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Alice Paul and Her Character in "Iron Jawed Angels"

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Alice Paul and Her Character in

Suffrage is an extremely important human right which has to be protected, and governments have to guarantee it to people. However, some regimes do everything to prevent people from voting and expressing their electoral preferences in order to stay in power or keep equality in the society. This is something that I, Alice Paul, have experienced in my life. In order to show my struggle for women’s rights, my story was presented in the film called Iron Jawed Angels, which describes events of women suffrage movement in America. The scenes of the film enable viewers to understand the local situation regarding suffrage as well as help spreading awareness about situation, and they also help me to convey the historical truth.

One of the important scenes in the film is the part focused on my “acquaintanceship” with Ben Weissman, an illustrator from the Washington Post. Ben showed interest toward me because of my passions and ideas, and he supported my interest in women’s rights. Weissman invites me to go to dinner with him, and, as a result, he also decides to assist me in my goal of helping women and spreading the word about suffrage. However, the most interesting fact about Weissman is that he was not real just like the time when I “met” him in the art gallery. His personality was created by the filmmakers in order to add some love parts and turn it in a movie, so my story would be more relevant and intriguing. In the movie, when I finally have dinner with Weissman, I am amazed when there is a little boy sitting with Weissman, who is his son. At that time, I realize that Weissman cares much for his son, and I am truly attracted to him because of that. Still, I decide that I have to dedicate all of my vitality and time to the woman's suffrage movement, and Weissman mostly disappears from the picture.

It is also important to describe the situation, which happened after the women`s peaceful parade in Washington. I felt extremely satisfed because of the received coverage, and the fact that the procession got front-page attention. I want to highlight this moment, because it accurately describes what has happened and gives viewers a sense of the real story (Ford 58). However, some dialogues in the scene are not factual, because it is difficult to keep track of the conversations which were taking place at that time.

The next episode is connected with protests in 1917 and my arrest. The movie shows how the protesters are holding banners with fragments of Woodrow Wilson’s dialogues. This was one of the leading tactics used by the NWP (National Women`s Party). We thought that, “Parroting Wilson’s words helped to highlight the government’s hypocrisy in supporting democracy abroad while denying its women citizens the right to vote at home” (“Doris Stevens”), and it was the reason we chose the strategy.

The film also highlighted the “Kaiser Wilson” banner. In the part where protesters expose this banner, I read Woodrow Wilson’s contemplations about equality showing that the government is twofaced and uses double standards when it has a war for democracy, but rejects women’s rights. The NWP were responsible for the burning of Wilson’s discourses. “In January 1919 the focus again returned to the White House with the burning of “watch fires of freedom” (Bittel & Toplin 1131). Returning to “Kaiser Wilson” banner, it was the foundation of the crowd violence against the activists, regularly with the police just doing nothing against it. Some of the aggressors were costumed servicemen. Banners were ruined, and demonstrators pulled along the walkway. The cruelty was huge; for instance, one woman had her shirt torn off. The headquarters of the National Woman’s Party, at the other side of the White House, were condemned. On one case, police simply watched while three seamen took a ladder, got to a terrace, and ripped down banners as well as the flag. As this passage in the film progresses, the staffs of the United States Navy initiated ripping down the banner, and mass violence started against the demonstrators. When the police actually stopped the picketers, the violence against protesters still continued. The cruelty was depicted historically correct (“Doris Stevens”). However, the film does not demonstrate the gunshot and does not mention the mariners using stepladders to rip down the other placards.

The final part of my story is connected with the hunger strike. In this episode, I was in the cell alone. The matron brought me some food but later understood that I was not eating the lunch that Occoquan workhouse was giving me. The matron said that she will report about this. I then tell the matron that I will not eat until the caged NWP strikers are given suitable nutrition and unpolluted lots. The film only somewhat represents the truth of the motives of the hunger strike. The central purpose was that we did not eat until our political position was approved. Hunger strikes turned into one of the most potent and clear instruments employed by the NWP to get community alertness of the terrible nature of rejection of privileges to women. The women were constantly repudiated political prisoners, so the hunger strikes increased as more women were transported to the Occoquan Workhouse (Ford 58).

In conclusion, the film was accurate when portraying my captivity in Solitary Confinement as it shows how I was enforced into the psychiatric quarter of the workhouse. When the psychoanalyst asks why I am declining lunch, I respond that I want the same rights as men have, especially when it comes to voting. The film focuses on my hunger strike trying to be historic, but does display the bigger amount of hunger strikes later on. Thus, the movie does not represent the full scale of the situation. That is the reason it is important to read the literature and look for other sources in case people want to know my actual story completely.

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