On July 9, 1978, a Women’s Suffrage banner that had rarely been seen outside of a museum since the 1920’s, once again saw the light day. Old and venerable, the purple and gold colors of the National Women’s Party moved down the Capital Mall as over 100,000 of us stepped into herstory.
Dressed all in white-the suffragist colors-we marched to peaceably ask for an extension on the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
The Mall was filled to capacity. Surely the numbers were enormous. There were those who had rallied there the day Martin Luther King had declared “I Have a Dream.” These witnesses were sure that this day would equal that one, but the Park Officials said otherwise.
I accompanied Donna, founder of “The Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press,” and Dana Densmore, co-founder of the early (pre-MS Magazine) journal “No More Fun and Games.” At dusk we got word over PBS radio that it was a “small march.” The Park’s official counters announced it was hardly 80,000, if that. Stoic as always, Donna sighed, “They couldn’t even give us that.”
When night fell, some of us met up at a Mexican restaurant where some of the other National Women’s Party marchers drifted in. We had rallied so many, but our numbers, like falsified ballots, were swept aside. We ate and laughed and smiled and even listened to a wonderful group of singers who sang requests. We put on a brave face, but we were hurt. Our numbers went unreported. We worried that we had failed.
The dawn broke the following morning, Donna and Dana hovered over (at the time) the horribly expensive, $15,000, word processing/type-setting machine. Dana had been asked to write an article on communications for MS Magazine. Spurred by the day’s events, the article appeared literally over night.
The opening line of the article? “If we [33 million concerned women] contributed a dime each, we could create a network system that could serve us all.”
What had Donna and Dana seen?
Well, it was this. We had to rely on each other to get the message out – not reporters. Wasn’t it the old joke, Donna said, “How do you get the word out? Telegraph; telephone; tell a woman.”
Donna, although she never had heard the word, understood the word BLOG.
She was calling for, almost 30 years ago, for women to blog-not relying on the captains of industry who owned media to tell women what they believed. Women ought to speak for themselves.
Donna’s vision was that one day women could show their numbers, not through the numbers of bodies on the Mall, but by the content of their voices on the blogosphere. She had a dream that women’s voices would not be beholding to what the media said was “ok.”
Today there is a conference called Blogher. Blogs. Women. Our time has come.
“Never have so many owed so much to each other.”