The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
It's been a couple of days since I coincidentally came across the Netflix documentary "Feminists - What were they thinking?" and it's still stuck in my mind.
The documentary directed by Johanna Demetakras was published on Netflix in 2018 and covers the topic feminism and the women's right movement in the 1970's by interviewing a variety of women who partially experienced this movement personally.
Without spoilering too much, I want to quickly mention the statements made that are stuck in my mind ever since I watched the documentary.
I think we often forget how life was when women did not have the rights and social standing that we have these days, even though there is still some progress to be done, just because we grew up already having them. But that privilege became abruptly clear to me again when I heard Judy Chicago's story of how she was ignored by her male professors in her philosophy class in college, despite multiple reports. Simply because she is a woman. Stories like this make me upset, as does knowing that such behavior still takes place today, though perhaps not to the same extent. We should be grateful for the commitment of our predecessors, but never forget that we should continue to fight discrimination against women.
Another major theme the documentary addresses is the terms "feminism" and "feminist" and how they are judged.
Filmmaker Wendy J. N. Lee says that in her circle of friends the terms feminism and feminist are avoided. Instead, they would say they advocate for gender equality. Only men would say they are feminists. Why? Because it would make them "cool".
Supporting this poor association of the terms is a story by professor Funmilola Fagbamila. During a random conversation with a male customer service representative, she was asked if she was a feminist. When she answered in the affirmative, he looked at her as if she had just said she hated men.
In conversations with other women, I myself have often received the answer "Well, I'm for the equality of the genders" to the question of whether one sees oneself as a feminist. But isn't that exactly what the term "feminism" expresses? It seems like there is still a misconception of the term that if you are for women, you must automatically be against men. The point, however, is to correct inequalities instead of creating new ones.
Another story that is stuck in my mind is the one of composer and director Meredith Monk. When she was a girl she invited a male friend from school over to play and her mother said to her: "You have to let him win all the games that you play because girls don't win." In the following minutes of the documentary she describes how this sentece followed her throughout her life and how it influenced her. This story reminded my of a statement made by Reshma Saujani in her Ted Talk in 2016. "We're raising our girls to be perfect, and we're raising our boys to be brave", she said. Even though Saujani was born a couple of generations later than Monk they both share the same perception of how different boys and girls are raised and about the different gender roles they are put in. Due to that it seems that we clearly have a lot of work to do to break down these stereotypes.
These were just a few stories and women of the documentary. The documentary really impressed me and opened my eyes to different point of views. Therefore, if the topics mentioned above interest you, I highly recommend watching the documentary. These 86 minutes will teach you a lot and are totally worth it.