Last night's airing of Makers on PBS got a lot of attention, in part for what it didn't include: Feminism in the last 20 years or so, especially what's been happening online. But that's okay. Feminism has a deep and profound history too big to fit in a 3-hour documentary.
The story starts before the 1950s. The story continues on through today. And the story is far more diverse than the mostly-white narrative shared in the film. In the Washington Post, Annie Groer writes:
For activists of a certain age, “Makers” is a sentimental journey back to the days of big ideas, big dreams, big hair and big glasses. For GenX and Millennial women who still may not know that single “girls” of yesteryear could not get credit cards, birth control or even an apartment lease, “Makers” is a crash course in, pardon the expression, herstory.
Yes, the film is quite sharp in its portrait of feminism from the 1950s through the 1980s. What struck me in watching it, though, was how half-silent the movie seemed to be regarding feminism happening today.
It’s no surprise that “Makers” ends with several prominent younger women chewing over the work life/home life balancing act, and defining 21st century feminism as whatever they want it to be.
Missing for me were the prominent feminists of the younger generations. The women who are active online, on blogs, on Twitter, on Facebook. The Makers story ended with "today" without really showing us today.
Okay, snark aside: The onus isn't on the Makers filmmakers. They did an exceptional job telling their stories. No, the onus is on all of us.
Trigger Warning, a documentary film
A few weeks ago we were among several bloggers who received information on a remarkable new short documentary posted online: "Trigger Warning," by Nicole Louise Melleby, a 23 year old filmmaker from New Jersey. In this she takes on a subject that anyone who's touched it can tell you is red hot and difficult to take on: rape culture.
And yet take it on she does, head on. And she does through reasoned discussion among young men and women. And it ends up being quite compelling and easy to watch, despite its difficult topic.
In an email, she explains how the film came about:
My senior year at my university, I decided to make this my big project. However, the school was not as receptive to the idea as I thought they would be. I had to have a bunch of different meetings with different administrative personnel, and they were all very wary to the idea. They talked about different rules, and how I needed to walk a fine line, and how I was not allowed in any way to interview “a bunch of rape victims telling their stories”, which, while that wasn’t what my doc was going to be, I still couldn’t understand why not. There were a lot of hoops to jump through and red tape to break, and it only angered me more. Here I was trying to make a documentary on rape culture, and it was that exact culture that tried to stop me from doing so.
I did have a professor who had my back, and we managed to do this anyway. After a semester of planning and research, I spent the next semester filming. Getting together groups to interview wasn’t difficult – my brother was in high school so I grabbed him and a bunch of his friends, knowing that they used terms like “you totally raped that exam”, and the students on my campus were very willing to help. My professor introduced me to Rochelle Keyhan from Hollaback! and my filmmaking team and I contacted PCAR for an interview, which is how we met Liz Zadnik. With a small crew of filmmaking students from my classes, we conducted the five separate interviews, and my D.P. Dan and editor Liz both worked hard to figure out our introduction shots. It was a lot of teamwork, and I’m very grateful to my entire crew for all their work. The best part for me was seeing how excited everyone else became about the topic at hand.
Nicole is not done.
We need a lot of help. We ask that if anyone knows of a sexual abuse organization that would love to use our film to send them our way. We also want to get as much press as we can to generate interest. We need people to blog and write about us, as you were so kind to do.
Mostly, we are in need of funds. Submitting to film festivals costs anywhere from $20-$100, which we just simply cannot afford. Any little bit helps, and we ask that anyone who can visits our donation page on our website.
For those who can’t, we ask that people start talking about the film. Talk about rape culture. We want people to start understanding that rape jokes are never okay, and we want to try and start making a change.
Watch the film. If you like it, "like" it, share it, link to it. Worth noting is that the Makers website has more online videos with more stories, more perspectives. Are there other stories you know about?