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In this week’s show we’re presenting excerpts from the documentary “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” a reflection on the rise of the women’s liberation movement in the United States, which explores the emergence of political thought that challenged systems of patriarchy.
SHE’S BEAUTIFUL does not try to romanticize the early movement, but dramatizes it in its exhilarating, quarrelsome, sometimes heart-wrenching glory. The film does not shy away from the controversies over race, sexual preference and leadership that arose in the women’s movement. SHE’S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE’S ANGRY captures the spirit of the time — thrilling, scandalous, and often hilarious.
That story still resonates today for women who are facing new challenges around reproductive rights and sexual violence, as the film shows present-day activists creating their generation’s own version of feminism. SHE’S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE’S ANGRY is a film about activists, made to inspire women and men to work for feminism and human rights.
Image Credit: From the film, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
- Chude Pamela Allen
- Judith Arcana
- Nona Willis Aronowitz
- Fran Beal
- Heather Booth
- Rita Mae Brown
- Susan Brownmiller
- Linda Burnham
- Jacqui Ceballos
- Mary Jean Collins
- Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
- Muriel Fox
- Jo Freeman
- Carol Giardina
- Susan Griffin
- Karla Jay
- Kate Millett
- Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
- Denise Oliver-Velez
- Trina Robbins
- Ruth Rosen
- Vivian Rothstein
- Marlene Sanders
- Alix Kates Shulman
- Ellen Shumsky
- Marilyn Webb
- Virginia Whitehill
- Ellen Willis
- Alice Wolfson
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, Documentary Credits:
- Director: Mary Dore
- Producers: Mary Dore & Nancy Kennedy, Geralyn Dreyfous
- Executive Producers: Pamela Tanner Boll and Elizabeth Driehaus
- Film Composer: Mark degli Antoni; Melancholy Guitar by Scott Anderson, courtesy of For The Bible Tells Me So Ltd; Wake up- Instrumental by Arian Saleh. Courtesy of Audio Socket
Making Contact Staff
Host/Producer: Monica Lopez
Interim Executive Director: Jessica Partnow
Staff Producers: Anita Johnson, Monica Lopez, Salima Hamirani
- Grand Caravan by Blue Dot Session
- Build a View by Corey Gray
On the next Making Contact…
ACTUALITY 01 – [00:00:00] There are a vast number of women who are beginning to wake out of the long sleep that is known as cooperation of one’s own oppression and soft integration and they are banding together to make the beginnings of a new and massive women’s movement in America and in the world to establish true equality between the sexes to break the old machine of sexual politics and replace it with a more humane and civilized world for both sexes and to end the present system’s oppression of men as well as of women. [00:00:33]
With so many sexual violence and harassment scandals leading the news these days, one has to wonder where we stand as country on issues impacting the health and safety of women and girls. During the 60’s the country experienced a vibrant feminist movement that insisted women exist as equal beings not beholden to standards set by their male counterparts. Fast forward 50 years, and many basic women’s rights are still being violated, as shown through the #metoo and #timesup movements advocating for the end to sexual harassment and violence against women.
Today on Making Contact, we’ll present the documentary, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” a reflection on the rise of the women’s liberation movement in the United States, between 1966 and 1971. Produced by Pamela Boll (BOWL), Elizabeth Driehaus (DREEHOUSE) and filmmaker Mary Dore, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry explores the emergence of political thought that challenged systems of patriarchy. This documentary provides important historical insight at a time when our country is experiencing regression around issues of reproductive rights, equity in the workplace, and violence against women.
