This film is a long time coming. The Women’s Movement isn’t just about changing laws or challenging customs. It’s about awakening half the human race to full personhood and inspiring the other half to come to the dance. That’s a lot of cultural habit to liberate ourselves from. And we believe the most profound changes are the ones that come to us in personal ways.
We want to bring those stories into the 21st century, to explore the dialogue of today with young women who still face many of the most profound barriers we faced 40 years ago.
In the late ‘70s, Cynthia MacAdams, an actress turned photographer, was roaming the streets of Los Angeles and New York photographing women. She did it, she said, because something new was happening in women and she wanted to see if it showed up in photographs. Laurie Anderson, Anne Waldman, Gloria Steinem, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Kate Millett, Patti Smith, Michelle Phillips, Judy Chicago, Marisol Escobar, and Meredith Monk stopped what they were doing and looked into her lens. And many others, whose names and faces may not be so familiar but their struggle is — they stopped and looked too. And out of it came a book called EMERGENCE.
From this moment in history, each woman tells of her personal experiences as a little girl, a teenager and a grown woman — stories of frustration, of limitations and of separation that one never forgets. We intercut these personal stories with footage from commercials, movies, news, music, television, the culture of the 50s & 60s and the culture NOW. Some things have changed, some remain the same. Some are even worse. Then for each woman, there is the very personal moment of awakening to her own precious sense of identity. And at the same time, there is the exhilarating challenge of the women's movement. As we go from the photos to the culture, scenes play off the women's private moments with humor, devastating reality, and even joy, building to the present moment.
What has changed? What remains the same? Where are we now? How can this dialogue with history help women around the world?
“Feminism seems to be the scariest word in the English language. But not for those of us who experienced the game-changing awakening that was the Women’s Movement of the 1970s. Growing up in the fifties and sixties meant not only second class citizenship legally, but 2nd class human being-ship: not invited to the party of medicine, art, law, education, science, religion, except maybe as the secretary. Our film, FEMINISTS: What were they thinking? digs deep into our personal experiences of sexism and of liberation, and follows this ever-challenging dialogue right into the 21st century. We are taking it personally." — Johanna Demetrakas, Director
Use this form to share your story. Subscribe to our mailing list.