Her Story Café celebrates its favorite F-word in honor of freed suffragists 

  • Harris & Ewing and Library of Congress
Since last November, we as a country have frequently exercised our right to protest, with rallies and marches on national and local levels to address inequality or oppressive executive decisions. We have a long history of protest in America, and though protesters have been wrongfully imprisoned and faced new dangers in recent years, there have been other times in our history when it has been especially risky for people to speak their mind.

The suffragist movement, for all its faults, drew a great deal of attention to the unequal rights of (granted, white) women in the early 1900s. In 1917, members of the National Woman’s Party picketed the White House nearly daily, and many were punished severely for it. In what is now known as the “Night of Terror,” somewhere around 30 of these protesters were arrested, brutally beaten, force-fed and tortured for weeks. They were released on Nov. 27 and 28, 1917, exiting prison only to find more support, and a great wave of public outrage rising over how they had been treated.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of their release and the growth of the feminist movement over the last century, feminist food stop Her Story Café is hosting a party, hoping to mix fun with education for maximum impact.

According to owner Liz Rosenbaum, Her Story Café loves its F-words — feminism being the primary example. So their F Day party will celebrate a few of them: feminism, freedom, food, fun, friends and family. Touchstone Crystal (a jewelry company) will offer necklaces emblazoned with a bold “F” for sale, and Rosenbaum, a former history teacher, will give a presentation (handouts included) about feminist history, or “herstory” as she calls it.

But don’t go in expecting a straight lecture. Rosenbaum loves to make history interesting and interactive, and to tell the fascinating stories of women who were left out of textbooks. “Let’s just get together and be snarky and have fun,” she says. “No different than all the other ladies did 100 years ago. Let’s get together and start talking about equality.”

Feminism has never been perfect. Though we celebrate monumental moments in suffrage today, and though we’ll celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment in 2020, the matter stands that the right of women to vote in this case only pertained to white women.

“[The suffragists’] equality for women didn’t include everybody,” Rosenbaum says. “They still wanted to have equality, but not you. Well, there’s a problem with ‘equality but not you.’ It’s not equality.”

She says what encourages her about the modern feminist movement is that it’s inclusive of everyone, and Her Story’s celebration will honor not just suffrage but the evolution of feminism, and the people of all genders and races who have contributed to its culture of inclusivity.


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