My Mother is the Woman Who Doesn’t Want the Right to Vote

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Brent P.

Editorial note: The following is reprinted with permission from Elliot Grace Harvey’s blog. It was originally published on October 14, 2016.

Edited by Wende Benner, HA Editorial Staff

I grew up listening to my mom tell me that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

Her attitude almost hinted at annoyance, this was a responsibility she didn’t need, she would vote the same as her husband anyway.

I was never compelled to agree that women shouldn’t vote. I was, however, obligated to vote, or not vote, as my parents did. Many families with the same ideologies as my parents saw their children as a political strategy.

These controlling patriarchs are cloning their own vote through their wives and children.

Anti-women’s vote is partially a numbers tactic. As evidenced by recent polls, women voters have the power to sway an election a great deal. If you remove every woman’s right to vote, the loss of submissive women’s votes are outweighed by restored male control.

When we talk about a woman who doesn’t want to vote, it’s important to note that this duplication of votes through obedient women is not the first choice of these families. Their thought process can be found rooted in a basic fear, fear of what they believe is inevitable personal misfortune, or “divine judgement” as they might refer to it.

Simply put, bad things will happen to everyone if women as a whole aren’t serving under men.

Many fundamentalists believe their principals for life are a cosmic cheat code for getting the things that they want. And when things go wrong anyway? Those rules are there to determine whether or not it was your fault.

Women across the country who vote their own minds are held responsible by parents like mine for keeping their chosen leaders from being elected. Subsequently, they believe these women are bringing down inescapable hardship on all of us, which they think will come from having more equality-minded leaders, among other things.

I now know that I want to vote differently from my parents, but this wasn’t always the case. Something that comes with the submissive-woman rhetoric, is a great deal of conditioning. Not only did I not have the freedom to vote for President Obama, I didn’t know that I wanted to. I suspect that this is also the case for many fundamentalist wives and adult children.

It is much easier to embrace the rules of those that house and clothe you, than to challenge them and risk abandonment.

And so my mother and many other women hold on to fighting for the loss of their rights. Maybe she doesn’t want the responsibility. Maybe she doesn’t want the option of being able to change the course of her own life and that of her children’s lives. Maybe she can’t even think about the possibility, because that would mean she had chosen to remain in a life where she had no choice.

3 comments

  • Loura Shares A Story

    I had been flabbergasted by the number of women recently who stated they would like the 19th amendment repealed. I appreciate your post. It sheds human light on the subject. Thank you for sharing.

  • Admin Note: Some comments in this thread have been deleted for being dismissive towards survivors’ experiences, and for being triggering.

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  • There are peculiar harms done particularly to women within the realm of belief. I am most aware of the IFB styles of harm but sense in my reading that similar extremes cause much suffering in extreme practices of Islamic faith too.
    We are brought into a world where we begin in a one-room reality, no windows at all to any other world but this one-room of our family life. What our parents live, we live, including their extremist ways. As a child, we endure what must be endured. I was born deserving wrath and knew it from a very young age. It was not until many years on that I was able to even ask honest questions or allow myself to wonder things like, Why would a loving God allow his only son to be tortured and killed? Why would he not simply care for him and protect him from the bad guys? Why are women not allowed so much of what is allowed to men? What’s all that about?
    These are simplistic, rudimentary questions that a free child is able to think on but we were not able to even consider questions like this… Evangelical faith of the type practiced where I grew up (Canada/USA) is designed to harm people, to take away their autonomy, to make them rely on masters and authorities. It does not offer support and love towards human independence but the opposite, dependency and roles of subservience. Evangelical life is a form of indentured servitude. It hurts women and children first and in its patriarchal myopia, keeps men dumbed-down to the harm they do by ‘obeying’ God.
    The child advocate called Alice Miller once asked me, When does an individual become responsible for the choices they make, at what stage or age?
    Every person faces this decision, to take responsibility for themselves as they are or to abdicate and comply with external controls. My mom abdicated, was a ‘good Christian wife/mother’ (sic) and always carried an edge of bitterness in her for having done so. She knew so much of it was hogwash but she grew up in a preacher’s family and married a preacher herself. Of her progeny, only a few of us got away.

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