Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Inspiration: Alice Paul
In school, I’ve never had a class that truly stressed the women’s suffrage movement, and to hear the stories in my American History class and watch “Iron Jawed Angels,” I have completely fallen in love with everything about it. The stories about the women that fought so hard for equality are moving. These were women going against the grain and doing things that weren’t considered socially acceptable because they knew in their hearts it was something they desired. They knew that something wasn’t right in the world, and they put in countless time and effort to make the changes necessary. It is appalling to think how long and hard they had to work for the right to vote...and equality between men and women is still being questioned today.
Through all these stories, my favorite is definitely that of Alice Paul. Her tactics and her fight are an inspiration to me personally. When Alice Paul joined the fight for suffrage in the United States, she had to join ranks under old-fashioned, long-residing women such as Carrie Chapman Catt. Alice Paul had new, radical ideas for making a change, and for Carrie Chapman Catt, they were completely out of the question. But Alice Paul made a storm, and worked towards making huge changes, while Carrie Chapman Catt and company used old tactics to try and make new, revolutionary changes.
You can’t use old tactics on a new problem. Alice Paul worked with the changing times. This idea is an inspiration to me: a young journalism major.
Entering college with the economy in the tube, times are obviously rough. Print journalism is failing everywhere, and this is what I intend to major in. However, if you look to major newspapers that are failing, a lot of veteran journalists (Carrie Chapman Catt-types) are not embracing new advancements in technology and are not using the Internet in a new way. When I first fell in love with journalism, I feared the dying newspaper trend. I also loathed the idea of using the Internet to revitalize journalism because of my love for print journalism. However, I have now learned that I have the upper hand in solving this crisis. Coming in as a journalism major and being a part of the first generation to grow up with the Web, I have an advantage. Young journalists can come in with these “radical” ideas so to speak, and maybe cause a stir as well as make a change. That’s exactly what Alice Paul did here in the United States with the suffrage movement. Look at the impact she made!
I love that in Alice Paul’s time, the “New Woman” was introduced for the first time: a well-educated and independent woman. This is truly an idea that more women should embrace and cling to if we hope to draw nearer to equality anytime soon. These are ideals we should be teaching our children. Why not cause a storm? Why not educate yourself on current events to become a more socially-aware, productive citizen? When did Americans stop caring about what happens around them?
The world is changing, and it shouldn’t be as big of a surprise as it is. History repeats itself. I think that if we don’t want to see more of “Alice Paul-type” measures taken, more citizens need to do their civic duty. Women should be voting in larger numbers. People in favor of certain legislation need to make their case as to how it would benefit people. It seems that people now more than ever can sit in front of their television watching the news and complain about how things are run, yet they never seem to make anything out of it, and they never work to make a change. Apparently it’s easier to be a critic. I think that the women in the suffrage movement knew exactly how to win their war, although it did take a long time. We need to look back at history and learn things from it, so we don’t continue to make similar mistakes, as with the print journalism industry. If we don’t learn from mistakes we’ve made before (such as automatically posting news for free on the web) we are going to continue to make unintelligent mistakes and flush an entire industry down the drain.