Makers: Women Who Make America

Makers: Women Who Make America is a documentary featuring interviews with notables from politics, business, entertainment, sports and more who illuminate the history of the women’s rights movement in America. In the beginning, this show may feel like old news (one generation has seen it all before, and the other doesn’t care), but the narrative quickly comes together and still has the power to astound. It tells the story of how women have shaped the United States over the last 50 years through political and personal empowerment. This is the remarkable story of a sweeping social revolution in American history, as women have asserted their rights to a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity, and personal autonomy. It’s a revolution that has unfolded in public and private, in courts and Congress, in the boardroom and the bedroom, changing not only what the world expects from women, but what women expect from themselves. It brings this story to life with priceless archival treasures and poignant often funny interviews with those who led the fight, those who opposed it, and those first generations to benefit from its success. Trailblazing women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey share their memories, as do countless women who challenged the status quo in industries from coal-mining to medicine. Oprah Winfrey tells the story about her television job in Baltimore, where she was paid $22,000 a year, but her male co-host $50,000. Nora Ephron notes that the initial act of feminism for many women was their first divorce. Hillary Rodham Clinton appears and shares her opinions. The shocker is what happened at the 1967 Boston Marathon, then an all-male event. Its director reacts to a woman who had entered (using her first initial in registering) by running into the street and trying to remove her physically himself. Seriously. There are pictures. Women have made progress, as we know, so the show’s more mature talking heads include corporate chief executives, Supreme Court justices and powerful politicians, one female coal miner, as well as authors and actresses reflecting on their experiences. They are joined by younger leaders, some of whom display striking logic. Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, recalls her brother-in-law mentioning that he was baby-sitting. “Dude, you’re not baby-sitting,” she told him. “You’re the father.” But Marissa Mayer, the chief executive of Yahoo, says she is not a feminist because she doesn’t have that “militant drive” or a “chip on her shoulder.” I love that it shows the evolution of the Women’s movement, the good and the bad, and the growing pains of second wave feminism. It reveals some of the greatest opposition to liberation from conservative Christian women—so it seems not much has changed. Bell Hooks’ theories are prevalent in the discussion of black women and poor women, concerning their marginalization during the movement. Though this film obviously couldn’t include every player from that period. Overall, the film captures the music, humor, and the voices of the women who lived through these turbulent times, along with the dizzying joy, aching frustration and ultimate triumph of a movement that turned America upside-down. But what I found most effective about this film is that it reveals to a contemporary audience an overview of women’s struggle for equality by those who were there. In doing it so shows how much was gained, but more importantly how much has been lost, and how much desperately still needs to be done. The third hour of “Makers” deals with a present reality that includes campaigns to recriminalize abortion and even deny women access to birth control. It all makes me miss Bella Abzug. I LOVED this film! I learned a few things I had not known about that time period. This should be required viewing in elementary school, since none of the textbooks cover women in history. This should be required viewing for everyone, female and male. Documentary 2013 TV-PG 1 season 3 parts. (The show’s Web site, makers.com, is chock-full of additional and often fascinating interviews.)

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