Feminism is not the “F” word and feminists are not the bearded, Birkenstock wearing sisterhood! Disabusing wrong-headed notions about feminism is vital in understanding its benefits to society as well as the opportunities now available to women as a result.
In a special edition of Dare We Say, I had an opportunity to interview award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Hall Lee, who reminds us that before second wave feminism (in the early 1960’s), “Want-ads were segregated. Women could only apply for secretarial or manicurist positions, for example. It was perfectly legal to hang up on a woman who applied for an technical or managerial job.”
Jennifer Hall Lee’s documentary, FEMINIST Stories from Women’s Liberation, winner, Best of the Fest at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival, is an adroit, entertaining look not only at the history of second wave feminism, but at the inventive women at the heart of this movement. Jennifer is a marvelous and welcoming narrator to a powerful, unexpectedly funny and engaging film that has been embraced by young people around the U.S. – and even as far away as Pakistan.
Perhaps the way to undo feminism’s negative media branding is to share evidence that it has been a positive for both sexes, celebrating the equality of women and men in the workplace, in relationship and under the law. But the best reasons for sharing the film’s message come from Ms. Lee herself:
“As a mother, I struggle with all of the things that hinder girls’ self-esteem; media sexualization of girls and women and a lack of female representation in media, government and history. For example, thousands of children visit the statues in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol every week. Of the 100 statues in the Hall only nine of them are of women. This is a strong message to girls that says, men are honored more than women in our history.”
“Another very concrete problem we have at the K-12 level is the lack of books about women leaders and women of history for young girls. Good luck trying to find a book for girls on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher or President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. …”
“To be a leader a girl must see women who are leaders.”
Jennifer Hall Lee, has also worked as an editor and visual effects producer on films such as Forrest Gump, Ghost, Back To The Future 2, Death Becomes Her, The Rocketeer, The Hunt For Red October, and Hook.