The way we learn about women’s suffrage, the right for women to vote, in history classes can often seem cut and dry: Women didn’t have the right to vote, so they picketed and wrote letters and spoke to government officials until the people in charge said, “You know what? They’re right.”
“Iron Jawed Angels”–and any truth-based dramatization of history–paints a different story. It’s a 2004 HBO movie about Alice Paul, a suffragette, who was instrumental in the passing of the 19th Amendment, 39 words that make it illegal to deny a person the right to vote based on sex:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The film depicts the conversation around the amendment as anything but cut-and-dry, showing the lengths these women will go to for equality–from allowing themselves to be spat on to illegal imprisonment and abuse.
The Campus Activities Board screened “Iron Jawed Angels” this afternoon as part of Women’s History Month, and I pulled some particularly powerful quotes from the movie to share. If you missed the movie and would like to see it, it’s currently on YouTube, xfinity stream, and Netflix.
In response to “Tell me about the cause” of women’s right to vote:
“You asked me to explain myself. I just wonder what needs to be explained. Let me be very clear. Look into your own heart. I swear to you, mine’s no different. You want a place in the trades and professions where you can earn your bread? So do I. You want some means of self expression? Some way of satisfying your own personal ambitions? So do I. You want a voice in the government in which you live? So do I. What is there to explain? “
In questioning the sanity of someone undergoing a hunger strike:
“‘Give me liberty or give me death.’ Patrick Henry, an American hero.”
“Apples and oranges.”
“In oranges and women, courage is often mistaken for insanity.”
“When you’re alone, you can make any choice you want. But when someone loves you, you lose that right. I won’t give anything away ’til we have it all. I can’t.”
“I really don’t follow politics, Ms. Burns. I haven’t the head for it.
“We’re citizens or we’re chattle. You don’t really need a degree from Harvard to figure that out.”
The Campus Activities Board’s next event is from 5 to 7 p.m. March 21 in the Student Life Center gym. At Meditation & Yoga, you’ll relax with a yoga session and learn about the benefits and history of meditation.