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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 17 December 2004 Issue

By Judith Marie Gansen

Are Those Who Speak For Animals "Iron Jawed Angels" Too?

The movie Iron Jawed Angels on HBO was such an awesome movie--a heartfelt thankyou to the writers, actors, and HBO for airing this important piece of our nation's history.  Read more at:

Iron Jawed Angels : HBO Films  or  

An outstanding cast led by Hilary Swank gave, in my opinion, award winning performances and touched me deeply--I laughed a few times, I cried alot and I now have a greater understanding of what these brave women did not only for women, but for all of humanity.  It is the story of how women got the right to vote in our country.  Their fight was never taught in any history class I took--that is unconscionable.  This movie should be mandatory in EVERY classroom of the world--seen in every home and donated to every library.  Most importantly, it should be seen by some of those people in the far religious right who want to keep women in the Dark Ages.  I can't recommend it enough! 

There are often parallels in progressive issues.  We can learn from other fights for justice.  Sadly, many women now do not vote at all.  I pray they see this movie.  We need to remember what those women lived through so we could all enjoy our right to vote.  Yet some of us say we are too busy to vote or think one vote doesn't matter.  President Bush was re-elected by a small margin.  Could women have changed that?  Apathy is the the worst enemy of democracy and the absolute worst enemy of animals.  As they said in the 60's, women hold up half the sky!  We have value and we matter and while men are very active in helping animals women are the majority.

I saw in those women in the movie a tiny fraction of what we go through for the animals.  Like those of us who speak for animals, I wonder how many times they may have said:  "What am I doing all this for?"  "When can I stop giving and live my own life?"  "How many more losses can I stand when I worked so hard?"  One thing that the movie brought out was the mention of faith--  Alice Paul was a Quaker.  People of faith of any kind often have a steel will to get the job done.  Others have an inner strength that justice be served.

Was Their Fight Similar To Our Fight For Animals?

In the beginning of any movement for change, there is often ridicule or sometimes even harassment or violence against those who want to change things.  As I have mentioned before, change scares most of us.  Less intelligent people view us as "troublemakers."  That kind of thinking makes it tough on those of us trying to live our lives and at the same time make the world a better place for children and animals who will inherit the earth after we are gone.  I suppose this is why self-absorbed people make me so upset.  Everyone gets caught up in the "what's in it for me" syndrome.  I got so upset upon hearing that a young woman was getting plastic surgery so she could look like an actress she admired.  How tragic--value your uniqueness!!  Every living being matters.  Our hearts and our brains are the two most important parts of our bodies--that goes for men and women.  Look up the definition of narcissism and then resolve to follow your dreams and help stop the suffering in our world.

These women began, as we have, trying to educate people to teach them about the issue.  This is how you build a base for support and get others to join your cause.  They were also dealing with a cause that was "unpopular" as we are doing.  They had to "lobby" the press as we sometimes do.  Having connections of any kinds--whether social or other kinds of connections, helped their cause as it helps our cause for the animals.  We can learn from other progressive movements--civil rights, labor, the environmental movement, etc.  We can borrow ideas from each other.  They were knowledgable about history as we need to be and got some of their ideas from what others had tried.

Do Women Help To Give Men a Conscience?

By learning about history and watching human behavior we get important clues about how people and countries may react to new ideas or new policies--including those involving animals.  I don't believe that women are more caring than men nor are they better than men.  But I also know of husbands who stopped hunting not only because it upset their wives because it was inhumane, but because the wives worried about the dangers their husbands or boyfriends might face since hunting accidents happen every year.  While I would never advise any woman to think she can "reform" a man's bad behavior--some women have done exactly that.  I think we do sometimes bring out the "morality" in men, especially if they love us.

Women, whether we work outside the home or not, are often the nurturers, healers and caretakers.  Maybe this gives us a different perspective on life. We are in the majority in our country, yet few hold public office or are major policy makers.  Are we being brainwashed by corporations through advertising showing us that our value is only how we look?  Or by some churches showing us our value is how many babies we have or whether we are married?  Or that we are not okay if we choose to work and have children?  Can we be more than just wives and mothers?  Those jobs are very important to be sure but do we have to stop there?

I read that fundamentalist type religions are spreading in our world and those religions often are the ones most likely to suppress women's rights.  I also read that another country recently has now denied women the precious right to vote.  If this trend continues, our world will have lost something very important:  the awesome power and value of women's ideas, perspectives, thoughts and actions.  What a huge loss.  Have you ever wondered how many great medical discoveries and cures, policy decisions, ideas and inventions may have gone down the toilet because an intelligent woman threw away her brain or was not allowed to use it?  Be a sponge and soak up knowledge even after you leave school!!  Think!!  Question!!  Learn!!  And never assume that information that came before is always the truth!!

Are We Iron Jawed Angels Like The Suffragettes?

Having just lost many of my candidates in the election and having just lost the pound seizure fight locally, I was left very demoralized and frustrated to say the least.  The thought of another 4 years of this President makes me so upset I was ready to leave our country--he is already actively pursuing policies which will further harm our precious animals and our environment.  I know I will have to work 100 times harder for the animals as well as for other issues now.  When you think about our campaign on animal issues and get frustrated, depressed and upset, think about what those brave women went through and suddenly our task does not seem so overwhelming.  Their grassroots movement caught fire and became an undying flame in the hearts and minds of Americans.  Some day, I know our movement will get there too. 

I will never give up fighting for what I believe in.  We learn more from our failures than our successes.  With the neo-con Republicans still in power and the NRA gaining I believe 4 more seats in Congress, animals are in more trouble than ever before.  So ladies and gentlemen, take care of yourself so you can take the stressful days ahead of us.  Don't fall into the trap of liquor or drugs or other possible addictions--exercise and find a hobby and take breaks from the horrors we deal with--stay connected to nature as Dr. Weil recommends.  Read about our victories so you are reminded of them and they give you hope.  We can't help the animals if we fall apart or give up.  Put your thinking caps on and find legal and creative ways to help the animals.  Remember that our country swings to the left and right from time to time--the time for our animals is just around the corner.  Whether you are male or female, like the wonderful heroes who fought to give women the right to vote, be able to "take a punch" and be an "Iron Jawed Angel" for the animals!!

Staff:  Animals in Print  (free online animal publication)

Pawprints, Footprints & Animal Chatter (my editorials on mostly animal issues--if you email me please indicate in the subject column it is about one of my articles so it doesn't get deleted as spam--thanks)
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