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Iron Jawed Angels, a movie that tells a story about a time in the 1900’s where Suffragists were fighting for an amendment to pass, that allowed any sex the right to vote. During the movie, I recognized many key terms taught in class like oppression, racism, homophobia, and Patriarchy. This movie is a true example of oppression. I say this because women have been treated unfairly by the government for some time. When people watch this movie they meet a lot of interesting characters like Alice Paul, a college graduate and suffragist who became the leading women in protesting women’s right to vote. Lucy Burns, another college graduate who was Alice’s right hand women in the protest for the right of women to vote. Mable Vernon, a college graduate and a friend of Alice’s who had come to help promote women’s rights. Inez Milholland, a lawyer who became the lady on the white horse. Senator Leighton, one of many senators who did not support women’s right to vote. Emily Leighton, is Senator Leighton’s wife. When Senator Leighton takes away her children, this is an example of Patriarchy because the senator has all of the power. According to the article, “Declaration of Sentiments (1848)” states, “He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns”. The reason Emily’s children were taken was because she giving her time and earned money to the movement.
The fight for women rights started with the organization called The National American Women Suffrage Association or NAWSA. Anna Howard Slaw, the previous president of The National American Women Suffrage Association. Carrie Catts, later became the president of The National American Women Suffrage Association and was very close with the president. Anna Howard Slaw, Carrie Catts, Lucy Burns, And Alice Paul all met together and talked about the possibility of an amendment. In “Iron Jawed Angels” Carrie Catts states, “Dr. Shaw and I worked side by side with Susan and Elisabeth Stanton while you were still in diapers Ms. Paul”. Susan B. Anthony was another woman who supported women’s suffrage. Alice Paul took over the committee in Washington. The first thing Alice did with the committee is hold a parade. The men’s remarks at the parade is an example of racism and homophobic because they were calling women derogatory terms. In Iron Jawed Angels, men state “Hey, you he-she! Get off the streets and go home, you hussies”. After Alice and other suffragists were kicked out of the association, Alice started The National Women’s Party. The National Women’s Party was called Iron Jawed Angels by a senator who opposed the party.
A significant part of the film to me was when the women from The Women’s Party were arrested because they were protesting for women’s rights outside of the White House. The women were protesting during the war. Some of the key characters from the movement were arrested that day. Later that week more women including Alice Paul were arrested for the same thing. Susan B. Anthony was arrested after allegedly trying to vote. According to the article, “Sentencing Speech in the Case of United States vs. Susan B. Anthony (1873)” Susan B. Anthony states, “I am degraded from the status of a citizen to the subject; and not only myself individually, but all of my sex, are, by your honor’s verdict, doomed to political subjection under this, so-called, form of government”. Susan B. Anthony made a very good argument to the judge about her imprisonment. Alice Paul and all of her followers did not allow themselves representation. Alice and her followers were taken to jail. A part of the film that I found difficult to watch is Alice Paul’s treatment in the prison. I found this difficult because in my opinion women should not be forced to eat if they do not want to. Alice was protesting against the unlawful imprisonment. Alice was seen by a psychiatric doctor, trying to conclude if Alice was mentally unstable. Alice was force fed raw eggs, this was ordered by the warden because she was eating any of her food. Alice was dying.
A moving point in the film to me was when Senator Leighton visited his wife Emily in prison. I think the Senator finally realized why Emily was in the movement, she was there for her daughters. The Senator is handed a note from Emily that Alice wrote about her treatment in jail. When the Senator finished reading the note, he gives it to the press. The movie does not state this but it is implied. In “Iron Jawed Angel’s” Alice Paul states, “I was put in a straight jacket and taken to the psychopathic ward, I could not see my family or friends, council was denied me, I saw no other prisioners and heard nothing of them, I could see no papers, today I was force fed for the third time. I refused to open my mouth, my left nostril, throat and muscles of my neck are very sore, I vomit continuously during the process”. The events after are what led to all of the women released including Alice.
The most important moment in the film in my opinion, is when Mr. Burns approves the vote for the nineteenth amendment. This is only after all the other 35 states approved of the amendment first. The most memorable moment in the film in my opinion, is when Alice and Lucy are in Alice’s office and they get the phone call about the amendment passing in the congress. Alice’s smile is so big while she was on the phone and that made me so happy. This film made the subject of feminism a reality because all of these women worked together to promote a common goal. The movie mostly centers around first wave feminism because this movie was based in the 19th century and it focused on women’s right to vote. I think if someone said “you throw like a girl” or “you play like a girl”, I would say “I am happy I play like a girl and throw like a girl because in the long run we are no different”. This film allowed the students and I an inside view of a feminist movement and all of the troubles and accomplishments that could come out of it. This film did not change my mind about feminist movements because I think that they are needed.
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