Aug 17, 2022

Modern Rebels

By: Dr. Frances Liddell
L

et me tell you a story about two women named Jody Shadduck-McNally and Jane DeDecker. On a summer’s day in 2018, these two women were sitting in a garden in Loveland, Colorado discussing the legacies of the suffragists. Jane is a renowned sculptor whose work had inspired Jody to discover more about the women’s suffrage movement. In their discussions, they realized the lack of female representation in public art and monuments more broadly, and with that, an idea was born. 

Fast forward months, and we find these two women knocking on Congressman Neguse's door, who agreed to introduce this as his first bill in his freshman year. This bill passed with complete support of the House and Senate, making it the fastest bill to pass through Congress for a monument project ever in history. On December 17th, 2020, the end of the centennial year of the 19th Amendment, the president signed it and then the real work began.

Women’s Suffrage 

The story of this project represents a pioneering idea, just as the women’s rights movement reflects a pioneering point in history. 

Suffrage is a term used to describe the right to vote and women’s suffrage has been a long and arduous process starting as early as the late 1700s with Mary Wollstonecraft’s book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). In the US, the suffrage movement rose during the outcry against slavery in the nineteenth century with the first women’s right convention documented in 1848. But women in the US would have to wait another 72 years before they gain the right to vote, with many more having to wait for the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.  

Those initial 72 years were no easy feat, with many women imprisoned or sentenced to hard labor. Many also went on hunger strikes and were force-fed through tubes in prisons. More still endured what became known as the ‘Night of Terror’ in the Occoquan Workhouse, where women were imprisoned, chained to their jail doors with their hands above their heads, and beaten. It was through these women’s fight, grit, and determination that helped to make suffrage a reality for many women across the country in 1920.

But the struggle of these women was only the start of a larger process that continues today. While countries such as New Zealand and Australia gave some women the vote as early as 1893 and 1902 respectively, others have had to wait many years to win their right to vote, with many women gaining the right to vote after liberation from colonial rule such as Gabon (1956), Uganda (1962), and Mozambique (1975). But still the fight for equality and universal rights continues for many people, no matter their gender identity.

Therefore, the catalyst of the women's suffrage movement remains an important symbol of human determination and passion, and one that we should continue to remember for future generations. 

Why NFTs? 

So why then turn to NFTs to support this monument project? While NFTs are not the traditional fundraising route for these kinds of projects, they do offer an interesting alternative that could support the broader mission of this project. 

Pioneering 

So one thing we realized when it comes to fundraising for this monument is we are going to have to fundraise in a modern way, and that means diversifying our sources of income for this project [..] But it also means thinking outside of the box. And that is where this NFT campaign came in.

— Anna Laymon, Women’s Suffrage National Monument Foundation 

Both the project and the suffrage movement emulate this idea of pioneering, where women push the boundaries of the norm to gain more equal representation. And as Anna Laymon, Executive Director of the foundation highlights, it was important to explore modern approaches to fundraising this project. NFTs are an obvious choice in this respect as they are also an emerging and groundbreaking tool that can model a new kind of fundraising approach. 

Storytelling 

It's going to spread the message about the history that you hold so dear and so close in a new way. And we wanted to be a part of that. We wanted to see if we could bring people into this project who might not normally come into something like this, people who right now we may say, women's suffrage, and they may look at me and be like, what is that?

— Anna Laymon, Women’s Suffrage National Monument Foundation 

Often NFTs are only categorized for their fundraising capabilities but here at Iconic Moments, we see NFTs as a medium for storytelling and a way to channel the message of a project. This is also an important part of this partnership with the Women's Suffrage National Monument Foundation who see education and awareness as an integral part of the process of building this monument. Therefore, with this campaign we will promote women’s suffrage as a movement to remember through which we want to reach audiences who might not be otherwise familiar with the story. 

Community 

That's what makes this so important, is that when you're a part of this, you're a part of a collective, you're a part of a movement.

— Anna Laymon, Women’s Suffrage National Monument Foundation 

NFTs are founded on two principles; investment and community. When someone buys an NFT during this campaign they are not only investing in the production of this monument, but also investing in a community of patrons founded on principles of equality. Our aim with this campaign is to create a collective of ‘modern rebels’ who emanate the suffrage movement and are inspired by the stories shared through this NFT project. 

Similarly, the project draws inspiration from this movement by providing a modern twist on the “Jailed for Freedom” pin. These pins were given to women who were arrested during the movement as a sign of gratitude. Today, this NFT project also uses them as a sign of gratitude, community membership, and solidarity to those who choose to invest in this project. 

Therefore, this project helps to bring life into this history moment, and supports in raising awareness and understanding into the ongoing struggles of the suffrage movement. 

And what I want this NFT campaign to do is to put the suffrage movement into the present and future, to make it in color.

— Anna Laymon, Women’s Suffrage National Monument Foundation