For Americans, the right to vote is so taken for granted that it’s hard to believe it was unavailable to the country’s women until 1920, and not until after quite a fight.
The film excels at depicting the real sacrifices of the women involved, especially in the harrowing prison scenes, as well as in showing the development of nonviolent protest techniques that were later used successfully in other political movements. Iron Jawed Angels vibrantly brings to life a neglected period of America’s civil rights struggle without making it seem like a history lesson.
The HBO original movie Iron Jawed Angels was inspired by a pivotal chapter in American history. Hilary Swank plays Alice Paul, an American feminist who risked her life to fight for women’s citizenship and the right to vote. She founded the separatist National Woman’s Party and wrote the first equal rights amendment to be presented before Congress. Together with social reformer Lucy Burns, Paul struggled against conservative forces in order to pass the 19th amendment to the Constitution of the United States. One of their first actions was a parade on President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration day. The suffragettes also encountered opposition from the old guard of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, Carrie Chapman Catt. The activists get arrested and go on a well-publicized hunger strike, where their refusal to eat earns them the title of “the iron-jawed angels.”
The film provides a stark reminder that women’s right to vote is the result of a hard-fought battle as we approach national elections November 2.
The Movies That Matter Series is free and open to the public. The series is held on the third Tuesday of each month at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 10341 Hwy. 42, Ephraim. Beginning in November the series will begin at 4:30 pm for the winter season.