In celebration of Women’s “Herstory” month, the Women’s Center is watching “Makers: Women Who Make America” over three one hour sessions followed by a short discussion.
Viewers watched the first part, “The Awakening,” on Monday at 12 at the Women’s Center in the Student Union. Narrated by Meryl Streep, the first showing focused in the beginning of the women’s movement following World War II. The film highlights two feminist figures, Betty Friedan, author of “The Feminine Mystique,” and Gloria Steinem.
The film featured several female speakers including Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, award winning author Judy Bloom, former president of the National Organization of Women Aileen Hernandez, and even Gloria Steinem herself.
Kathy Fischer, the Associate Director of the Women’s Center emphasized the importance of “Makers.”
“The real people and the real footage brings it home a little bit too,” Fischer said.
These successful and articulate women talked about personal experiences in relation to the women’s movement and pivotal moments in women’s history.
“I really enjoyed it. I’ve learned about some of this stuff like the early movements, but it’s nice seeing it in one place with all of the different voices,” an eighth-semester business major said.
Fischer noted why movies like “Makers” are important not only to individual understandings of the women’s movement, but to the growth of the movement.
“It’s so important that we do learn our history — our herstory. Yes, [it’s] an imperfect on many accounts movement, but do we give it up or do we commit to doing better,” Fischer said. “And so, I think that’s a place where from the Women’s Center perspective and from the women’s march perspective et cetera, that talking about Black Lives Matter, talking about DACA, talking about transadvocacy, talking about immigration — all of those things have to be part of the conversation,” Fischer said.
Fourth-semester English major Penina Beede offered insight into the importance of furthering this kind of intersectional feminism, “the understanding of how women's overlapping identities — including race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation-- impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination,” according to USA Today.
“In today’s context, it’s important to compare definitely to the roots of the movement to where we are now, and, for me, whenever I think about the growth of the movement, I think something that we need to focus more on now is inclusiveness and not being judgmental of another woman’s choice,” said Beede. “Intersectionality is incredibly important to all of this.”
The film discusses how this is where feminism has gone wrong in the past. Feminism, the film argues, cannot simply be white women focused on seemingly trivial things, but rather it must be a greater effort to help all women free themselves from the patriarchal system.
Beede also stressed that what must matter to the modern women’s movement is representing “all different types of women because women are all different types of people,” Beede said.
“Just because it’s not my fight doesn’t mean that I should see myself as part of fighting on behalf of all people,” Fischer said.
Beede and Fischers’ points work best together because it’s not just about one marginalized group fighting for itself; white, black, brown, lesbian, trans and ace, women, among the many women who may not fit a label, must fight together for each other.
However, with the freedom of choice that equality campaigns including feminism advocate leads to conflicting views such as the clash between pro-choice and pro-life feminists. Some wonder if there is room for pro-life women in the feminist movement.
“In terms of excluding people, that’s not, I don’t think, the way that we hope we’ll be moving forward from here. I think some hard convos need to happen, are happening, will continue to happen and we talk a lot here too about how do you hold community, and connection and conflict because these are complex system of oppression we are trying to untangle,” Fischer said. “There’s not a good, perfect, clean answer. How do we stay in the convo and how to we commit to being uncomfortable and potentially disturbed to getting to a place of more understanding.”
Fischer offered a brief, but vital message about feminism.
“People have a right to do their feminism in the way that they see fit. It is about having choice. Everyone should have access to try,” Fischer said.
Similarly, the idea of feminism seems to make even liberal men uneasy because they see feminists as “man-haters.”
“There’s a feeling of like ‘I’m assuming that you’re a feminist and therefore I’m assuming that you’re militantly against me as a man,’” Beede said.
Fischer suggested that the most successful way to combat and unlearn the socialization that nurtures this harmful viewpoint is through dialogue. Simply ask them why they think that a feminists hate them.
“Hate isn’t a thing that happens here or is condoned here, first of all. Second of all, men are part of the solution,” Fischer said.
Rather than thinking that men are the only problem, feminists believe that men are capable of so much more than the simple-minded views reinforced by society. Instead, we hate the patriarchal system that teaches men to be this way.
The enlightening film and conversation will continue after break at the Women’s Center in the Student Union.
Alex Taylor is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.