“We started Black Sisters United, and it was basically a consciousness-raising group. We were struggling to understand what was different about our perspective on women’s place in the world from what we were hearing from the mainstream women’s movement. And we couldn’t have that conversation in spaces that were majority white women.”
Feminism often finds itself at the receiving end of accusations of infighting caused by differing (and sometimes polarising) viewpoints within the movement. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry demonstrates how causes can both align and diverge, but share a certain commonality at their heart. The term ‘intersectionality’ has gained significant traction in the mainstream of late and particularly in relation to discussions around modern feminism. Intersectionality seeks an inclusive movement which doesn’t limit the issues at its heart to those which pertain to white, able-bodied, middle-class, cis-gendered, straight women. As She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry demonstrates with warmth and clarity, intersectionality may be having its moment in mainstream discourse, but it has long been something feminists have grappled with.
I found the documentary to be an inspiring, engaging and – yes – empowering walk through the history of the feminist movement of the period. The history is lovingly recounted, with attention to detail and a plethora of clips from male civil rights activists heckling the female speakers off stage to a protest staged by a group of women during an all-male panel debate on the risks associated with birth control. These women fought for their voices to be heard and pointed out the clear fallacy with putting decisions around birth control in the hands of men, without asking a single woman to testify. The women featured in the film and the things they achieved are truly remarkable and seeing the unexpected crowds who turned up for unprecedented protest marches moved me to tears. So many of the opportunities I have today are available thanks to the women who fought for gender equality and legislative overhauls. These women urged people to rethink female sexuality and forced the public and governments of the time to reassess the way a woman was viewed.
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry concludes by noting that the fight for gender equality is not over. Yet the documentary also reminds us that a small group of people are capable of achieving great things. In the words of Mary Jean Collins in She’s Beautiful: “You can’t convince me you can’t change the world, because I saw it happen.”
Would highly recommend.