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Film: Iron Jawed Angels
"We're legitimate citizens. We're taxed without representation. We're not allowed to serve on juries so we're not tried by our peers. It's unconscionable, not to mention unconstitutional. We don't make the laws but we have to obey them like children."
— Alice Paul, Iron Jawed Angels
Suffrage has never been so Sexy
You know the Women's Suffrage Movement? Yeah, that one. Remember when they got the vote? Well, I think we can all agree that was an important moment in American History? Yeah, it's great, from Susan B. Anthony to Alice Paul, such perseverance, such power of spirit, such... No wait don't go! What if I made it sexy
?!BOOM! Iron Jawed Angels!
Iron Jawed Angels is a 2004 movie detailing the tail end of the American campaign for Women's Suffrage. Most of the events in the movie actually happened, the story is compelling, the acting is good, the writing is tight... but, well, it gets kinda weird at times.
Maybe it's weird in order to make the movie more accessible to a younger generation
, maybe it's just the Hollywood machine getting its dirty hands all over
another well-intentioned historical drama, but what with the experimental camera work, the especially
forced romantic subplot
and the anachronistic slang and hip-hop soundtrack watching this movie can feel kinda surreal. Not bad, just kinda surreal.
This movie provides examples of:
- The Ace: Alice is often shown to turn people to her side with just a well-chosen sentence, like: "A vote is a fire escape."
- Actual Pacifist: The women in the film, and most of them in real life. The most violent act done is a woman throws a shoe at a window.
- Adult Fear: Your husband can take your children away from you, and there's nothing you can do about it because you're a woman and he has law on his side.
- The Atoner: The congressman after reading his wife's journal.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Lucy gets a bruised eye, some girls are portrayed with cuts on their face after the parade, and they all show the effects of the hunger strike.
- Career Versus Man: A man is introduced simply so he can be rejected as justification for this.
- Deadpan Snarker: Alice. "[Helen Keller] is blind and deaf! If she can find the hotel, so can you."
- The Ditz: The congressman's wife plays herself off as such.
- Force Feeding: Happens to Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and a few other suffragists during their prison hunger strike.
- Gender Traitor: Alice states that women who refuse to fight for their rights are this.
- Godwin's Law: Nominally averted, since Adolf Hitler is still a no-name Corporal on the Western Front. However, one of the angry sailors at a protest yells something to the effect of "MAYBE YOU'D RATHER GO TO GERMANY?!"
- Know Whento Fold Em: Alice is told she has to know when to do this. She ignores them.
- Line in the Sand: Knowing anyone who joins the picket line in front of the White House after war has been declared will be imprisoned, Alice asks for volunteers and stresses that this is a choice.
- Long Hair Is Feminine: Played with. Lucy and Alice have very long hair, but rarely wear their hair down. Instead, the hair is bundled so high up that it comes across as a bob. Under a hat.
- Make an Example of Them: It is implied that if they get their hands on Alice, they will try for the maximum sentence they can, to make an example of her. The first words out of the mouth of the arresting officers, the first arrest scene, is "Alice Paul?"
- Male Gaze: Ultimately averted. While the film does feature nude women, a female masturbation scene, and two girls kissing, all of them are treated fairly nonchalantly, and are more implicit than explicit. (The nude women are seen from the back only, and the two girls kissing are barely on the screen.)
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: While she was sympathetic to the NWP the whole time, it's implied that the congressman's wife's mistreatment is what made her decide to join them fully and openly.
- Miscarriageof Justice: The women are sent to a workhouse for 'obstructing traffic.'
- Nerves of Steel: All the women. Especially those who stayed around after they started getting arrested, knowing what would happen next.
- Not Afraid to Die: The movie makes distinction between suicidal ideation and this, when they try to get Alice committed for her hunger strike.
- Ojou Ringlets: Seen during one of the 'preparatory montages' as a potential hairstyle choice for one of the girls, before they go to a high class event.
- Patriotic Fervor: Things only get worse for the women when WWI starts.
- Positive Discrimination: Alice rejects this as well, saying that they can't accept the perks of being a female and reject the detriments.
- Truth in Television: Though it does invent a few characters, film is pretty accurate historically; there really was, for an example, a senator who voted "yes" at the last second because of a note from his mother. Entire scenes were copied from the history books, like the 'night of terror' where they were beaten, refused medical treatment, and Lucy was handcuffed standing up. At least one of the other women did stand in her position.
- Trope Trigger: Every time Alice and Lucy 'flip for it' Alice loses.
- Voiceofthe Resistance: Alice's description of her being force fed was implied to be the only communication they managed to get out while imprisoned. In reality, Lucy managed to get a network going to keep many letters going out, until they caught onto it and sent her off to a different jail.
- We Win Because You Didn't: Attempted and failed by the National Women's Party. They tried to boycot Wilson and any democratic congressman who didn't support them. They fail.
- Women Are Delicate: Discussed very often, most notably with: "In oranges and women, courage is often mistaken for hysteria."