Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Makers: Women Who Make America

What a thought-evoking and interesting documentary about the struggle of women and the many women who have paved the way.

The first episode begins with telling us about a woman who was the first to run a long-distance marathon--notably, the Boston Marathon, in 1967. My mother would have been ten  years old and it's incredible to think that had she attempted to run a long-distance marathon, she'd have been physically attacked by the race director in the middle of the race, just because of her sex.

But that's exactly what happened to Katherine Switzer. The only way she could even get in the race was by signing up under her first initial and full last name.

When I think of how that was my mother's "time", I'm appalled at how recent this really occurred.

The Feminine MystiqueThe show then discusses the Feminine Mystique, a book that made many a housewife realize that that deep sense of unhappiness she was feeling was nothing to be ashamed or guilty about. It just meant that she wanted to be more than just so-and-so's wife and so-and-so's mother.

The book opened the doors to the women's movement in the sixties and wow! Did it take the world by storm, as the more radical groups claimed that being a housewife was equivalent to being an unpaid slave. It's free labor, after all, for the man. I'd like to think, however, that most of us women nowadays have made our marriages more of partnerships.

One of the most interesting things to me and NOT the least surprising...the first sexual discrimination case presented to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) was between stewardesses and the airlines.

Having been in aviation for twelve years now, I can totally believe it. The aviation industry still is not always kind to women... But the nasty fact is women hired around 1953 were fired at the age of 32, declared "too old to be in public". After all, she should be at home raising children, right? And this was after discriminatory hiring practices based on their looks, weight, age, and marital status.

Another case presented, a more successful one for the women's rights movement, is Southern Bell telephone company. A woman operator kept applying for higher-paying jobs within the company only to be told over and over again that she could not have the job because she was a woman. In court, SB's defense was that they were protecting her from having to life 30 pounds. It was a lady lawyer to the rescue, a lawyer for the then women's version of the NAACP--NOW that brought 30-pound objects into the courtroom and proved over and over that she could lift them, herself not even 100 pounds.

The case was won. Enter episode two, not my favorite. Why? Now, I'm an open-minded person, and I see what they were trying to do here: show us two sides, but frankly, I didn't care to hear the other side. Did you know there was actually a group of women who OPPOSED the Equal Rights Amendment? The ERA would have ensured equal pay and the overthrowing of many laws that were discriminatory against women, but this ultra-conservative group who was really happy being slave--*coughs*--housewives at the time actually opposed it and much of the second episode followed them and their anti-abortion companions. 

If you're happy just cooking and cleaning and changing nappies all day, good for you. If you're happy, I'm happy for you, but don't make it so that women who have chosen to work are stuck making less pay just 'cause we have va-va jays. 

Billie Jean King is on the right.
Picture from Wiki Commons.
One good point the anti-ERA movement made though: equal rights would mean that we'd be drafted. Right? Didn't come to pass, but shouldn't we be drafted too?

Moving on. I really liked how this introduced me to a woman named Billie Jean King, who was a tennis player and beat a man in the "battle of the sexes." Did you know that in the sixties, when women first began playing professional tennis, that when the man won the cup he got 2,000 pounds, but when a woman won, she only got 750?

In the seventies, women could not get approved for credit cards without their husband's signature. Didn't matter if SHE was the one making the money. URGH.

The third and final episode (these are all one-hour long, making the "series" three hours total), gets into the eighties and nineties and how the older generation worries we are taking steps backs. After all, the birth control issues was just recently brought up again. But while I understand their concerns, I also have to agree with some of the women who said that the feminist movement is an ongoing, never-ending movement. We may not be out there marching, my generation, but we are feminists in that...we have CHOSEN our paths, not had them dictated to us. If we want to work, we work. If we want to have children and stay home, we do that. 

Terrific food for thought though is...are our husbands really pulling their weight around the house or are we working two shifts, one at work, one at home? Make sure your marriage is a true partnership, ladies, and don't revert back to the fifties. 

I watched this on Amazon Prime.

No comments:

Post a Comment