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Ride Feminism’s Second Wave in New Documentary ‘She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry’

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On March 16, 1970, Newsweek hit
the stands with the cover story
“Women in Revolt”— a feature
about the budding feminist
movement. As readers cracked
into the freshly-printed
publication that Monday morning,
46 of the company’s female
employees filed a complaint to the
Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission saying that as
women, they had been
“systematically discriminated
against in both hiring and
promotion and forced to assume a
subsidiary role” by Newsweek.
“It is ironic that while Newsweek
considers women’s grievances
newsworthy enough for such
major coverage, it continues to
maintain a policy of
discrimination against the women
on its own staff,” said Eleanor
Holmes Norton, the women’s
attorney and then-assistant legal
director at the American Civil
Liberties Union at a press
conference following the filing.
“The statistics speak for
themselves—there are more than
fifty men writing at Newsweek , but
only one woman.”
It is thanks to the bravery and
diligence of these women that I
am one of the many female staff
writers at Newsweek today. It is
also through the efforts of
countless others that women today
are able to enjoy the many fruits
of social progress.
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry is
the first theatrical documentary to
pay tribute to the daring and often
controversial women who, by
fighting for their long-overdue
rights between 1966 and 1971,
gave birth to the current women’s
movement. Through its collection
of archival footage, present day
interview narration and dramatic
readings of contemporary works,
She’s Beautiful depicts the ebbs,
flows and crowning achievements
of the grassroots-led second wave
of feminism. While the film aims
to document history and educate
its viewers, it also serves as a
warning that the battle isn’t over.
She’s Beautiful, which opened in
New York City this weekend and
will continue its national theatrical
rollout, showcases a score of some
of the movement’s strongest voices
—from National Organization for
Women (NOW) pioneer Muriel Fox
to early founder of what became
the Third World Women’s
Alliance, Fran Beal, to Rita Mae
Brown, a prominent figure in the
early lesbian feminist movement
and Judith Arcana, a member of
underground abortion service
JANE. Each woman depicted in the
film sheds light on the period’s
climate, the difficulties of their
fight and what it was like to
change the world.

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