Oh, lucky you. You‘ve managed to land the most coveted table in town. You know the one. That cool, urban OTR restaurant that’s on everyone’s must-eat list: Abigail Street.
Ever since Chef Daniel Wright won Food & Wine magazine’s “The People’s Best New Chef, Great Lakes Division” award — in fact, even before that — people have been lining up for his delectable tapas-style plates. Sharable, mouth-watering offerings such as Hanger Steak with caramelized Brussels sprouts and Sweet Pea and Ricotta Crostini have those in the know happily waiting for hours outside his Vine Street door. You have achieved the impossible. So, what’s the problem?
Your mouth has been oh-so-ready for the dichotomy of the zesty, crisp pita paired against the cool, refreshing cucumber of the Fattoush salad along with the meltingly soft Pan Roasted Cod for days. Thoughts of Chorizo Stuffed Dates occupy your brain even more than your actual human date, yet there’s this sinking sensation deep down in the pit of your stomach.
It’s the crowd.
Everywhere you turn in the NYC-subway-tile covered room are chic, effortlessly dressed women of all ages occupying this supremely hip space. Instantly, the feelings of culinary anticipation you’ve had all week yo-yo back and are replaced by all-too-familiar insecurities. A sudden feeling of angst washes over you as your eyes scan the room and you spy one ultimately stylish, urbane lady, casually draped over a cool cocktail at the bar, and you begin to wonder: Do I fit in? Am I dressed appropriately? Is everyone staring at me? WHY is everyone staring at me?
There’s something about sitting down to dine in one of the most up-to-the-minute restaurants in town that just makes you want to look your best. It’s true, the attire of the crowd does add to the ambience of the establishment, as it should. It’s a sign of respect to the owners and staff of the restaurant who, after all, have spent their hard-earned money and valuable time putting together this magnificent space for your entertainment and dining enjoyment — and it’s respectful to your fellow diners. I, for one, certainly don’t want to look up from my super sexy plate of Chef Wright’s fresh roasted local beets, Grilled Octopus and delicate ricotta gnocchi to see that I’m sitting next to someone in sweatpants. This isn’t the time to forgo grooming or attire and throw on a “head for the drive-thru” get-up.
So, if you’re going to be fed by an expert such as Chef Wright, why not dress like a fashion expert as well, for the complete downtown Cincinnati experience? Coincidentally, just a few feet from the door of Abigail Street is the door to one of the hottest — yet still affordable — OTR boutiques I know of: Sloane Boutique.
Owner Duru Armagan has created a carefully cultivated collection of clothing and accessories, including pieces in all price and age ranges. The personalized service, and the fact that Sloane features lots of local designers and artisans with unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry and fashions, makes it the kind of shop you want to frequent. And the location, smack dab in the middle of all the Gateway Quarter fun, makes it perfect for the whole “ladies night out” shopping/dining experience.
What exactly will the downtown dining divas be wearing this fall? At the fall shows this past spring, Armagan spied and snatched up elegant, traditional tweed jackets in some not-so-traditional colors, which are being paired with casual fabrics such as denim, or rich, luscious leather. Lady-like embellished collars on blouses and dresses are dainty and sweet, often showing up in unique combinations such as leather on silk. Both will be perfect for the “ladies who lunch” crowd.
Personally, I can’t wait for the funky motorcycle jackets in racy shades like Hunter green from a line called Veda, and the furry vests coming into the shop soon. Just slip one of these on whenever you’re rolling into town on your Harley, and casually toss it over your shoulders as you nibble on your wood grilled lamb sliders. I guarantee that everyone in the room will be staring at you, but for this time, it will be for all the right reasons.
From L to R: On Gabriella: Haven Mini, $175; Tatiana Wedges, DV, $76; Stone cuff, Moss Mills, $88. On Ilene: Malia Tweed Jacket, Zoe, $347; Quincy Dress, $154; Orla Wedges, Dolce Vita, $175.
