In recognition of women’s history month, two Lansing Community College professors hosted a discussion based upon the HBO documentary “Iron Jawed Angels.”
The viewing took place Tuesday, March 11 in LCC’s library, where a Women’s History Month Display can be found in the atrium until March 31. The film provided insight into the persistence of women like Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, played by Hilary Swank and Frances O’Connor respectively, during the long and much-resisted suffragette movement.
History professor Anne Heutsche, who co-hosted the event with department colleague Jeff Janowick, said that providing such events is important to her because she feels that there is still quite a bit of work to be done to raise awareness about women’s rights.
“This is a compelling [and] crucial part of our history, and I would argue that most people do not know of this history,” she said. “We are standing on the backs of our foremothers without really acknowledging their contributions to the struggle of equality.”
According to Heutsche, these events help students look at issues from a broader perspective.
LCC library liaison Lidiya Grote said that along with women’s history events, the library also features displays on Native American history, Black history and more.
“Diversity events are important because we do live in a global society,” Grote said.
This event examined the struggles and eventual success of the women’s suffrage movement as detailed in Katja von Garnier’s “Iron Jawed Angels,” and concluded with a discussion of the equalities and liberties women are still denied today.
“The women’s issues committee asked Mr. Janowick to lead the discussion because we thought it was very important to recognize that, first of all, feminism involves both men and women – but also, the reality is that, unfortunately, legitimacy comes in a male’s voice,” said Heutsche.
“Women’s issues are…every human’s rights issues.” She cited the documentary’s assertion that better protection in industry concerns all workers, male or female. “But coming from a man’s voice gives it more power and authority, and that’s problematic.”
Heutsche said other issues facing women today include sexuality, the disparity between men and women in fields that require advanced degrees and the discrepancy in wages.
“Women across disciplines, across professions, across careers, still only make 78 cents to a man’s dollar,” she said.
“There are many different causes that I think the 20-year-olds and younger are going to have to deal with that are going to have profound influences on them,” said Heutsche. “People often say that feminism only affects women, and I don’t believe that. I think feminism, on a basic level, is ‘men and women are created equal.’”
Janowick added, “We saw that in the film when Alice Paul is being interviewed by the doctor and he says, ‘Explain your cause,’ and she’s like, ‘What’s to explain?’”
“I think that’s the essence of this group,” Janowick said. “What is there to explain? We just want to be treated as equals. We want to have a voice. We want to have a place. That shouldn’t be so hard.”
“One thing that I think is important is that we are not fighting with each other,” said Grote. “I love my husband and want him to get paid well and be secure in his job, and he wants me to do the same. … I’m not trying to be better, I’m not trying to be worse, I’m not trying to be anything other than who I am, what I am.”
For more information on LCC’s Women’s History Month events, visit the library’s calendar.