I wanted to write at least one post about the centennial of the women’s suffrage movement, since I live in central New York where many of the early political organizing conversations happened regarding it here. But then all of the intensity of 2020 happened and now it’s December. So, since I just attended this event this evening and the film is freshly available for the next little while, I’d like to shout-out the film “Without a Whisper” because it says most of what I want to say in order to complexify the usual narrative about women’s suffrage in the United States.
White women learned a lot from Haundenosaunee women about what freedom looked like, smelled like, tasted like, and felt like. As they took up their fight for suffrage in the mid-1800s, some of them went for “piece of the pie feminism” and singularly sought the vote at the expense of intersectional politics of race and class (e.g. Susan B. Anthony). Others, like Matilda Jocelyn Gage went for “radical feminism” that truly examined the root of patriarchy in society, how the Christian church was reinforcing subjugation, and how the colonial state was doing damage to the original peoples of the land and their life ways.
Tonight the filmmaker and two main characters, Mohawk Clan Mother Louise and Women’s Studies visionary Sally Roesch Wagner spoke about the film in connection with the amazing Ska-nonh Center.
Two quotes from tonight that stick with me are when Louise talked about the need to continue to tell the truth to upend the falsehood and false narratives that this country (and some of its activist movements such as the suffragette movement) is based upon. She also mentioned just how much support is available for any one leader within the Mohawk system (5 people to 1).
Furthermore, Sally so meaningfully shared her own self-examination by saying “the day you say ‘I’m not a racist’ all you’ve done is admit you’ve hit a wall. White people who are willing to grapple with just how deep white supremacy goes will be recovering racists until the day we die.”
The film is 27 minutes long. The award-winning filmmaker is Katsitsionni Fox (Akwesasne). Please check it out here: https://www.wmm.com/film/without-a-whisper/