There is no better time than now to remember the women who fought and died to have the 19th Amendment, the amendment that allows women to vote, added to the constitution. America is coming near to a critical election, and it is important that everyone, especially women, remember to use their right to vote and remember it is their responsibility to vote. The women of the suffrage movement did not die so you could “forget to vote.” They died so women can have the same freedom to choose their politicians just like everyone else. By choosing not to vote or forgetting, those women died in vain.
To give the women of the suffrage movement a name, we’ll start with Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, the founders of the suffrage movement. These two women were incredible, they thought and fought for women’s rights when people would laugh in their face and assume that it was a funny joke. They did this for 20 years. Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, following in their footsteps, created the National Woman’s Party which fought directly for the 19th Amendment. Paul and Burns (along with many member s of the National Woman’s Party) protested outside the White House for over six months, and were still ignored by President Wilson.
On Nov. 15, 1917, “the night of terror,” the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered the guards to “teach the suffragists a lesson”, for picketing in front of the White House. A recent article called “The Night of Terror” vividly explains and has pictures of how each member of the National Woman’s Party was tortured. The article describes Paul’s situation, “They forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.” The article also tells that the same night Burns was arrested, chained to the ceiling and brutally beaten. The list goes on of the gruesome behavior enacted upon these women.
A film called “Iron Jawed Angels” by HBO, starring Hillary Swank as Alice Paul, shows the battle that the women of the suffrage movement went through. Although some of the scenes of Paul being tortured are difficult to watch, the image of struggle of the suffrage women will be permanently embedded in one’s mind.
On West Chester University campus there will be a showing of “Iron Jawed Angels” on Monday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Main Hall auditorium. The movie is free of charge (as will be the food provided). The showing is a collaboration of many women’s rights groups such as The Association of Women’s Empowerment, The Women’s Center, The League of Women Voters, and the AAUW of West Chester – Chester County. Everyone should attend the showing, regardless of gender. The showing of this movie is to remind women the right to vote was not easily handed to them, and therefore the responsibility should not be taken lightly. Remember to vote this November, what would Alice Paul say if you said, “I have too much homework.”
Alyssa Strasser is a third-year student majoring in international relations. She can be reached at AS745673@wcupa.edu.