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“Makers: The Women Who Made America”

February 28, 2013

“Makers: The Women Who Made America”
Public Broadcasting Station Special
February 26, 2013

I was glad to see that Public Television was sensitive to the needs and history of women and found much to like in “Makers.” I liked The coverage of the emergence of the feminist movement in 1960s and 1970s was decently done.  Young women today can benefit by actually seeing what women’s lives were like then and  catch some of the excitement and hope of those years.  I also particularly liked the section of the struggle for better jobs and careers for women.  I was glad to see some inclusion of African American women and lesbians, but I would have liked more, especially regarding how their unique contributions shaped feminism.   I enjoyed seeing the women whose books I had read in those years and learning who they have become today.

Overall, however, I didn’t think the program did enough to include of the more radical feminists, black or white. My discomfort grew as coverage moved into the more recent years when feminism turned their focus onto particular issues; birth control, abortion, domestic violence, and sexual harassment.   over the past 40 years, gains here have been life-changing for women.  We need to realize that what life would be like if political conservatives succeed in reversing them.   These are reforms, however; changes that have occurred within our political and economic system. Women continue to suffer in particular ways from the control of our government by international corporations and the drive to cut back policies which benefit women and children.

As I watched the later part of the program, I also became annoyed at how much coverage it gave to those, like Phyllis Shafly, who opposed feminism.  They are still fighting for a return to a world that doesn’t exist for most women.  Part of why feminism has lost its force in recent years is that we have had to spend our energy defending our gains rather than creatively focusing on how women fit into the larger picture of injustice.  Of course feminism did not solve all women’s problems.  That so much was accomplished is what is remarkable. If we want to celebrate women we need stop blaming feminism not accomplishing all its dreams.

I also got bored with the second half of the program.  I realized once again why feminism has always been much more for me than the particular issues which I support.   For me, feminism is about changing how we think about gender and inequality and working to create a society that is more concerned with all its people, not simply the men who already have power.  The last straw was a statement about how American women need to help women all over the  globe who are “in so much more trouble than we are.”  I know the words were well meant, but they exhibited the arrogance of claiming we are superior to everyone else.  They sound like we have solved all our problems and have nothing left to learn from others.  This is an attitude that angers women everywhere who want to be treated as equals not objects of our charity.

Feminism is not simply something that happened in the past.  It raises ongoing challenges for our whole society and dreaming new dreams of justice and equality for all.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 5, 2013 7:19 pm

    Thanks for covering this–I didn’t get to see it, so it’s nice to know what its strengths and failings were.

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