rejected amongst their coop mates must literally peck their way to survival. Women had to fight diligently so that our whole society could reap the benefits economically.
There was a marked change in spending when women received the privilege and power to vote. Then came the gradual embrace of gender equality. Child mortality rates dropped by 15% as there began an increase, and awareness, of the need for more social spending on hospitals, charities, and organizations to improve the human condition.
Another ripple effect of women voting was that children stayed in school longer than before, and many states experienced an increase in school enrollment. A study published by Dartmouth College stated that the “main benefit from the suffrage movement may have been to raise the bottom and middle of the distribution of history of the less educated communities.”
I gaze out my kitchen window every day and am blessed to be looking at a very industrious group of chickens that I call “the girls.” I marvel at their perseverance amidst so many obstacles, just as our suffragettes once experienced.
Chickens must contend with pesky roosters continually interrupting the girls as they forage for food and making unwanted demands. The chicken, it seems, is an excellent multitasker as well. When they are met with defeat or rejection, they return to the fray again and again until they accomplish what is needed.
Our dedicated leaders did the same thing. Their perseverance for the cause made victory inevitable even as they had to contend with so many distractions. There is as little rest for the chicken as there was for the brave women pushing for their right to vote every year amidst so much scornful turmoil.
Our misunderstood chickens continue to persevere and continually lay eggs after egg, not because she wants to. She must because nature dictates that she does. Then a human comes and interferes with her motherhood as her lifegiving eggs are plucked from her nest as she is diligently trying to survive. Seeing any similarities yet?
The feathery girls that I gaze upon each morning take care of each other, much like the suffragettes did back then. The girls gently peck at each other as they glean tasty bugs from around their faces and feathers. Quite a sight to see – it looks as the most intense conversation is taking place when they peck each other around their face but never the eyes.
As with our plucky suffragist movement, women were always in competition with old ways of thinking, obstacles in the form of government and the thought processes of the “roosters.” President Wilson finally saw the value of passing the amendment when he witnessed the critical roles women played during World War I. He also was displeased that they would clog the streets and disrupt traffic with their marches.
Women’s right to vote prevailed, indeed, as do our chicken friends. Both of which have permanently enhanced our palate and our economy. Let us find ways to celebrate this milestone of democracy and honor our tasty underdog.