ACTUALITY 02 – Definition of Feminism
[00:00:00] There are a vast number of women who are beginning to wake out of the Long Sleep that is known as cooperation of one’s own oppression and soft integration and they are banding together to make the beginnings of a new and massive women’s movement in America and in the world to establish true equality between the sexes to break the old machine of sexual politics and replace it with a more humane and civilized world for both sexes and to end the present system’s oppression of men as well as of women. [00:00:00][0.0]
[00:00:01] The feminists here tonight do not believe a woman’s right as a feminist what we believe in is very simple. And that is the social economic and political equality of the sexes. Because the relationship between the sexes is working out fresh fruit. We have been through history. We have. If you do something as remarkable as changing the relationship between the sexes everything is at risk every possible idea. And many people don’t like it especially men don’t like it. They’re very threatened by it. Women were really is a lot of insignificant people that are really trying to change their own interests and boost their own ego by making brash statements or being on television or some oversensitive or the y in some sense we don’t like being so sensitive it’s not pleasant. We don’t like having to always be catching things were or they didn’t exist. But as long as people are going to be insensitive to our position we’re going to have to keep correcting them because there’s no other way to change consciousness. Women given their educational status can earn 60 percent of what men of the same education can. What that really means is that a woman with College Education B.A. earns what a man does who has three years of high school. This is economic discrimination and exploitation. Women as well as men told me I was wrong over and over again. Women are not oppressed. Or what does it matter who cares you have a lot of influence. You were working against cultural norms. You’re working against institutions. How do you feel about women’s liberation. WOMAN’S PLACE MORE home. [00:01:50][109.6]
[00:01:52] And to paint yourself too much totally against it. I feel I don’t know whether being liberated from many women protested that they like cooking and housework and catering to men. But I would argue with some woman who is being extremely defensive about the movement and then six months later would run into her at a demonstration. The status quo is being challenged by the women’s liberation movement today. It’s still a man’s world. I started getting word from people I knew in the movement by then and as I heard about these things I was able to go out and shoot them. They startled Wall Street one day by an exhibition in which roles were reversed. So beautiful all of them are sex objects. It was reported in the newspaper that there was a woman who worked in the Wall Street area. She was very well-endowed and men would wait for her outside the Wall Street train station and they would Pincher make sucking noises at her. And I thought this is pretty disgusting legs. So I organized it with I rather grandly called the First National Ogo those fancy just bring out your best all the very clever events help the women’s movement a lot keep your best way its way. Now doesn’t my taste to do the kind of demonstrations and things that some of them did. But I was always sort of gleeful about it underneath and I thought you know go for it on Wall Street firms were trying to point out what it feels like to be whistled dead put down constantly sexually every time we walk down the street and we don’t want to be subprojects anymore. Is Love Out is Out unless men change it’s going to be very soon. [00:04:10][0.0]
Prior to the women’s liberation movement, most women were conditioned to meet the needs and expectations of men. But the introduction of this new feminist thought allowed women to view themselves as full human beings,– equally capable of defining themselves and deciding their own paths. As the civil rights movement dominated the world center stage, women weren’t content with being excluded from the conversations of resistance and liberation. Their issues needed to be prioritized as well. Activist Frances Beal:
[00:00:00] The Black Liberation Movement had come into it for it’s for. We’re talking about liberation and freedom half the night on the racial side and then all of a sudden men are going to turn around and start talking about putting you in your place. That was the contradiction in terms that we were no longer prepared to put up with. So 1968 we founded the sncc Black Women’s Liberation Committee to take up some of these issues. A number of women felt that we need to go off on our own and focus on what we needed to do in our fight for liberation. I was a graduate student at Berkeley. One day I saw a little three by five card in the student union and it said a women’s group forming and this consciousness raising groups spontaneously grew up in many areas of the country. And I first heard about the women’s liberation movement. I had two little kids under five. My connection with the world was I felt finished during one of my crises of feeling that my life was over. I heard some young women talking about meetings they were having and they were talking about women’s liberation and they gave the address of a meeting page. So I went to this meeting and there were these women talking about their lives as I had never imagined people could be specially trained. That’s why you get married. If we start to look a certain way we went around the room and people asked a very simple question How would your life have been different if you had been a boy. Being a woman as possible. We challenged concepts of masculinity. We challenge concepts of femininity. We talked about skin color how young black women were. I would put cream on it in order to make their self all light skinned. Suddenly everything was up for questioning. Women did all of the family and housework and cooking and the men got to make the living and get all of the attention in the world. Why was that compared with other women. And we heard each other we heard each other in the speech. You could sense that you could feel it you could you could cut it with a knife as they say it was the room was electric with whatever was going to be shared. So I said I’ve had three abortions and the last one was within the last year. [00:04:11][135.2]
[00:04:12] And I started to cry because I suddenly understood that I wasn’t alone that what I had considered personal embarrassment was something that was part of this whole larger experience. The big insight of the women’s movement was the personal is political problems that you felt were happening to you alone probably were your fault. But if it’s happening to other people. Then it’s a social problem and not just a personal problem. [3:42mins]
The framing of women’s oppression as a societal construct, put all of the daily “personal” challenges that women faced into a new, broad context. For the first time, women were openly broaching subjects that generations before were too fearful to speak of. Women were demanding the right to control their own bodies and lives without permission from men or the state. Feminist organizers like Frances Beal were even exploring concepts of “triple oppression” impacting women of color.