By the time I had my son, I was old enough (ahemmid-thirtiescoughcough) to know my own style. And while I am not someone who spends a lot of money on my wardrobe, I do spend a good deal of time and effort coordinating my outfits. So as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I started imagining how I would dress him or her.
My mom dressed my sister and I alike (we are 19 months apart in age) until we were old enough to protest — around 7 or 8 years old. A twin herself, she’d buy us matching dresses in different colors, and I think that had a profound effect upon our disparate approach to clothing today. My sister dresses like a high-powered executive (befitting her career) with a penchant for expensive name brands from elite department stores, while I shop at thrift shops, and regularly scour consignment and vintage racks that offer the opportunity to buy affordable, unique pieces.
As soon as my sister and I started making disposable income via odd jobs in our early teens, my sister started spending her money on brand names. I can still remember my vicarious thrill over the purchase of her first pair of Guess jeans, and how cool we thought she was because of an upside down triangle on her butt.
When we had our sons two months apart, I realized that our children would reflect that difference in approach — just as we mirrored, and consequently rejected, our mom’s influence.
To me, the idea that you would want to pay someone to promote their company on their behalf seems contrary to my idea of buying clothes, so I would never put my child in an outfit that advertised the brand name. However, being a parent and dressing your child like you is nearly impossible to avoid.
I have a friend from college who wore the pants of an Adidas tracksuit to class nearly every day, usually with a matching hoodie. (Hey, it was the nineties, okay??) Years ago he moved out West, got married, had two kids; and when I got his Christmas card in the mail last year, both of his girls were wearing matching Gap sweatshirts. They were adorable children who looked very happy, but all I could think of was how much like their father they were dressed.
When I found out I was having a boy, I was so excited about the prospect of dressing a little guy. I didn’t want to create a mini-me — that seemed weird and fraught with future emotional trauma for a child of any gender. Yet how else is it possible to dress your kid if you aren’t choosing clothes that YOU find attractive?
You’re probably thinking, “But girls have so many more clothing options than little boys do!” and you’d be absolutely right. Head into any children’s clothing store and you’ll immediately notice the “boys” section is about a third of the size of the “girls,” which is usually heavily cast in — you guessed it — nearly every shade of pink.
At three and a half years old, my son is involved in the choosing of his clothes. Because his Dad and I don’t necessarily agree on every clothing option ourselves — and quite honestly our son’s not nearly as interested in the subtle differences of pattern, color or cut as we are — we do our best to choose classic pieces, which likely reflect our own senses of taste rather than his. My husband and I allow him to pick from a group of “approved” selections (we bent the rules last month and let him get a pair of sandals neither of us would’ve ever chosen). And, although he often he picks gender-neutral greens and purples, I would never deny him anything pink.
My son is pretty much his father’s doppelganger. The Irish-German big head, long legs and delicate features are something he certainly didn’t get from my short, brown, angular Puerto Rican side of the family. Although he acquired my enthusiasm and proclivity for words, the little guy’s resemblance to his dad is uncanny. And while that is especially noticeable when they’re dressed alike, he’ll find his own way of dressing once he is old enough to make those decisions — hopefully we don’t scar him too much in the meantime. Until then, I’ll keep finding really cute plaid button downs and skinny jeans for him to wear.
Django Western Taco offers options for drinkers and diners.
Guys, I feel like we’ve gotten to know each other a bit through my previous two “Her Night Outs,” so I think it’s safe to say that you know I like to make bad/obvious/weak jokes. Therefore, it’s only fitting that for my third “Night Out,” I take the person who inspired my terrible joke-making the most: my mom.
Yes, I took my mom out on a dinner date, and no, it wasn’t miles and miles away. My mom thinks I get embarrassed by her, and sometimes I do, but mostly I think she’s hilarious and sweet and I love her. So I took her out for some Southwestern fare at Django Western Taco to show her how much I care.
It wouldn’t be a day hanging out with my mom if we didn’t get somewhat lost, but this time it was through no fault of our own. I had Googled Django’s address on my (sort of) smart phone, but it was pretty hard to find. There was no signage outside, and the address — 4046 Hamilton Ave. in Northside — didn’t seem to exist. I finally called the restaurant, and as my mom was driving us down Blue Rock Road, I saw the street number typed on a piece of paper taped to a glass door, but it was kind of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it situation.
