Friday, August 28, 2009

Ladies (and gents), mark your calendars

Two days ago was a significant date. It marked the 89th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That means next Aug. 26 will be the 90th year since the right of women to vote was finally won. It is shocking to realize there are women alive today who were born when that right did not exist and that there are women and girls alive today who do not know what that victory cost.
I celebrated, if that is an appropriate word, by watching "Iron Jawed Angels" on DVD. The 2004 HBO film tells a little-known story of activists in the suffrage movement who were imprisoned for "obstructing traffic" when they stood silently in front of the White House with banners. It was a non-violent protest and didn't break any laws of the time, but they were sentenced to sixty days in the Occoquan Workhouse where one was hung by her wrists and some were brutally force-fed.
The film was directed by Katja von Garnier and stars Hilary Swank as activist Alice Paul, Frances O'Connor as her friend Lucy Burns, Julia Ormond as labor lawyer Inez Milholland and Angelica Huston as an older and more conservative suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt. Swank was nominated for SAG and Golden Globe awards, and Huston won a Golden Globe.
PEN USA honored the film's writers--Sally Robinson, Eugenia Bostwick Singer, Raymond Singer and Jennifer Friedes-- for best screenplay in teleplay category. The judges called it a "bold chance taken."
My friend, Lynette, recommended the movie to me and I'm passing that along to you and your daughters who are old enough to handle the rough parts. And I'd like to suggest that we all consider how we might celebrate next year. Some things need to be remembered.
For anyone interested, the League of Women Voters and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority are raising funds for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial near the site of the Occoquan Workhouse.


Donna said...

Hear, hear! A friend invited me to see the film locally and I couldn't go. I didn't know it was available on DVD. Thanks for letting us know. I will definitely rent it, and I will send this post to other women and girls.

Cynthia J. Iannaccone said...

We celebrated Women's Rights this year by visiting the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, New York.. and stood in the room where they handcuffed and arrested her for voting. It was really cool!

MG Higgins said...

This film sounds wonderful! Thanks for getting the word out.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Donna: Thanks for spreading the word. How cool is that?

Cynthia: Wow. If I'm ever in Rochester, I'll check that out. I get goosebumps sometimes in historic places, as if I can feel the past. Okay, maybe that's too much information. ;)

Melissa: It takes some poetic license, of course, as all films do, but much of it is true to history.

Sybel said...

Thanks for letting us know about this. When we read "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., I ask how many times has the Constitution been amended? (In 2081, there are 213 amendments.) Nobody ever guesses the right number. (I reassure them that I had to look it up.) But what's sobering is how hard students struggle to remember what the amendments did. Women's voting rights are rarely mentioned.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Sybel: I love hearing how your incorporate such invigorating material in your classes. Glad you liked the post.