She's Beautiful When She's Angry (2014)
Cast includes: Rita Mae Brown, Susan Brownmiller, Kate Millet, Ellen Willis, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alix Kates Shulman
Director: Mary Dore (The Good Fight: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War)
Genre: History | Documentary (92 minutes)
Austin Texas... women's reproductive rights are once again under assault. "Are you mad? This issue was settled 40 years ago!" The film takes us back to 1966. What were women's priorities in 1966? Beauty contests, clothes, weddings, having children, being beautiful... "If you were raped, no one would believe you." Brimming under the surface was a kind of anger that reached critical mass and exploded. "The Feminine Mystique" was a book that captured what many women were thinking but hadn't yet expressed. Back then, if you didn't like the way things were, it was your fault. Women were treated like objects, not as full-fledged people. But women were finally starting to organize... they found others who shared their issues. The National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) started reaching out... no small task in 1966. "We had mimeographs and stamps... no Internet." But this was the era of protest movements... equal rights and anti-war campaigns... so it made sense that the women's movement would follow the same path. A campaign-style button from N.O.W. captured the sentiment... "Uppity Women Unite."
Lest we forget, in 1966 the ads in The Times were divided... "Help Wanted--Male" and "Help Wanted--Female." In the female ads, a woman with a college degree was qualified to be a secretary. When people asked, "Do you think women should get equal pay to men?" it wasn't a question... it was a challenge to the uppity women who organized. As for following in the steps of the equal rights and anti-war movements... it wasn't going to be that easy. "Take her off the stage and fuck her," screamed one protestor... a sentiment widely shared by others in the audience. Even other women often thought feminists were misguided... "you have no one to blame but yourself." In 1968, feminists staged a protest at the Miss America contest. Many of the tactics were extreme, but they started getting attention. Many women decided it was time to stop "cooperating with our oppressors."
You're Beautiful When You're Angry is a deep dive into the very beginnings of the feminist movement. Today, many women no longer call themselves feminists... even while they see assaults on their basic rights. It's not just reproductive rights... it's opportunity, equal pay, universal day care, education, women's studies, freedom from objectification and the basic right to be taken seriously as an equal human being. The filmmakers have uncovered libraries of footage from the early movement, and is shows the complexity... many issues and many different groups of women who experienced different kinds of oppression. We take it for granted that the movement has been won. That's a mistake... yet the anger is no longer there. This film will find an enthusiast audience among older women, but it's young women who need to see it and understand the commitment it took to win the inadequate victories that have been won. We should remember, "No victories are permanent." Back then even the FBI considered the movement dangerous... "Telling the truth is revolutionary."
4 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
The early days of the woman's equality movement
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Art House
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished Realism
Nutshell: Women's equality
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Informative & Thought Provoking