The Struggle to Win the Vote for All US Women Using Nonviolent Direct Action
Iron Jawed Angels - Katja von Garnier's film tells the remarkable and little-known story of a group of passionate and dynamic young women, led by Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and her friend Lucy Burns (Frances O'Connor), who put their lives on the line to fight for American women's right to vote. This true story illustrates many important aspects of a nonviolent campaign for positive change. First, Alice Paul, a Quaker, insisted on using only nonviolent tactics. Second, the struggles she had with other suffragist women who wanted to have a woman's right to vote be decided on a state-by-state basis illustrates the principle that leaders must know when to compromise….and when not to. Alice Paul realized that a constitutional amendment was needed to make sure women did not eventually loose their hard-fought struggle if, in the future, state legislators might change the laws back…she did NOT compromise her overarching vision. Third, the courage of the women in the face of physical aggression illustrates that great courage is required when waging a nonviolent campaign against powerful and determined forces. Also, we see how putting women on the front lines of marches and protests changes the "chemistry" of the confrontations, making the confrontation less likely to escalate into violence than when men are facing men.