Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"A vote is a fire escape"

Megan Seely said it clearly, “Winning the right to vote is a cornerstone to the women’s movement because it gave women political power through representation for the first time in modern history.” Whether in Iron Jawed Angels or Mary Poppins, gaining the right to vote through the First Wave was something like a fire escape. A vote gave women a voice that only men and some women could appreciate until the adoption of the 19th Amendment. Furthermore, with the power to vote, women now had the opportunity to escape numerous inequalities that were unfair to all women. Just as important to the 19th Amendment was the struggle and process to gain those rights to vote. The movies, Iron Jawed Angels and Mary Poppins, depicted the First Wave of women and the right to vote, each with their unique interpretations.

Mary Poppins illustrates images of the women’s movement, early in the 1900’s, in a very subtle manner in comparison to Iron Jawed Angels. Although the mother in Mary Poppins does indicate that she is a woman who strives for the feminist movement, through her parade, song and dances, she seems to easily take a step back when her husband enters the room. The women in Iron Jawed Angels are also proactive in the women’s movement; however, the women in this movie do not back down for fear of being punished. From the opening scene, to the hunger strikes and beat downs during their picketing, the women in Iron Jawed Angels shows resilience and strength in comparison the one women in Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins depicted women in the movement as somewhat passive. The mother did not seem very determined to provide much help on the front lines; it was almost as if she was taking the movement as a way to get out of the house in order to simply do something. In Iron Jawed Angles, most of the women were willing to pour their hearts out and did not care to go to jail. The movement was not a joke or a laughing matter for the women in Iron Jawed Angels. They were as focused as the men entering World War I, ready to strive and fight for what is right regardless of the outcome. In Mary Poppins, these actions were not taken to the same extent.

For both movies, the images of a red rose and the association of red was evident. Before his trips to work, the father in Mary Poppins would have his wife hand pick and cut a fine red rose for him to where in front of his suit. This red rose, which is associated with people who are anti-feminist, was easily seen throughout the movie.

In closing, both Mary Poppins and Iron Jawed Angels had meaningful images of the First Wave of women and the right to vote. I believe that Iron Jawed Angels did a great job in providing clear, not subtle, pictures of what women had to do in order to create a sense of justice and to have a voice in a country that had ignored them for far too long.

Seely, Megan. FIGHT LIKE A GIRL: How to be a Fealess Feminist. New York: New York University Press, 2007. 40. Print.

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