Today is Women’s Equality Day. Yay Congress for doing the “right” thing!
That said, the celebratory image above is floating around Facebook today to mark this auspicious occasion. Take a look closely, and tell me what you see?
I’ll humor you… a cute, and well meaning image depicting the Congress granting women the right to vote in 1920. It features some really diverse women represented in the graphic. I think I even spy an Asian woman, and possibly what is meant to be interpreted as an Queer POC. Really, Super, Totally Awesome, right?!
“Not a woman here could vote no matter what age…”
Since “we were sufferin’ until suffrage…” Word to Schoolhouse Rock! However honorable that time was, for some women, the period in history that this image reflects — does not reflect the struggle for ALL women. All women were not granted the “right” to vote with that measure. Specifically, in some Southern states, African American women were unable to freely exercise for nearly 40 years later.
I salute Facebook for celebrating the spoils of that time, and honoring women in this way. This past July, another symbolic change for women was implemented, and celebrated, on the site. A 6+ month project to give a gendered icon a better hairdo, and make her visible stature equal with a man. While I had my own issues with tech having bigger diversity fish to fry — even by Facebook’s own admission, I commend the time and research involved in a project that shows the company is capable of providing quality visuals at the behest of symbolic gesture.
Because symbols DO matter, and having an fair and equitable image to look up to is needed for some. However, the depiction of women of color in an image representing women’s right to vote is an inclusion that erases this country’s fraught past. Ignoring that bit of CulturaliQ is problematic, especially considering the social climate that we currently inhabit. Historical inaccuracy is not a boon. Quite frankly it is offensive, and it does no favors to the people who it is meant to celebrate — or erase.