ACTUALITY 03 – Abortion
[00:00:02] Chats: Sisterhood is powerful. Women have a fundamental right to control their own bodies and to control their own life. Since the suffragettes fought for the right to vote has an issue been more critical to women than abortion. Somewhere around 1970 I went to abortion rights rally in San Francisco and it was a sea of white women. Very few women of color. And someone grabbed a bullhorn and asked for the African-American women who were there to gather under a tree. And we decided that we would form a group called Black Sisters United. I was very glad that you know somebody called African-American women together and said you know maybe we have something to talk about. That might be a tiny bit different from what’s coming from the stage and indeed we did. I was invited up to Harlem to speak at a event around abortion. [00:02:15][132.3]
[00:02:17] Remember in the Black Liberation Movement the big debate with abortion is genocide. Women should have babies for the revolution. And I remember going up those stairs and my knees were literally knocking because this was a bunch of nationalists and I was really scared. I concentrated a lot about the deaths of black women as a result of illegal abortion and how we should be able to choose when we want to have children. So I managed to survive. You know some of the attacks on my way out twice that happened. One woman said to me whispered to me Thank God you speak up. Thank God you’re speaking up. And another as I was approaching the door said Right on right on. Dear brothers poor black women decide for themselves whether to have a baby or not have a baby. Black women are being asked by militant black brothers not to practice birth control because it’s a form of why he’s committing genocide on black people. Well true enough but black women in the United States have to fight back. Out of our own experience of oppression and having too many babies stops us from teaching them the truth from supporting our children and from stopping the brainwashing. As you say and fighting black men who still want to use and exploit us was very difficult for middle class white women to have any conception about what was going on in communities of color and those differences could have been in conversation with each other. But if there isn’t even the knowledge that there’s differences in experience and perspective and the voice of one is used as the voice of all then you have a problem. [00:04:15][118.5]
[00:04:18] That was during a period when black women did not particularly identify with the women’s movement. Mrs. Norton why are you a black woman in Hong and women’s liberation. I’m involved in the struggle for women’s rights because I believe women are disadvantaged. Black women are no less than white women indeed black women more than white women. Women who have spent their lives working in other women’s kitchens all have a different kind of handicap than women who have been oppressed for their sex in other ways. We were grappling with that idea of how do you integrate race class and gender. That’s the reason why we had some reservations about the term feminism because feminism was just seemed to be dealing with the female aspect of your being important to keep in mind that black women are organized in their own organizations in their own version of Black Women’s Liberation. Black Sisters United was essentially a consciousness raising group and it was in that group the very first conversations I had ever had about differences in sexual orientation. It was the first group I was in in which there were lesbian women. And so it was just a deep learning experience.
Frances Beal describes how the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s sparked support networks that transformed women’s lives and paved the way for real societal change.
[00:00:00] They had classes on stuff. Women need to know automobile repair women’s history the facts of women’s lives. Why have a school. Because these things are not being taught in the schools. I taught women’s sexuality contraception abortion. Abortion was a very important issue to both groups at that time with no doing more of the legal work in the Women’s Union doing more of the direct service work. In 1964 a friend mentioned that his sister was pregnant and nearly suicidal. Could I do anything about it. And I was referred through a series of connections to a doctor. I asked him if he would perform an abortion. He said yes. And a few weeks later someone else called and said they also were looking for an abortion. The word had spread. And at that point I decided to set up a bit of a system. I was living in a dormitory at the time. And so I told people to ask for Jane I could tell within the first minute what they were calling about because there was a pause it was a hesitance there was a tension. Many were frightened because three people discussing an abortion in those days was a conspiracy to commit felony murder. Jane was this service that was established in Chicago that provided abortions when abortion was illegal. We would have women call us who were in need of the abortion service and of course having Jane available without having to refer them to the mob was a godsend. The group would taken the calls and we would do counseling. [00:01:38][97.4]
[00:01:39] Then women would be brought to specific houses on a rotating basis where the procedures would be done the service moved every day from somebody’s home does somebody’s home which is quite amazing. I joined the abortion service because I know that women are sometimes desperate and they are going to hurt themselves in order to end their pregnancies. When I began Jane work a few dozen women a week were coming through. After about six months there were at least 100 women coming through. Ultimately one really good abortionist taught chains how to do abortions with skill and care and then those genes taught other chains all of us were always aware that what we were doing was illegal that we could go to jail. You might have to throw everything in your bag and run down the back stairs. At any moment. But we understood that it was important work useful work necessary work. What is the relationship of a movement to the whole question of motherhood and the affection of mothers for children and so forth. It’s a bad thing to have children if you want them and being able to not have children if you don’t want them and if you want to take care centers you want to work in the women’s movement. The myth was that we hated men who hated marriage we hated children. That’s not right. The group I was in we talked mostly about childcare being the absolute precondition for women’s emancipation. One of the earliest battles was for child care. It’s now a statement of purpose. We knew that women could not hold jobs and be promoted until society recognized its obligation to help take care of more children. [00:03:52][132.7]
[00:03:52] And I remember some of the early demonstrations those who had kids we would bring the kids and people would say things like we can talk with you nursing babies and stuff like that and we would say show us a day care center. We’ll be happy to bring the kids to the daycare center. Parents are accused of wanting women out of the home and leaving children come what may. Why. After a great deal of work we’re feminists we’re in the leadership. We got close to having a real child care system in 1971 amazingly enough. The women’s movement the Congress the Senate passed a comprehensive child care act. Most historians don’t even remember that. Forget about the rest of society and President Nixon vetoed it. He said We don’t want to make our women like Soviet women. We want women to take care of their own children was a tragic moment in history and we’ve been paying for it ever since. It’s one thing for women to pay the price. It’s another thing for generations of children to pay the price as well. CUT
You’re listening to the documentary, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” a reflection on the rise of the women’s liberation movement in the United States, between 1966 and 1971. Produced by Pamela Boll (BOWL), Elizabeth Driehaus (DREEHOUSE) and filmmaker Mary Dore.