Once we found the restaurant, we parked behind the forest green building and walked in the door. It was nothing like I expected. Rather minimalist, the interior was a refreshing change from the cloying aesthetics so many restaurants and bars try to employ. There were a few community-style dining tables on the main floor by the bar, then stairs that led to a second bar and a secluded, little room to the right with just enough dim lighting and distance to satisfy my desire for a quiet corner to dine in.
My mom and I sat down at a back table, and, thrilled by the tin wall behind us that was painted a rust color, she exclaimed, “Put that in your article!” And so, obedient daughter that I am, I did.
We were promptly greeted by our server. She was very efficient and knowledgeable, effortlessly and succinctly breaking down the somewhat vague menu options. Django’s menu features a large drinks section, with a good selection of beer, wine, margaritas and sangria, and a small-ish food selection, which is all about basics.
Standard Southwestern options such as chips and salsa, guacamole and two different kinds of queso make up the starters section. And the meals themselves come in “lone” or “bowl” options. The “lone” offering of each item is basically a single taco, best suited for someone dining solo. And the “bowl” offering is a bowl full of meat or beans used to create several tacos — best for a group of people. We went with the bowl of Pollo Verde, which was delicious chicken with a lovely cilantro mixture on top. We also ordered the Pickled Six, a selection of six pickled veggies (including jicama and Yukon potatoes), suggested to add flavor to the tacos, and a side of Dirty Rice.
When I said aloud, “I wonder what makes it ‘dirty’?,” my mom replied, completely deadpan, “I think it’s because they put dirt in it.” We laughed for a good three minutes (my mom’s the funniest). We found no dirt whatsoever in the dirty rice; it’s long grain rice tossed with spices and ground meat, and is wholly delicious. Our bowl came with three tortas, which was plenty for the two of us, and, along with an order of chips and guac, we had leftovers.
I should mention here: we ordered margaritas. Yes, my mother, who consumes roughly one glass of wine a year, ordered a margarita. I was stunned. The woman never drinks! But she was off work for a week, and saucily said to my gasp of disbelief, “I’m on stay-cation.” I love my mom.
And I love her even more because she took three sips of the margarita and declared it a tad too strong for her. I couldn’t drink hers for her, as it was kind of strong, and I was getting too full. But this mother and daughter team is never one to pass up dessert, so we threw caution to the wind and ordered the Tres Leches, a moist cake drenched in three different types of milk (whole, half and half, and condensed) and topped with homemade vanilla ice cream. The Tres Leches was just perfect. Not too rich and not too sweet.
We left Django Western Taco fully satisfied, and I’m sure we’ll be back again. Next time though, no margaritas for Mom!
Gushing over a friend’s latest wrist adornment or tote bag is almost instinctual. After raving about the pop of color or unique design, the next question always slips out: “Where did you get it?”
What if the story of how those bangles got to your friend’s wrist is deeper than picking them up at Nordstrom? For Stop Traffick Fashion, fashion is more than what you put on — it’s an instigator for discussion, and a gateway for women to break free from a life of human trafficking.
Stop Traffick Fashion is a Cincinnati-based online retailer that sells jewelry, bags, shirts and bath products made by women from around the world who have overcome a life of slavery as hard laborers, soldiers or commercial sex workers. Each unique item reflects its country of origin and the woman who made it: recycled paper beads are handmade in Uganda, rice bags are turned into tote bags in Cambodia and brass is hand cut into earrings in India.
Emily Hill, founder of STF, started her sex slavery abolition movement via fashion in 2009 with an emphasis on raising awareness through ethical fashion. Ethical fashion focuses on providing clothing by makers who seek to address at least one of the global issues plaguing the fashion industry today.
“[Ethical Fashion] could encompass anything from what the product is made from — whether it exploits animals or the environment — all the way to who it’s made by,” says Hill. “To produce clothing so cheaply, you can’t be paying your workers a fair wage and they can’t be in good conditions.”
Hill’s priority is the workers.
On a college trip to Thailand, she spent a day in a village with girls who were at high risk of being drawn into sex slavery.
“[Traffickers] go into these really rural villages where people are really poor and lure them with offers of a waitressing job or a cleaning job, and take advantage and force them into prostitution,” says Hill. “Or they can just buy them from their parents.”
While in the Thai village, Hill observed a house full of social workers and counselors, who were sponsoring girls from ages 9 to 18. They were trying to keep the girls out of brothels by providing them with a safe environment, an education and other life skills.
“I can definitely pin that as a turning point,” says Hill. Instead of becoming an investigator or counselor, Hill learned of rehabilitation organizations that help victims process their pain and cope through physical activities like sewing and beading.
“What I think most people don’t realize is how prevalent trafficking or slavery is in the supply chain of everything that you buy,”says Hill.
According to STF’s website, an estimated 27 million men, women and children are currently enslaved with more than 2 million children in the commercial sex trade.
“Child workers, alongside exploited adults, can be subjected to violence and abuse, such as forced overtime, as well as cramped and unhygienic surroundings, bad food and very poor pay.” the site says.
Although slavery in clothing factories is prevalent in many countries, fast-fashion retailer Zara caught the media’s attention in 2011 when, according to Forbes.com, it allegedly subjected workers to slave-labor conditions and 16-hour workdays in over 30 Brazilian factories.
Unlike other retailers that may donate only a portion of their profits to an organization, Stop Traffick Fashion’s products are the reason these survivors have a job.
“This shirt was made by a woman, and they’re paid a fair wage to make it, so it’s not just giving them aid. It’s actually empowering them so they create a sustainable income and support their families, and become fully part of society so they can have a happy, healthy life,” says Hill.
The STF website is a reel of stories of women overcoming tragedy. Like Puja, a 12-year-old girl who was forced into child marriage, then trafficked by her landlord and sold to a brothel. Despite years of physical and sexual abuse, Puja was rescued and regained strength and support in a women’s center while learning handicrafts. She now embroiders beautiful accessories and shares her story to inspire other survivors. She says, “The work … has given me not only my first experience of independence, but also a new identity as an artisan, rather than a victim.”
In awe of the creations made by these women, who have already lived through so much strife, Hill sells their products to try to be one more person out there making a difference. “It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem,” says Hill, “just like any other big world problem that you might hear about. But we encourage people that just small actions can make a difference.”
Photography: Jeremy Kramer. Stylist: Ashlee Mello of A Mello Style and Brooke Kellestine. Production Assistance: Joe Mello. Digitech: Andrew Doench. Hair and Makeup: Sarah Memory and Cecili Robison of Paul Mitchell The School Cincinnati. Models: Kara W. and Molly H. for New View Management.
This cocktail club on Fountain Square creates a homemade Happy Hour.
Mynt Martini, which opened about two and a half years ago, is definitely a downtown Cincinnati hot spot, and manages to keep going strong with its lively events schedule, seasonal drinks and prime location right on Fountain Square. With specials and an urban atmosphere to please happy hour bar-goers and night owls alike, patrons can lounge on the nightclub’s furnished patio or scatter across the trendy bar interior, which is accented with pops of bright, minty green.
From their extensive drink list, which naturally features lots of creative martinis, to themed parties and live bands (dance-punk group Cobra Starship recently performed a DJ set there), Mynt Martini is all about having fun. Just ask the bartenders, like Kayla Lanham. “I love coming to work!” she exclaims, laughing.
Despite the focus on fun, Mynt Martini does take something very seriously: their drinks. They use the best quality and freshest ingredients whenever possible; Lanham even mentions wanting to purchase ingredients from the Tuesday farmers market on Fountain Square.
She mixes, shakes and pours martinis with ease as she talks, describing how much she enjoys her job. “I get to hang out here, make drinks and have fun,” she says. The martini she’s making? The “50 Shades of Pink.” Playing on the title of the popular novel, the cocktail is, as Lanham puts it, “sweet, but with a kick to it.”
Take a cue from Mynt Martini and use fresh, local and organic ingredients when possible to make seasonal drinks at home. The “50 Shades of Pink Martini,” which Lanham describes as a fun twist on a mango martini, is perfect for celebrating the end of summer.
50 SHADES OF PINK MARTINI
3 oz. Three Olives mango vodka
11/2 oz. triple sec
2 oz. cranberry juice
2 oz. orange juice
Fresh, seasonal fruit
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain and pour into martini glass. Garnish with fresh pineapple, mango or other seasonal fruit.
Pregnancy leads one woman to a healthy body image.
After dodging pregnancy for my entire adult life, I am pregnant. “Glee” is not the word I would use to describe my reaction to this news; “stunned silence” is more like it. When I saw that second glaring line show up on that little pink stick, everything stopped. The cell phone went unused, the blog went unwritten, and, unsure what else to do, I allowed myself to slip into many days of deep, satisfying sleep.
I did go off of birth control on purpose. I can’t say the pregnancy was exactly unplanned, but after 15 years of solid, unrelenting birth control pills, I assumed that it would take a while for an egg to drop. Not so much — my body was ready. My husband is thrilled and very proud of his “boys” for getting the job done so fast. I, on the other hand, am floating through nine months of every emotion you can imagine, from hormonally-induced peacefulness to bone-chilling dread.
I am a personal trainer, certified in Pre/Post Natal Fitness and Nutrition and Wellness Counseling. I am also a person who has faced debilitating body image issues and food addiction. I have worked with many women throughout their pregnancies, but the prospect of my own body enduring a pregnancy was beyond me. I was never the girl who dreamed about having babies; I was the girl who dreamed about seeing the Taj Mahal at daybreak.
In all of the years I spent deeply fearing pregnancy — fearing the implications on my body, how much weight I would gain, how I would never get my body back — it never occurred to me that pregnancy might finally teach me, once and for all, not to give a damn what people think about my body. In fact, I never considered that it would teach me anything about anything, except how to endure pain, suffering and exhaustion.
But here I am, and there’s a baby boy on the way. After overcoming the initial shock, I am returning to the land of the living with a few lessons learned from this crazy thing called pregnancy. They are simple and unexpected, and I hope I can carry them with me for the rest of my life.
Food Is For Growth And Nourishment.
I have always understood, in theory, that food is fuel and should be utilized and valued as such. But somehow, it always came back to being about boredom and control, self-medicating and quelling loneliness, a sugar rush and a nice satisfying serotonin bath. In pregnancy, there is a constant awareness of exactly what is needed at the moment, and there are immediate results if I feed my body the wrong or right thing. Food is fuel, powerful and necessary, and the body is going to use that fuel down to its most minuscule resource.
There Is A Time For Rest, A Time To Give Yourself A Break.
I am a trainer. It is my job to push people to the limits, to help them break through their boundaries to reach a higher level of strength and endurance. But when the workout is done, in order to build muscle, recovery time is needed. Rest is a crucial part of the equation. In pregnancy, there is no option: A pregnant woman is called upon to rest, and there is no negotiating. Rest is imperative for health, pregnant or not. I have learned to take heed, to pay attention when rest is needed and to make time for it. I have learned to let go of the guilt of taking a few moments for rest and to enjoy it — the remainder of the day will be so much more productive.
If You Listen Hard Enough, Your Body Will Tell You When The Resting Time Is Over.
After days or weeks of down time, you will begin to twitch and ache for movement. You will find yourself squirming in your office chair during the day, and tossing and turning in bed at night. If you ignore the call for motion, you will slowly grow lethargic. This is the moment you must get up and go for a walk, head to the gym or call a friend to go out dancing. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get going. Give your body what it needs, and it will ask for it again the following day. The first 12 weeks I was pregnant, I needed rest, plain and simple. Then my body started telling me to move, and I slowly, tentatively ventured back to the gym and back to the sidewalks.
