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Iron Jawed Angels

This film about the suffragist movement of the early 20th century is dramatic, poignant and even inspirational in its depiction of the brave women who challenged prevailing wisdom and fought for what became the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Early feminists Alice Paul (Swank) and Lucy Burns (O’Connor) try to shoehorn their brand of feminism, more confrontational and strident, into the more established and gentile National American Women’s Suffrage Association, which traces its leadership back to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

However, the leadership has grown complacent and intolerant of new ideas and methods. Therefore, the young women who, for all their fire brandishing, are still distracted by pretty hats, forge ahead, protesting on the steps of the White House so President Wilson will be forced to acknowledge their demands. Iron Jawed Angels features a fine cast in a project that is obviously close to their hearts. Swank makes Alice Paul into a real, live, fallible figure that, nevertheless, is able to behave heroically when it is required.

O’Connor is appealing as Lucy Burns, Alice’s best friend and, at least according to this version of history, the person who provides Paul with strength when it seems as if she has none left. Huston is imperious as the head of an established organization that has lost its fire and zeal and resists the voices of its younger sisters. And Dempsey is charming as the newspaperman who tries to get under Alice’s skin. It must be noted that Iron Jawed Angels is a lovely tribute to the women who fought for and won the vote. The movie begins in 1912 when Alice Paul (Swank) and Lucy Burns (O’Connor) come to Washington, D.

C. , to organize a parade in support of a constitutional amendment to gain voting rights for women. Their campaign is met with resistance from all fronts–from the power elite to the average person on the street–no one wants these women to have a say in their government. They were jailed along with other members of the resistance movement. Once in jail, the women go on a hunger strike. Their resistance to being force-fed leads to their nickname, the Iron Jawed Angels, and produces the second best line of the movie “With women courage is often mistaken for insanity.

” It seems shoving tubes down the throats of white women to stuff raw eggs in their bellies generates a lot of bad press. The momentum from their actions coupled with the long work of their more conservative allies and suffragists predecessors, finally leads to women gaining the vote in 1920. American women have come a long way, thanks to the activities of activists such as Alice Paul, who risked her life to help women get the right to vote. “Iron Jawed Angels” thus succinctly tells the true story of this early 20th-century pioneer of the women’s suffrage movement.

In America of today, the story has changed. Women now have suffrage rights like their male counterpart. To crown it all, a woman is even a presidential candidate for the next presidential election in the country. So therefore, Iron Jawed Angels is a bridge between periods-a period of suffrage rights infringement, and a period that marks the dawn of freedom for the female world. In essence, I believe the film did a great job at depicting the movement and was very factual. For a first time viewer or for someone who has does not have much knowledge on the subject, Iron Jawed Angels is a good start.

The information, which can be gained from Iron Jawed Angels, which could not be conveyed by a written source, would be the brutality and harshness suffragist women faced during the 1920s. A written source could also not convey the passion and enthusiasm the women suffragists had. The central message of the film Iron Jawed Angels is that if one keeps on trying, eventually they will make some progress. The persistence of the women suffragists shows that even if all odds are against someone, they can still make a difference.

The film really shows the younger generation what their mothers went through in order to gain recognition. It is a must-watch film for the womenfolk. It interesting depicts the dedication, tenacity, relentless and committed spirit of the dogged fighters for suffrage rights. The disturbing violence geared towards the women suffragists also shows the discontent of American men towards the movement. Although one might call their movement a feminist one, the right of suffrage they doggedly fought for is a fundamental human right.

If not for the success of this suffrage movement in the 20s, women will not have the right to contest for various political positions across the States. In conclusion, the film, `Iron Jawed Angels” (an appellation assigned the female protesters by an outraged senator) is therefore recommended as a study tool because it accurately portrays the women’s suffrage movement in the 1920s. It also shows the suffering and persecution the women fought through to gain suffrage. If it were not for the 1920s suffrage movement, women might have never gained the right to vote.

The film further shows the women movements in a new light, where real woman with husbands, children, and families, risked their entire lives for women to be able to vote. Their courage and determination was mistaken for insanity and they were attacked on both mental and physical levels because the government did not favor equal rights at the time.

REFERENCES

• Roberson, A. N. (Executive Producer). (2004, Mar. 1). Off Our Backs [Television broadcast]. Iron Jawed Angels.

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