A Matter of Sex

A Matter of Sex (The Willmar 8) is a docudrama about disgruntled female bank tellers who stage a protest for union rights, after watching male workers pad their salaries with high-paying promotions.  This is a labor-management drama that demonstrates the blinkered sexism and routine chauvinism in a small-town Minnesota bank in the late 1970s.  Back on December 16, 1977 the female workers at Citizens National Bank in Willmar Minnesota got fed up with the unequal treatment between the male and female employees.  Do a little research and you’ll see the movie was very truthful to the real events.  My mother was one of the Willmar 8 portrayed in this movie (Doris Boshart).  I grew up on the picket line, spent two summers there with these women.  It was quite a time in our small town.  In this movie, Hollywood definitely took some liberties, but all in all it told the story pretty well.  It shows how a group of people can bond together for a common cause when it is important to them.  What was really sad was how the town residents and even the priest were telling the ladies to take their place and quiet down.  After 415 days on March 23 1979, the bank president resigned from the bank, and they thought they won.  But the labor board ruled against the women, mainly due to technical reasons, so they didn’t get the back pay they were entitled to, and could not have their jobs back.  We all know that is bull.  But the movie proved the point that losing the battle doesn’t mean you lost the war.  Somehow they win – even tho they ‘lose’.  These women helped to empower all women workers in America.  It is so sad that women were met with such discrimination in the workplace just 30 years ago.  Yes, things have changed, and for that I am grateful…but, there is still a long way to go, in my opinion.  I remember these issues well, and I am not sure they are resolved even now.  As we watch this movie it’s tempting to pat ourselves on the back and say how far we’ve come… but we haven’t.  There is still rampant sex discrimination at many job sites, but most of the time the goons have learned how to stay off the legal radar.  Men wouldn’t tolerate being paid less money than a woman for doing the same job, and neither should a woman have to.  This film shows that equality in the workforce is a much needed and deserved practice.  This is an excellent movie that should be part of every high school curriculum to help kids become more aware of sex discrimination and hopefully grow up determined to do whatever they can to end this abhorrent behavior in our workplaces.  The power of a small group of people standing united for a cause can set the foundation for equality for all.  I have a lot admiration for these women.  I was very pleased to see Jean Stapleton in a grand and commanding role beyond her famous Mrs. Archie Bunker.  This was a surprisingly great movie that captured and held my attention.  Enjoyable due to a wonderful cast re-enacting heroic women!  This is one of the best and most uplifting movies I have seen in a long time.  One of those movies that gets you mad while watching it — but then liking it at the end!  I watched the movie twice — back to back.  Kudos for this movie.  This should be a must-see movie for all.  Docudrama 1984 TV-14 1hr36m.


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