I won’t call pregnancy beautiful. It still seems kind of bizarre and freaky to me, but I will call it miraculous. It is miraculous that the body knows how to create another human being when called upon, no matter how freaked out the mother is! And it is miraculous for me, a lifelong body-image cripple, to be free — finally — from trying to fit the mold. Instead, I find beauty in the urgency of hunger and the clarity of purpose, in the body doing its job: eating, breathing and moving.
I look forward to taking this knowledge with me, back to the world of the non-pregnant, because the human body is no less miraculous when it is not making a baby. It just took this massive, life-altering event for me to finally disregard what the haters in my own mind have to say. I’m focusing squarely and intently on the wondrous inner workings of my physical body, loving it exactly as it is and allowing it to do its thing.
Did You Know? Getting Pregnant Doesn’t Mean Nine Months Of All-You-Can-Eat Buffets. According To WebMD, A Pregnant Woman Of Average Weight Only Needs 100-300 Extra Calories A Day.
Ah, September. Even if you haven’t been to algebra class or band practice in years, there’s something about this time of year that inspires young and old(er) alike to do a little back-to-school shopping. It’s ingrained.
Of course, we can’t be expected to properly hit the books without indulging in the best trends of the season. Here are a few of my favorite trends for Fall 2012.
Clockwise from L to R:1. Military is one of those ‘trends’ that never really goes away, so bring on the epaulettes! Military jacket, $38,NVISION, Northside, nvisionshop.com. 2. Color-blocking has given way to pattern-blocking, with designers mixing multiple prints on the same garment. Dries Van Noten blouse, $150, The Mustard Seed, Clifton, mustardseedboutique.com. 3. Leather is everywhere. From full-on trousers to small accents, now is the time to indulge your inner rock star. Blazer with pleather collar, $118,Express. 4. The laminated look gives even basic accessories an edge. Stella McCartney booties, $330,The Mustard Seed.5. Choker necklaces are back in a big way. I like this sparkly-yet-tough version for day and night. Rush choker, $120, Three French Hens, Hyde Park. 6. Go for Baroque with the kind of over-the-top embellishment seen on the runways at Balmain and Dolce & Gabbana. Bra-cketbook, $147, Three French Hens. 7. Tapestry-inspired prints and brocade embellishments were seen on runways from J.Crew to Gucci. Very opulent. Verdugo Ultra Skinny, Paige Denim, $189, Sara Benjamin’s, Mariemont.8. The fit and flare of a peplum top is extremely feminine, and flatters almost every shape by cinching in your waist and creating an hourglass silhouette with those hip frills. Belle sleeveless top, Tibi, $285.
Hair chalking is an easy way to dress up your locks with bold and bright color accents! The chalking process can be done at home or at the salon, and creates matte texture and fanciful color without commitment. By applying color to your hair with soft artist pastels (purchased at any arts and crafts store), you can hop on the dreamy hair hue trend without the permanence and damage of bleach and dye.
Celebrities from reality-star-turned-fashionista Lauren Conrad to comedienne grande dame Joan Rivers have been sporting bright pink strands, and Chanel’s Cruise 2013 campaign was laced with lilac, mint and strawberry bobs. And the good news if you look terrible with periwinkle highlights? No need to panic. Just wash your hair and you’ll be back to your pre-pastel self.
Flat iron or curling iron
Spray bottle filled with water
Good quality soft pastel chalk (Do NOT use oil pastels)
Towel or robe to protect clothing
Gloves, if you don’t want chalk on your fingers
Select a 1-inch strand of hair and spritz with water until slightly damp.
Twist strand slightly at the ends and rub hair with the pastel in small up-and-down strokes. If the color isn’t showing up, dampen hair again and repeat with a brighter color. Apply color to both sides of the hair strand. The better quality pastel you use, the brighter the pigment will be.
Comb through the colored strand with a wide-tooth comb and allow to air dry.
