Monday, November 25, 2013

Suffag* (for Suffrag*)

Sometimes a decimal really is the point; other times it looks like too much of a good thing. But when you're talking about women—demanding women, women who want the vote—it's probably best to refer to them in whole numbers and not as fractions. (If perhaps occasionally factions, such as "marchers" and "militants.") There's a sign I pass every day on my way to lunch that reads: "1,006.503 women in New York State ask you to vote for woman suffrage, Amendment No. 1, Nov. 6th." The sign is a picture of a banner used by the suffragists themselves (the actual banner resides in the New York State Museum) and the typo was made by the original designer, not the museum staff, though it still Rankins, I mean rankles. Over a million pissed-off, disenfranchised women are not to be sniffed at, regardless of their possibly casual disregard for misplaced commas and decimal points. Although not all New York women supported the suffrage issue, and not all men opposed it, this was a true battle of the sexes. The 19th amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, was ratified by New York State in 1919, forty-one years after Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton first drafted it. Our typo for today was found four times in OhioLINK, and 35 times in WorldCat.

(Picture of the picture of the 1917 women's suffrage banner, taken by myself, a "sister suffragette" in spirit.)

Carol Reid

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