‘She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry’ Docu Gives Cred To “Angry” Feminism

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“She’s beautiful when she’s angry” is not just a patronizing statement anymore. Nope, it has now been reclaimed and used as the title for a ground-breaking new documentary examining how the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s made a huge impact on the way women live today.

‘She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry’ has limited screenings around the US between December and March 2015. For those of you elsewhere in the world don’t fret, because in this digital age we live in there is no doubt going to be an online or on-demand version available at some stage.

So why is this documentary so important to watch? Because feminism is the topic of the day, or the year, it seems. Just look at the countless bits of media coverage about the movement, whether good or bad, that saturated our screens in 2014. Beyonce standing in front of a huge “feminist” sign at the VMAs. The rise in popularity of the #womenagainstfeminism tumblr. Emma Watson’s United Nations speech. The list goes on and on. But one crucial aspect of feminism’s notoriety this year was how much effort was spent telling naysayers “no no feminism isn’t about angry women who hate men and burn their bras!”

It truly does suck that rather than spending time and energy fighting for gender equality, many celeb feminists (in particular) had to take time out of their precious press coverage space to correct the misnomers that float around way too much.

Feminist Youtuber Laci Green recently told Bustle that feminism, like any idea or form of action is a process, and there are bound to be mistakes along the way. But she also says she doesn’t like to label anyone a good or bad feminist, because the whole movement is about coming together for one common cause: gender equality, which can be reached in different ways according to one’s passion.

“I’m generally averse to calling people ‘bad feminist,’ ‘good feminist,’ and getting into this place where we’re making all these judgments of people. I really want people to feel like they can make mistakes and they can have their own version of gender equality in their head and be free and independent about it.”

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Laci also has more sympathy than some for the people who don’t identify as feminists.

“When we’re talking about people who are like, ‘I’m not a feminist’ — they’re really distancing themselves from a stereotype of feminism about hating men and about being angry all the time. It’s about equality and not about one gender over another. It’s not about tipping the scales in another direction, it’s about evening them out.”

But the notion of being angry is not altogether a bad thing, in fact it was the very attribute that enabled the feminist movement to be so effective in the first place. Because if we look a little deeper and understand the history of how the women’s rights movement of the late 1800s and the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s became a valuable component of modern culture around the world, we’ll see that anger and dissatisfaction with the current status quo was a given.

We’re not talking about hatred, we’re talking about wanting to change the standards in order to make the world a better, safer and freer place for all human beings.

Director and producer Mary Dore told news website Mic that anger is essential for political and social change.

“If you think everything is just great, why change it?”

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She also said making the film made her realize “how misinformed many people were” about feminism, which echoes what Freida mentioned in her interview. Women were dissatisfied with being thought of as second-class citizens, not being able to make their own health decisions about their bodies, and earn a living equal to that of a man. Sure, they made mistakes along the way, but that is how they learned, and that is why the feminist movement today is so vital, because it has that foundation of women who were willing to put themselves on the front lines for change.

And according to a piece in the New York Times, the declining rate in divorce in America (yes that’s right, declining!) is actually due in large part to the feminist movement of the ’60s.

“There are many reasons for the drop in divorce, including later marriages, birth control and the rise of so-called love marriages. These same forces have helped reduce the divorce rate in parts of Europe, too. Much of the trend has to do with changing gender roles — whom the feminist revolution helped and whom it left behind,” writes Claire Cain Miller who says if current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce.

“About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at even lower rates. Ultimately, a long view is likely to show that the rapid rise in divorce during the 1970s and early 1980s was an anomaly. It occurred at the same time as a new feminist movement, which caused social and economic upheaval.”

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The changing cultural norms affected this aspect of gender roles domestically, but in public life it also forced US Congress to address issues such as reproductive rights, fair wages in the work place and even women being allowed to get a pension.

It also tackles the issue of intersectionality and how feminism was on the forefront of allowing lesbian women to feel like a normal part of society because they were challenging the gender norms all around. While the fight for LGBT rights continues, it has the feminist movement to thank for speaking out against what was previously taboo. In the film we see women speaking about how they feared to come out about their sexuality in fear of losing their jobs, their livelihood and being ostracized by society.

Telling the truth and being allowed to be yourself is revolutionary, and it should not be. If it weren’t for the women’s liberation movement, we would be a long way off from our goal of reaching gender equality. If it weren’t for the radical, angry, bra-burning (which was mainly for demonstration purposes as symbol of freedom from men at the time) feminists of the 1960s, women around the world wouldn’t have the courage to speak up about gender equality in the first place.

Feminism has taught many of us that all human beings deserve autonomy, equality, and the right to live freely in a society that supports our choices. Sure we have come a hell of a long way, but it is still not far enough. The women in the film talk about how encouraging it is to them to see the current generation of modern feminists taking to the streets in protest, using their voices as a powerful force for change, and how men are becoming a vital part of the conversation.

Equality an issue that concerns every culture, and if that means we have to be passionate and a little angry to change the status quo, then so be it.

Here’s the documentary trailer below which we’re hoping might shed a little more light and create some empathy on why some feminists are angry, and why the movement deserves to have better media coverage because the fight for gender equality is not over.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry Trailer from nancy kennedy on Vimeo.

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