14_Iron_Jawed_Angels

The 2004 American drama film focuses on the American women’s suffrage movement during the 1910s. It follows the political activists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns as they use peaceful and effective strategies, tactics, and dialogues to revolutionize the American feminist movement to grant women the right to vote.

The film begins as Alice Paul and Lucy Burns return from England, where they participated in the women’s suffrage movement. Once the pair becomes more active within the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), they begin to understand that their ideas were much too forceful for the established activists. The pair leave NAWSA and found the National Women’s Party (NWP), a better way to fight for women’s rights.

Over time, problems occur as NAWSA leaders criticize NWP tactics, such as protesting against a wartime President Woodrow Wilson and picketing outside the White House. Male supremacists famously (and infamously) label the women “iron-jawed angels.” Relations between the American government and the NWP protesters also intensify, as many women are arrested for their actions, though the official charge is “obstructing traffic.”

The women are sent to the workhouse for 60-day terms where they suffer under unsanitary and inhumane conditions. During this time, Paul and other women undertake a hunger strike, during which paid guards force-feed them milk and raw eggs. News of their treatment leaks to the media through the husband of one of the imprisoned women, a U.S.Senator, who has been able to lobby for a visit (the suffragists are otherwise unable to see visitors or lawyers) by putting a letter in his shirt. Pressure is put on President Wilson as the NAWSA seizes the opportunity to try for the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Paul, Burns and all of the other women were all pardoned by President Wilson.