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A central theme of the Women’s Liberation Movement – “Our Bodies, Our Lives” shifted the paradigm for how men and women existed in the world. Women were no longer willing to participate in their own oppression – to be sexualized, or seen as objects to be dominated by male supremacy. The movement provided women with a platform to speak out against a wide range of injustices against them.
ACTUALITY 04 – Violence Against Women
[00:00:00] My background is very very different from many of the people I met on the left in general. My family were sharecroppers from Oklahoma and we were very very poor. For me anything negative that ever happened had to do with class as being put down even when men were massage us as is because a class you know I didn’t. I didn’t internalize is because that’s the way they treat women. So it wasn’t until I was at UCLA I started seeing how stacked the deck was against a woman. I got a professor a young professor the first day met with me. He says if I can’t do you I’m going to do so I quit. We started street patrols for the factories down by the river. Very dark. When the women got off and they were constantly being mugged and assaulted and raped the first time something did happen on a patrol these guys yelled at a bunch of lesbians. I went up and punched him. And you didn’t mark the guy ran was terrified man in Boston. This convinced us all we really needed to make self-defence a priority. So we start recruiting women for an all women’s class and we went from just our group to about 100 people. It was important to all of us that we own the streets. [00:02:46][165.6]
[00:02:56] One evening in my Tuesday night a consciousness raising group West Village one of New York radical feminists Diane Cruthers walked in with a newspaper in a knee bay from San Francisco and said there’s an article here we all have to read and it was a story about a woman in Marin County who’d been raped during a hitchhike. We read the article and we went around the room and it turned out one woman Sarah had been raped and the police said to her who’d want to rape you. A friend of mine was raped at knifepoint in her bed in off campus housing. I went with her to the student health service and she was given a lecture on her promiscuity. It was very common in a courtroom to blame the woman for the rape and rape was looked at as a crime that occurred because a man had strong sexual urges that he couldn’t satisfy any other way and it was only with the feminist movement that it came out that rape is not a crime of passion it’s a crime that expresses the urge to dominate people are not used to thinking of rape as a political crime against women. That was our slogan right is a political crime against women. [00:02:56][0.0]
ACTUALITY 05 – Moving forward – 4mins
[00:00:06]CLIP9 I think there are three achievements of the women’s movement the women’s health movement is one of them we named sexual harassment we named domestic violence the battering of wives. We then made it illegal every aspect of life has changed. Families are different. My daughter is leading a completely different life because of the women’s movement. They both take care of the children. They both earn money. They both work. There’s still some sex segregation in the workforce for sure but their whole fields that were simply closed down to women. And that’s done with. I don’t think we’re going back on that. I think the most profound thing that feminism did for me was to make me feel that I was capable of genuine freedom before the women’s movement. I had my own work. I knew I wasn’t going to live a traditional woman’s life. I felt that I probably wasn’t going to have children. And ultimately I did have my daughter and I think were it not for feminism. I don’t think I could have done that right after I got out of college. It was November 2006. My mother passed away and I got all of these letters and e-mails from her friends and her colleagues and all of the feminists started women’s liberation movement and I started to realize that even though I was down with the word feminism I didn’t really know what it meant to me and to our generation. I think the sexism that we experienced is a little bit more insidious and it’s harder to sort of point out and say see see that’s sexism. [00:02:05][119.5]
[00:02:07] But I know a lot of young kickass feminists out there at their blogging they’re out in the streets they’re organizing there’s this new movement called SlutWalk that has now swept 70 different cities and it was started by a young woman who heard a cop say about a woman who was raped while she was asking for it. She was dressed like a slut. Believe it or not one thing where we created a revolution that we are still debating in our society we’re still arguing over many issues that were raised 40 years ago like abortion my childcare. We still don’t have any child care in terms of reproductive health reproductive justice. We’ve gone backward in a big way. The bitter lesson is that no victories are permanent. All our rights are like. They’re only as good as we maintain them. [00:02:07][0.0]
Again, that’s the documentary, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.” Special thanks to the film’s producers Pamela Boll (BOWL), Elizabeth Driehaus (DREEHOUSE) and director Mary Dore. To view the full film, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” check out the Making Contact website for links.