Go over the colored strand(s) with a hot iron to set color. Color will rub off on your hot iron, so use an old one or one you don’t care about coloring.
Continue steps 1-4 on different strands of hair until you have achieved the desired effect.
Finish your hair with a light hold hairspray to help prevent smudging. (Fun fact: Soft pastel artists also use hairspray as a fixative to protect their finished paintings.)
Chalking will work on all hair colors, but keep in mind the lighter your hair, the longer the color could possibly remain in your hair.
Try using two colors on one strand.
You can chalk one strand or many. Try chalking just the ends to create an ombre effect.
Do not chalk hair too often. Powder pigment can suck up a lot of the hair’s natural moisture. Follow each chalking with a deep conditioning treatment.
There is a possibility the chalk will rub off on your clothing, so keep that in mind when you’re getting dressed. If you’re worried, try an up-do, and avoid rain, sprinklers, etc.
A survey conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute found that interaction workers (a fancy term for office rats, like me) spend an estimated 28 percent of their workweek responding to, reading and organizing their email inboxes — which translates to 11.2 hours of the standard 40-hour week.
While that statistic isn’t surprising, the amount of time I spend sorting through my email does annoy me. And lately, because it’s an election season, my inbox has taken even longer to get through because of the flood of political spam.
Typically, I delete these emails before I even open them, but recently the gender focus and party neutrality of an email subject line caught my attention: “Fw: Fwd: TRUE STORY EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW! — particularly in an election year, whether you are Republican or Democrat.”So I clicked on the message and began to read.
“This is the story of our mothers and grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago,” the message read. “Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.”
I knew where this email was going.
In high school, I had learned about early suffragists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had crafted the Declaration of Sentiments (the document that boldly declared all men and women were created equal), and Susan B. Anthony, who co-founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) with Stanton. I already had a working knowledge and respect for these women, so I didn’t think I needed to read on.
I was about to delete the email when I glanced at a paragraph halfway down the screen.
It read: “Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of obstructing sidewalk traffic. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night.”
According to the author, suffragists in the early 1900s were arrested for carrying signs in front of the Whitehouse asking for the right to vote. Police arrested the picketing women, known as “Silent Sentinels,” a term coined by Stanton’s daughter, for charges of obstructing traffic. The arrested women refused to pay a $10 fine in court, so they were sent to the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia to carry out their sentences.
On November 15, 1917, a night that was later dubbed the “Night of Terror,” 40 prison guards brutally beat the 33 incarcerated suffragists, and then left them without medical attention. They chained Burns’ arms above hear head when she tried to raise the spirits of other prisoners, smashed protestor Dora Lewis’ head into an iron bed, rendering her unconscious, and choked and kicked the other women.
Admittedly, I was a little surprised by the information, and I wasn’t convinced that it was correct, so I took to my bookshelf and pulled out my old women’s studies textbook. Inside, I found nothing about suffragists in jail. Then I turned to the internet, where .orgs, .govs and Google Books confirmed what I had read.
According to the National Women’s History Museum’s website, starting in June 1917 and continuing through October, suffragists like Burns and Alice Paul were arrested at the gates of the White House while picketing with signs that read, “Mr. President, what will you do for women’s suffrage?” and “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”
The women were part of the National Woman’s Party (NWP), which was a nonpartisan feminist group that favored a more politically aggressive approach to women’s suffrage than the NWSA. They were the first group in the U.S. to pursue a nonviolent civil disobedience campaign by organizing marches and peaceful protests on behalf of women’s suffrage.
Paul and members of the NWP feared that the onset of World War 1 in April 1917 would sideline their cause, just as the Civil War had done to the first wave of feminism in the 1800s, so instead of focusing on the war-relief efforts, the suffragists decided to pursue their activism by picketing the Whitehouse — where they were repeatedly arrested.
While incarcerated in the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia, the suffragists were indeed beaten by prison staff, refused medical attention and, after organizing a three day hunger strike, were force fed through feeding tubes. (When Burns refused to open her mouth, the guards stuck the feeding tube up her nostril.)
