An Open Letter From a Mother to Her Daughter Now at College, and Any of Her Friends Who Happen to Be Standing Around


I gather this was first posted on Facebook. It has been making some rounds. If you read it, you can see why. Thanks to my colleague Dennis McCarty for the pointer…

An open letter to my daughter and her friends in college.

Madeleine and Holly and Sarah and any other young woman who happens to be standing around:

Get yourselves registered to vote and then go do so. Did I ask if you felt informed enough? No, I didn’t. Did I tell you that you should vote only if you are certain your vote really counted? No, I don’t believe I did. Therefore, let me now tell you why you should do this.

There are women who have gone before you, and not very long ago who endured public shaming and humiliation, shunning by their families and communities, the stink and fear of jail, threats and acts of violence in order to wrest your right to vote from hands that wished to continue to own women and do with them as they pleased. You owe them, not only for the right to vote, but the right to run for and hold public office, the right to expect to be safe in your body and your mind, the right to primary, secondary and higher education. You are in college right now and no one even thinks to comment on that fact you are there only because of what these women were willing to endure when they wouldn’t just sit down and shut up like good and proper little ladies. You are allowed to drive, to enter a restaurant unaccompanied by a man, decide when and with whom you will have children. You are free to speak your mind in public places, you are presumed to be equal under the law, you can buy, sell and own property. You have the right expect that you will not be treated as a sexual toy at work, you can occupy the highest offices in business, finance, medicine and law if that is where you want to go.

If for no other reason than to stand in that voting booth and, by casting your vote, express your gratitude to the women who have made this possible for you, register and vote. You owe them that.

As you gain some life experience and go forth into the world, make the time to become acquainted with the issues and continue to vote to your mind and your conscience. Charge on, girls.

Your Mama (and your friend’s mama)

Laura Pennock

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  • http://yazrooney.wordpress.com Yaz Rooney

    OMG, this is brilliant.

  • Mary Ann

    I’m very lucky that my freshman-college daughter already is registered, and has already applied for her absentee ballots. The first is for the primary election for general assembly candidates (local election) which will be held in a couple of weeks, and the second is for November.
    She is very well aware of the foremothers who have gone before us. She’s even distantly related to Lucretia Mott, an early colleague of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. We’ve been to the homes (museums now) of both Stanton and Anthony, and Dear Daughter learned early on how long the struggle was to get the right of women to elective franchise recognized.
    As soon as her earliest friends turned 18, she kept asking them if they’d registered to vote yet. Yeah, we’re activists. We wouldn’t want to let our ancestors down.


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