Feminist documentary explores issues through photos

Photo courtesy of George Biard, Wikipedia

Directed by Johanna Demetrakas, “Feminists: What Were They Thinking?" was released last week. The documentary film explores women’s movements and feminism while sharing photos from a 1970s collection capturing women living beyond culture perceptions.

The documentary takes the audience through photographs taken by Cynthia Adams and compares the culture Adams portrayed in today’s society. Society has always dictated women are beneath men. At the time of Adams’ photography, women weren’t allowed to have a voice and speak upon certain issues that affected the community.

The film shows women from different generations uniting and discussing women’s issues that are still relevant today. They share their past experiences and the difficulty of being a woman.

Equal pay, gender equality and discrimination were just few of the topics that are highlighted in this documentary. The director reminds the audience that fighting for change was never easy.

There were times when women failed. However, when the book of Adams’ photographs is presented to the subjects of the film, it reminds them how strong and powerful the women were.

In these photographs, the audience can see women freely expressing themselves with unique clothing, hairstyles and embracing their humanity.

As children, women are taught to act like ladies, cross their legs when sitting down and to be good girls. But in the photographs highlighted in the film, those rules don’t apply. Cynthia Adams decided to capture moments of different women where and when they felt free. The pictures represent power through facial expressions and body language.

In the 1970s it was much harder for women to stand up and voice their opinion on certain issues. To see their strength and courage in these photos not only brings inspiration but hope that there will be a definite change in the future.

Jane Fonda, Laurie Anderson and Judy Chicago are also included in this documentary to discuss other topics such as childhood, abortion, race and gender identity.

Beside the photographs, th­e movie brings the audience in through footage of protests and speeches where one can see the struggle of women fighting for equality, sexual harassment, sexual violence and women’s suffrage.

The fact that women are still fighting for the same freedoms today brings more attention to these equality issues. One can recognize that progress is happening but not all at once.

However, there aren’t many women of color featured in the documentary. I believe it’s essential to include an equal number of women from different communities to expand the scope of women’s experiences covered by the documentary.

African Americans not only have to face gender issues but race issues as well. In the past, there were certain things that white women could do that black people could not.

“Feminists: What Were They Thinking?" is overall a great documentary since it brings to light many issues that people want to push under the rug. With different movements happening today, it is very significant that a film about gender issues premiered on Netflix because many people forget how women are treated in this lifetime.


3/5 stars