Five Documentaries Featuring Women on Netflix

Netflix is filled with ample amounts of movies and shows to choose from, yet somehow at times, it feels impossible to find something new to watch. I love shows of all caliber, but documentaries hold a considerable part of my heart. I wouldn't say binge-watching documentaries is my talent, but it certainly isn't something I'm bad at. I decided to comprise a list of five documentaries on Netflix that feature women in a large capacity.

There are many phenomenal documentaries on Netflix that were up for consideration but didn't make the cut when I chose my five. I chose the first three documentaries listed because I felt like they were relatable to current issues surrounding women that are often discussed, such as feminism, abortion, and sex trafficking. I chose the last two documentary series because they offer mystery and crime. While the genre is the same, the women displayed in the previous two documentary series are very different, so much so that some might consider it a difference between heaven and hell. 

  1. 1. 1. Feminists

    Feminists, released in 2018, was directed by Johanna Demetrakas. It reflects upon portraits from a book called ‘Emergence’ by photographer Cynthia MacAdams that captured women of all ages embracing feminism in the 1970s by shedding cultural restrictions. The documentary captures the essence of ‘Emergence’ and the second wave of feminism by interviewing the women who were photographed many years ago and speaking with new-age feminists. Each woman has a unique story on how they found their feminism, which I find inspirational as a woman. It’s a great look at firsthand accounts of the evolution of feminism.

  2. 2. Reversing Roe

    Reversing Roe, released in 2018, was directed by Keli Goff and Anne Sundberg. The film analyzes abortion laws in the United States through interviewing individuals sitting on both sides of the controversial debate. This documentary is incredibly insightful on the history of abortion in America and the decision of Roe V. Wade. It shares the history of abortion before Roe V. Wade and after. There are some raw images, and it is a massive subject to talk about, but I appreciate the non-bias approach from the directors of this film!

  3. 3. 3. I am Jane Doe

    I Am Jane Doe was released in 2017 and was directed by Mary Mazzio. This film can be triggering for sexual assault survivors, so please keep that in mind! The film shares stories from sex trafficking survivors and the difficulties they have face in the court of law. I stumbled upon this documentary while looking for a different documentary, The Hunting Ground, that is no longer on Netflix. I Am Jane Doe was suggested, and I decided to give it a watch! The women, who were trafficked as children, remain anonymous while sharing their stories surrounding a website called Backpage. Backpage allowed pimps to post underage girls for sex and were able to hide behind outdated internet laws to do it. The series follows a string of court cases urging to end the illegal sale of minors on the Backpage.

  4. 4. The Keepers

    The Keepers was released in 2017 by director Ryan White. The Keepers is more of a sinister documentary but is probably my favorite. Rather than a movie, The Keepers is a 7-part docuseries with episodes ranging almost an hour long. The series is incredibly intense and would like to warn again watching this can be incredibly triggering for sexual assault survivors. The docuseries uncovers horrors that occurred within the Catholic Dieses of Baltimore in the 60s and 70s. Sister Cathy disappeared in 1969, her body was later found, and it is believed that her death is a result of attempting to end the sexual abuse occurring in the school she taught at. The series heavily highlights the abuse that occurred behind school walls, and it’s a lot to stomach. Survivors of the abuse are interviewed, and with the help of a Facebook Group, the horrendous tragedies begin to unfold and show a theory of what happened to Sister Kathy. I have a lot of different feelings in regards to this documentary; there are so many strong women in such a dark series.

  5. 5. Evil Genius 

    Evil Genius was released in 2018 and was directed by Barbara Schroeder and Trey Borzillieri. Evil Genius is beyond wild! The documentary covers a bank heist gone wrong that spins into a sinister plan made by a woman, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, known for her intellect. The four-part series takes you on a rollercoaster ride of different events stemming from a bank heist where a man, Brian Wells, was killed after a bomb strapped to him exploded. If you’re into true crime, this is an interesting one!

It was really hard only picking five documentaries to share. Netflix produces their own documentaries as well as streams documentaries made by other networks. If you liked any of these, I’d definitely recommend checking out what else Netflix has to offer! Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press, Abducted in Plain Sight, and the Confession Tapes are additional documentaries I’d recommend watching.