Kage Baker was a staunch, dedicated and – above all – demonstrative supporter of women’s suffrage. She never missed an election; and, being as she was in the first batch of 18-year-olds in California to get the vote, that was an awful lot of elections. She liked to vote early in the day, on the way to work if possible; and then she wore her “I VOTED” sticker on the shoulder of her blouse all day, like a cloak pin.
She had an enormous affection and regard for the suffragettes. Those were tough ladies, rising from a status as nonentities to claim their civic rights alongside men. Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Bloomer and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were among her favourites – probably because they all approached the topic as a human right and not just a women’s right.
It was all sort of amazing, since Kage was one of the least public people ever. She didn’t like to advertise her political or religious views. She didn’t like people knowing what she thought – unless she’d had time to polish and refine those thoughts, and then she put them out in a story. It’s one of the reasons she was a writer. It let her present her inmost thoughts in a completed, elegant form, rather than (as she succinctly described it) “blurting them out like you’re throwing up.”
Of course, Kage didn’t shout out her views: just what she had done about them. She voted. She detested political arguments and refused to participate (unless someone wanted to re-examine the relative merits of Stephen vs Matilda for the British throne … ); when pressed for her party affiliation, she would usually reply, “Tory”. And she only went that far because Jack Aubrey, her second-favourite fictional seaman, was one.
Aside from that one conversational whimsey, though, Kage was a serious voter. She studied the issues. She marked her ballot beforehand and brought it with her. She changed her registration from Green when Ralph Nader became a monkey wrench in the Presidential election; she went Independent. She changed from Independent in order to vote in primaries. Now that California has open primaries, she would doubtless have either returned to Indie status, or actually registered as a Tory – which is not, as several elderly registrars have argued with me, actually illegal … just pointless, unless your state goes to open primaries.
Today was a red letter day on Kage’s calendar. It is the anniversary of American women attaining the right to vote. In fact, is is the 92nd birthday: which means our personal Lady Liberty, oh my enfranchised sisters, is now a veritable wise old woman and is approaching the threshold of immortality.
At least, let us hope so. Our right to vote, Ladies, deserves to go well beyond the standard two score and ten, and on into the Noachin ages. We must all do all we can to ensure that it does, and that our patroness avatar of Athena Ergane – that fierce voting Lady – is never without Her devotees and wreathes of approbation.
And the best thing we can do is vote. Regardless of your affiliation, get out there and vote. Keep this right alive and with all her necessary circulation; don’t let her heart slow, her bones grow frail. Our daughters and a thousand, thousand daughers-yet-to-be depend on us to keep her alive for them. And for their brothers, too.
In the meantime, remember Susan and Amelia and Liz. They, and all their own sisters, suffered and fought and sometimes outright died, Dear Readers, in order that you should not only be free but be able to do something with that freedom. So don’t you dare turn off your brains and shirk your duty! If you can’t bring yourself to vote for any of the collection of clowns now strutting on the public stage, then get out there and vote against something!
God She knows, there is a lot that needs stopping these days. Don’t just stand there wringing your hands and screaming as the giant ape approaches, Ladies. Stand up and mark him out with a firm swipe of your Sharpie pen on the ballot. Vote!