As I researched, I started thinking about the similarities between the leaders of the American Revolution and the leaders of the women’s rights movement. After all, Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence in 1776 because American colonists were not being represented under British law. Supporters of the women’s rights movement thought women should be represented under the law, too. Stanton even modeled the Declaration of Sentiments after the Declaration of Independence in order to stress the American values of freedom, personal rights and equal representation … for all genders.
So take a few minutes to read about the lesser-known leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. And when you go to the polls this November, remember the very real sacrifices they made for equal representation, and for your voice to be counted.
Sarah Grimke (1792-1873) And Angelina Grimke (1805-1879)
Writers And Lecturers
Sarah Grimke and her sister, Angelina, broke social barriers that denied women the right to publicly speak in the 1800s. The sisters were among the first American women to publicly lecture, and they wrote letters in defense of equal rights for slaves and women. Sarah and Angelina also published anti-slavery and pro-women’s rights pamphlets, which were burned in their home state of South Carolina.
In 1837, Sarah wrote a book, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, which defined the differences between sex and gender, and aligned the abolitionist cause with the women’s rights movement. Sarah and Angelina continued to support abolition and women’s rights throughout their lives. Their courage to stand up for important causes in the face of societal disapproval inspired women’s rights and civil rights leaders to come.
Founder Of The NWP (1885-1977)
Alice Paul, former member of the NWSA, founded the NWP in 1913. While members of the NWSA favored a state-by-state approach to suffrage, members of the NWP supported the passage of a constitutional amendment that would guarantee women the right to vote.
In 1913, Paul organized a march on Pennsylvania Avenue for women’s suffrage. The march took place on the same day as Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration. It started off successfully, but soon turned ugly when angry crowds began spitting on, hitting and tossing lit cigar butts at the women marchers.
In October 1917, police arrested Paul while she and other members picketed the Whitehouse. She was sentenced to seven months in jail and placed in solitary confinement for two weeks. While incarcerated in Occoquan, she started a hunger strike to protest her unlawful arrest. She was placed in a mental institution, where prison wardens tried to get her declared insane by psychiatrists. When the psychiatrists found nothing wrong with her, prison officials forced a feeding tube down Paul’s throat.
For nearly two weeks this went on, until Paul smuggled word out to the press of her unfair treatment while incarcerated. In response to public outcry of her treatment, and the jail’s inability to stop the picketers’ hunger strike, Paul, along with the rest of the incarcerated suffragists, were unconditionally released in November 1917.
After women earned the right to vote, Paul turned her attention toward the Equal Rights Amendment, which would guarantee women federal protection. She served as a women’s rights activist until her death in 1977.
Member Of The NWP (1879-1966)
Lucy Burns was a member of the NWP and close friend of Alice Paul. Burns and Paul met in England in the early 1900s, where they both worked as activists for the British women’s rights movement. Burns spent more time in jail than any other American women’s rights activist. On the “Night of Terror,” after prison guards handcuffed her wrists to the bars above her head, other prisoners showed Burns alliance and support, sleeping with their hands above their heads as well. Burns was repeatedly incarcerated and released from prison, but continued to picket the Whitehouse and demand suffrage until the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920.
After women won the right to vote in America, she retired from activism, exhausted, and spent the rest of her life taking care of her orphaned niece.
Although Frederick Douglass is most known for his contributions to the Civil Rights movement, he also was an outspoken supporter of women’s suffrage. Douglass wrote fierce editorials in defense of women’s rights like “The Rights of Women,” and “Women and the Ballot,” which appeared in his abolitionist publication, the North Star. In 1848, Douglass participated in the first Women’s Rights Convention in Rochester, New York, where he signed Stanton’s Declaration of Sentiments. The Declaration of Sentiments, which, again, was modeled after the Declaration of Independence, demanded that the rights of women be acknowledged by society. While members of the abolitionist community sometimes criticized Douglass for his involvement in the women’s movement, he nonetheless continued to support the cause while also advocating for the rights of slaves in America by publishing editorials, attending conventions and publicly speaking.