She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry @ The Ross

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 8.22.12 PM

Mary Dore’s documentary She’s Beautiful when She’s Angry is an historical overview of one of the most influential movements in the history of women’s liberation, the founding of the National Organization for Women, better known as NOW. The documentary features the social engineers of that founding, and you will welcome the commentary from them: Susan Brownmiller, Jacqui Michot Ceballos, Rita Mae Brown, Linda Burnham, and Eleanor Holmes Norton are just a few of this stellar line-up of narrators.

These women form a cacophony of voices all rallying around the common cause of women’s liberation. One issue that groups grappled with was how do you integrate race, class, and gender when working within the movement? How do you interlace the difference of experience between women? For example, in an interview with Linda Burnham, the activist explains, “it was very difficult for middle class white women to have any conception about what was going on in communities of color […] and when the voice of one is used as the voice of all, you have a problem.” Eleanor Norton Holmes explained “Black women who have spent their lives working in other women’s kitchens have a different kind of handicap than women who have been oppressed for their sex and other ways.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 8.24.12 PM

Mary Dore, the director, deftly weaves in stock footage from the 1960s and 1970s of demonstrations, arrests of women activists, and the downright humiliating reactions from their male counterparts. What comes through She’s Beautiful when She’s Angry is the buzz words or the women issues that have been long associated with this movement, and they are sexual harassment, rape, homophobia, domestic violence, safe ad legal abortion, and economic equality. The rallying chants equally are significant, such as “The Personal is Political”; Roxanne Dunbar’s proclamation “I am a revolutionary … I am a feminist … there is no possibility for me to be liberated except that all women be liberated”; and Texas activist Virginia Whitehill’s missive, “You’re not allowed to retire from women’s issues.” The dialogue of the narrators is astounding, and when watching them, you see that the fiery commitment to these women issues burns brightly–still.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 8.25.57 PM

Striking to the documentary are the juxtaposition of women burning bras and taking their voices to the streets with poetry and periodicals, pamphlets, and mission statements with the responses from men. One man, for example, President Richard Nixon, issued a tragic blow to the Comprehensive Child Care Act passed by the Senate in 1970. He countered, “we don’t want to make our women like soviet women. We want women to take care of their own children.” Surprisingly, men countered with their own banner “Husbands and Fathers for Women’s Liberation.”

If you want to see a well-documented history lesson on women and the struggle for equal rights, then Mary Dore’s She’s Beautiful when She’s Angry is the film for you.

The Ross logo

Watch for in-depth Film • Television • & More reviews & commentary.
In the meantime, Catch a film. Share the Popcorn. Feed Your Soul!

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: