Naked City

Running and Voting in Heels

In 1920, thanks to years of tireless organizing and gutsy rabble-rousing, the American woman's right to vote was finally recognized. Yet now, 84 years later, young American women seem to have lost the get-up-and-go of their plucky ancestors. Ana Rowland, head of the local chapter of online voter registration campaign Running in Heels, just doesn't get it. "People want to keep their heads in the sand; they don't want to deal with it," she supposes. "But it's like, you know what? You're an adult citizen; voting is the absolute minimum you can do."

And so she has made it her goal to woo the more reluctant gals into the voting booth, enticing women into her manicured grip through the unlikely pairing of voter registration and girly gimmicks such as cocktail parties or bikini waxes. And it's working. Having been in Austin only three months, Rowland has amassed an impressive recipient list for her weekly newsletter (Running in Heels, a decidedly Democrat-friendly group, has upward of 500 local online members) and developed a knack for drawing crowds almost immediately. Despite the somewhat limiting suggestion that attendees wear pink clothes and high heel shoes to all Running in Heels functions, 100 people showed up for the June 12 launch party at Momos, most of them having received a personal call from Rowland, whose enthusiasm is catching.

"With the election coming up, I'm feeling a real pressure to get out there," she said breathlessly into her cell phone as she sped between appointments. "But this isn't going to end in November; it's all about education. We've got to get into the high schools, start getting kids interested at an early age, get them excited!"

Next on the very full agenda is today's (Thursday) Code Pink Suffrage Day March, originating at noon in Wooldridge Square Park – where the Austin Women's Association for Suffrage held its rallies – and ending up on the steps of the Capitol. In addition to County Court-at-Law Judge Nancy Hohengarten and Charlotte Flynn of the Gray Panthers, Rowland hopes to find someone who was involved with the Texas suffrage movement to tell the crowd what it means to fight for something you believe in. So Rowland herself can then say to her girls, "These are the women who made all this possible. Why are you squandering this opportunity? Why are you silencing yourself?"

And, yes, it is requested that attendees wear pink to the march, and, if you dare, high heels. Learn more at www.womenagainstbush.org. By the way, Running in Heels' march is not to be confused with the anti-war women's movement CodePink, although members of that group will also be in attendance, and the Austin chapter of CodePink has a happening planned on the Capitol steps at the end of the march. Who knows? Somebody might just end up in the pen!

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Election 2004, Running in heels, Ana Rowland, Code Pink, women's suffrage, Wooldridge Square Park

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