If you have a passel of teenage girls headed to your house for a slumber party, perhaps go out on a limb as being the weird parent, and screen Iron Jawed Angels as an act of resistance to violence as usual in the coming of age stories of young women. After all, we’ve been subjected to Catniss in the Hunger Games, Beatrice in Divergent, and Lisbeth in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. If we don’t want our young girls growing up somewhere between anemic princesses and deadly assassins, perhaps we ought to show them the third option between fight and flight: nonviolent action for equality and justice.
Iron Jawed Angels is engaging and fairly historically accurate, aside from the fictionalized love interest. The film focuses on the American women’s suffrage movement during the 1910s, and follows women’s suffrage leaders Alice Paul and Lucy Burns as they use peaceful and effective nonviolent strategies, tactics, and dialogues to revolutionize the American feminist movement to grant women the right to vote. Hilary Swank plays Alice Paul, Juila Ormond portrays Inez Milholland, and Anjelica Houston takes on the inimitable Carrie Chapman Catt.
The film title comes from Massachusetts Representative Joseph Walsh, who in 1917 opposed the creation of a committee to deal with women’s suffrage. Walsh thought the creation of a committee would be yielding to “the nagging of iron-jawed angels” and referred to the Silent Sentinels as “bewildered, deluded creatures with short skirts and short hair.” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Jawed_Angels)
Try it out on your teenagers . . . it might change their life.
Trailer to Embed: