Sunday was pretty boring. I went to work. Then I came home and talked to my boss on the phone for half an hour. So, let’s talk about movies instead.
A majority of what Hollywood puts out is crap. A majority of what’s on TV is crap. But every now and then, certain forces conspire to tell a story that should have already been known by everybody in America. Recently, I watched the HBO movie, Iron Jawed Angels. Anjelica Houston won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of suffragist Carrie Catt in this 2004 film. It stars Hilary Swank as Alice Paul, an unwavering force behind the women’s suffrage movement in the early 20th century.
According to the film, Paul and her friend Lucy Burns founded the National Women’s Party to lobby congress directly for a constitutional amendment allowing women the vote. When they continued to picket the White House after the US declared war against Germany in World War I, the women were arrested, sentenced to the workhouse, and beaten. Through these women’s relentless determination, I now have the right to vote, something that I often take for granted but will now covet with great pride.
I didn’t love everything about this film. I’m usually a bit put off by period films that incorporate modern music. It doesn’t work for me. It makes me feel disjointed. There’s also a bathtub scene that’s a bit silly, in my opinion. But regardless of stylistic choices that didn’t suit my taste, I still think this is a film that everyone should see. I think it’s a tragedy that Alice Paul isn’t a celebrated historical figure along the lines of Martin Luther King Jr. The courage and determination that she and her fellow suffragists displayed was remarkable. I hate to think that it is only because they are women that they are not more widely known.
Start with this film, then go to your library and read up on the women’s suffrage movement. Then make sure that you vote in the upcoming election because that is a right of all citizens, regardless of sex, thanks to women like Alice Paul, who risked their lives so that we could have a voice in our government.