Iron Jawed Angels: Challenging Societal Norms
Alice Paul and Lucy Burns are not just characters in Iron Jawed Angels; they were real people who fought against all odds to give women in the United States the opportunity to have their voices heard through the right to vote and run for office. The movie focuses on the changing role of women in American society during the 1920’s. All the women who took part in the suffrage movement challenged established societal norms. From little things like learning to drive and smoking, to larger roles such as not being a housewife and working to earn a living independently from a husband, these women changed how society viewed their gender. Women sacrificed their health, marriages, and the little freedom that they had to fight for what they knew was right.
The suffragettes objected to how ...view middle of the document...
They started wearing dresses that had hemlines at the ankle and wore makeup. When Doris went out trying to gain support for the National Women’s Party, she was smoking and checking out the attractive males on the street. Women had become more confident in themselves. Critics, such as Carrie Chapman Catt of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, thought that women shouldn’t be parading themselves around. NAWSA thought that the radical techniques of the NWP were unnecessary, but in the end the NWP got the results they wanted, a constitutional amendment.
Women during this time were expected to get married and raise a family. Throughout her fight for equal rights, Alice Paul consciously chose to not get involved with Ben Weissman, a political cartoonist she met at an art gallery while soliciting for support, because she wanted to stay focused on her career. It was very unusual in society for a woman to choose her career over being a mother and raising a family, which is what a husband was for. Alice was completely devoted to the suffrage cause. Emily Leighton was another woman who defied societal norms to help the suffrage cause. Her husband was Senator Leighton, who was against suffrage. After he found out that his wife had made donations to the NWP, he took away her children and threatened to file divorce. This only fueled Emily’s passion to get equal rights. She temporarily gave up her family to fight for her vote, so in the future she could have a fighting chance for her children.
Iron Jawed Angels illustrates instances where women were left feeling powerless, so they band together to combat the forces that treated them so unfairly. Through their journey the women of the NWP had to change how society viewed them as a gender, and overcome established societal norms. Some of them suffered the consequences of trying to change a countries habit, but in the end they were triumphant.