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Women's Rights

David Zheng By David Zheng on
Badge: Author | Level: 2 | Other Culture & Society Expertise:

In the modern United States, men, women, and people of all ethnicities are equal. This is the condition in which I was born in. However, it was not always like this. Inequality and discrimination prevailed in America a mere 100 years ago. In the 1910s to the ‘20s, there was a sudden movement for women’s suffrage. The movie, Iron Jawed Angels, follows the struggle of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns in their campaign for suffrage and women’s equality. I’m rather confused by the need for a movement to achieve voting rights for women. If African-Americans or any other race can vote on the grounds of “freedom for all”, then wouldn’t this obviously entitle women to the same? The amount of hypocrisy in America’s policies regarding this issue was evident, yet few people did much about it. Until, that is, Alice Paul bravely established the National Women’s Party and paved the way for the ratification of the 19th Amendment. With non-violent protests in the street corners to grand parades down major boulevards, the NWP slowly progressed their campaigning to Washington D.C. where they employed the infamous “Silent Sentinels” which stood at the gates of the White House with banners and flags for women’s suffrage. The true turning point of the NWP movement was when the Alice Paul and countless other protests were wrongfully arrested and convicted for “obstructing traffic” and sentenced to Occoquan Workhouse for 60 days. The conditions there were utterly atrocious. The place was unsanitary and the food served was borderline toxic. Within the Occoquan Workhouse, Alice Paul engaged in a hunger strike in which she refused to eat any of the food that she was served. Eventually, the guards of the workhouse resorted to force-feeding her through a plastic tube. This action slightly reminds me of the conditions of Auschwitz; in America! These torturous acts were administered upon women who only wanted equal treatment, as their Founding Fathers before them. Eventually, when word got out of their treatment, outrage ensued. President Woodrow Wilson was pressured to sign in the 19th Amendment and deemed it a necessary war-time measure in 1920.

The women’s suffrage movement was a revolutionary action that took place in America that helped affirm one of America’s most important values: Freedom and Justice for all. Alice Paul undoubtedly had the largest impact upon the ensuing political division. She helped form the National Women’s Party attended many of the protests in person. With her ingenuity, bravery, and outright determination, she changed America. She is the prime example of a person who made a difference in the world using what she believed in.