Iron Jawed Angels starts off focusing on two well-to-do women named Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. After participating in the women’s suffrage movement in England as suffragettes, the two ladies decided to spread this ideal in America. At the time, there was already a National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), but the association did not go to the lengths of suffrage that they were looking for. Instead, the National Women’s Party was created.
With Paul and Burns leading this party, NWP was able to progress and share their ideas in society. They were able to work as role models and instill courage in other women to stand up for what they deserve under the constitution. Even when men yelled at them or attacked them, they kept strong.
Since Wilson did not originally give in to what they wanted, the women started to protest right in front of the White House and even had signs quoting the hypocrisy of President Wilson. This act in itself showed the valiant and brave qualities of these women; it made a statement: they will not back down without a fight. So even when Wilson declared war and became a war president, the women still continued to fight for their suffrage. However, with their relentless cause came unfair consequences as they were arrested and sent to a workhouse under the weak reason of “obstructing traffic.” Paul eventually, too, was arrested and decided to have a hunger strike like how people did back in her country.
To avoid public outrage after hearing of her death, the government ensured to feed her through tubes by force. Even still, the conditions that Paul and these women had to go through were spread throughout the media due to a note passed on to the U.S. Senator from his wife, who was held in the workhouse as well, which eventually leads to Wilson finally passing the nineteenth amendment to grant the suffrage of women.
In my opinion, I absolutely loved the movie. It was very poignant and interesting, which had my eyes glued to the screen at all times. When Paul was being tortured and force-fed- the general brutality of it all- literally brought tears in my eyes. Plus, the acting was very good- the fact that the women talked in a modern accent and even sometimes joked around, made it easier for young women to connect to them- they were just like us; just young women wanting to exercise their rights.
This movie not only helped me learn more about the details of the women’s rights movement in America, but it also had me sympathize with the women. It made me think about how the people we merely read about in history books were dedicated for their causes and even went to the lengths of choosing between life and death. Their passion and knowledge for what they believe in is outstanding and I believe that U.S. History students should give more interest and credit to them than they do today.
Courtney from Study Moose
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