Iron Jawed Angels: America’s distorted history

“China has one strength that this country lacks: A leadership foursquare behind modern science while America’s carbon cavemen question the need for green energy.” (Froma Harrop: We’re Indebted to an Unfriendly Nation; The Dallas Morning News (Texas); Dec 22, 2010).

I am sure that China has multiple strengths but as with many, if not most commercial American journalists, American virtues are highlighted to provide the illusion that this nation actually provides that beacon on the hill—that lights the way for others to follow.

What America does have is a history of bias and bigotry of outstanding proportions against all who are not conservative males. Token women are permitted to join their voices to that call for “one-view” while all dissenting voices are discounted as disruptive and dangerous. That is why it took American women until 1920 to be granted the right to vote and why even to this day, voter suppression is always just one state administration away from being grabbed from us—and others who are perceived as “fringe.”

I spent a restless night that I attribute to watching the film Iron Jawed Angels Monday evening. These are images that will remain with me for a lifetime and ones that conjure up the messages that girls and women hear in multiple ways . . . be good, be silent, don’t rock the boat, males are the head of families; women are nannies.

But it is not just girls and women who have those messages imprinted into their brains; boys and men also believe the lie of their superiority based on gender rather than accomplishments.

This is a nation that hides its history by slight of hand and conscious or unconscious propaganda.

Ask many people about the Women’s Suffrage Movement and all they can conjure up are Disney images of women neglecting their families to put on a sash and march in a silly and frivolous women’s parade. Refresh your memories . . . go back and look at Mary Poppins film clips.

Then watch Iron Jawed Angels and allow your gut to churn as you watch the brutality that went into preventing women from being granted full citizenship.

Thus unfolded the Night of Terror on November 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach the suffragists imprisoned a lesson because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote.

To what lengths will politicians go to prevent women from having a voice in their own destiny?

If politicians of the day had prevailed, Alice Paul would have been declared insane and have been permanently institutionalized.

The assigned psychiatrist refused to make that diagnosis: Alice Paul is strong and brave; that doesn’t make her crazy. Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.

And that is true to this day . . . women and men who stand by principle and speak their truth are branded as “fringe” by the larger society and often beaten into submission.

The brutal attacks by police across this nation against those standing in peaceful protest are legion. Documented forensic evidence of police actions towards the Occupy Movement in cities across this nation, from New York City to Los Angeles, California, is discounted by prosecuting attorneys; peaceful protesters are charged with terrorism.

But the tapestry of the larger ruling society is growing an ever larger fringe as people become aware of what has been and is being stolen from us.

It is not just our jobs, pension funds and control of reproductive health that are in jeopardy; it is our voice in how this nation is governed.

As fragile as this right is, at the moment it is all that stands between us and totalitarian governance.

Sara S. DeHart, MSN, Ph.D. is Associate Professor Emeritus University of MN, School of Nursing. She also served as a Visiting Scholar University of WA. She currently resides in the Northwest and writes about various issues including public health and public policy. See Substituting deception for sound public health policy. In Jerry “Politex” Barrett (2004) Big Bush Lies, Riverwood Books (117–128). Health articles are posted on her Website: saradehart.com/index.php?page=health-articles. She may be contacted at dehart.ss@frontier.com.

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5 Responses to Iron Jawed Angels: America’s distorted history

  1. Jane Duluth, MN

    As a 60ish woman, I am appalled at the lack of concern about women’s issues in the present 20something generation. Those of us who pursued human rights from 1960′s and beyond were called shrews, man-haters, and nut-cases. Sadly, as I have worked my way through my professions and the work world, I have encountered discrimination and derision, even in situations where one would expect equality, academia. My dean recently told me he could not pay me more than a man who is not as productive as I am. Thank you Sara for continuing to write on this important topic.

    • Our history as a nation is sanitzed propaganda. After reading “A People’s History Of The United States” by Howard Zinn and “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James Lowen, I see that our educational system, or rather our mis-educational system tends to whitewash and eliminate inconvenient truths about our country and us as a people. As a Black man, I see that the contributions of Dr.King is begrudgingly spoken of in terms of his non-violent message, but it does not mention Fannie Lou Hamer and the Lownes County Democratic Party, SNCC, or Bayard Rustin. It barely mentions Malcolm X, The Black Panther Party or other contributors to the Civil Rights struggle. As corporations increase their takeover of education, this history is in jeopardy of being suppressed leaving future generations at risk of being intellectually stunted and placated into accepting a dystopian future as drones for the corporate state.

      • Our history as a naotin is sanitzed propaganda. After reading A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn and Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Lowen, I see that our educational system, or rather our mis-educational system tends to whitewash and eliminate inconvenient truths about our country and us as a people. As a Black man, I see that the contributions of Dr.King is begrudgingly spoken of in terms of his non-violent message, but it does not mention Fannie Lou Hamer and the Lownes County Democratic Party, SNCC, or Bayard Rustin. It barely mentions Malcolm X, The Black Panther Party or other contributors to the Civil Rights struggle. As corporations increase their takeover of education, this history is in jeopardy of being suppressed leaving future generations at risk of being intellectually stunted and placated into accepting a dystopian future as drones for the corporate state.

  2. Rand Clifford

    “…our voice in how this nation is governed.”

    Sara DeHart has a gift for saying many things with few words. Our voice has been so muted, marginalized, sanitized and sterilized that in the corridors of power it is a mere whisper, hoarse and fading…a voice thought of only in terms of suppression.

    Perception management is what “news” has become. Froma Harrup…Mona Charen, Charles Krauthammer, Trudy Rubin—send them all back to where they belong, replace their relentless editorial page methane with…let’s start with Sara DeHart. Maybe the fresh breeze of truth and reality instead of groveling to perception managers would lift Americans from Death Valley.

    Excellent article.

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