SuffraGETtes get it done: The original Nasty Women

Feb 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

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Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Kate M. Gordon, the women’s suffrage movement was strong, fierce and full of women we continue to look up to, especially today.

Referred to as “Suffragettes” (a term now held in high regard as the group of fierce women who gave us our rights), it was used to describe a very specific - and controversial - kind of woman. Through the late 19th to early 20th centuries, the Suffragettes were a group of women advocating for women’s rights to vote in public elections.

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While a suffragist is someone who advocates for the right to vote, these women were coined as Suffragettes, a demeaning term. From the French origin, “-ette” was used to make something smaller, weaker, less real or more feminine (which at the time was pretty much the same). By the time the early 1900s rolled around, the “-ette” was widely known as a suffix that could be plopped onto the end of any word to convey that the thing was small or womanly.

In 1906, the New York Times defined Suffragette: “Suffragette (Strix Flagitans): A woman who ought to have more sense.” For the record, strix flagitans is Latin that roughly means “demanding screecher.” Most articles about the Suffragettes recounted stories of them storming city halls, spitting at police and generally terrorizing society as over-the-top feminists.

To counter, the group reclaimed the word - turning it into a positive. They weren’t storming city halls by accident - they were proactive members of society. Where the Suffragists “jist want the vote” a suffraGETte will get the vote, they noted.

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Much like the LGBT community adopted queer, Democrats embraced Obamacare and women now proudly call themselves Nasty.

When World War I broke out, Suffragettes and the anti- loosened their grip on the suffix and other segregating words in a show of nationalistic solidarity. Following the war, British women won their suffrage in 1918 and American women followed in 1919 with the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Going through women’s history, you see a lot of things happening over and over again. Women running for office, not being taken seriously, not given equal rights or pay. It happens in multiple countries, it happens in multiple centuries. Time to take our history, embrace it, and move forward.

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This season’s You Go Girl collection was inspired by Rosanna president and Art Director, Rosanna Bowles. After talking with younger women in the Rosanna team and her own daughters, Bowles realized the rich history women shared wasn’t something the new generations of girls were very aware of. Realizing that launched the entire Rosanna team into a frenzy of studying, designing and mapping out concepts to not only create beautiful pieces, but ones that empower, educate and spread love from one group of women to the next.

After all, they say those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it.