CW: Rape, abortion
The trivial question that faces all of us in our modern day lives – what shall I watch on Netflix today? With a myriad of TV shows, movies and documentaries to choose from how on earth do you pick something that will keep your attention away from your other devices whilst watching?
Having had some time on my hands due to redundancy, I’ve been consuming documentaries almost daily and I’ve come across some inspiring, funny, sad, informative and thought provoking real life stories on Netflix that I just can’t shut up about.
I’m a broken record and all I can talk about is documentaries! To get you all as obsessed with documentaries as I am, I’ll cover the best of those I’ve watched in a series of posts.
For starters, I will detail some of my favourites that explore women’s issues and gender equality, and that tell the stories of inspiring women.
Whilst I don’t think it is important or devalues the documentaries in any way, as the themes are universal, I wanted to add a little note that these are all American documentaries.
It may be a failing on my part that I haven’t yet come across any documentaries on women’s rights / gender equality / that have a UK or European focus on Netflix, it could be that Netflix just doesn’t have any or it could be that there aren’t that many out there.
To any budding documentary makers out there with an idea for a documentary about women’s rights and issues in the UK or further afield who aren’t that sure there is an audience for it or a need – there is.
Go forth and make your femdoc now!
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
If you’re looking for something that goes into a bit of history then this one is for you! Focusing on the founding of the modern women’s movement in the US, 1966 – 1971, expect an outpouring of wisdom from the women who were there and the awesome things they did that still inspire us today.
One of the best things about this documentary is whilst it focuses on the past the struggles that these women faced STILL face us today. Even though things may seem better on the surface, you don’t have to dig very deep to find evidence that women are still second class citizens.
Be prepared! She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry will make you want to go and make placards, dance around the streets shouting your outrage in homage to W.I.T.C.H (Women’s International Conspiracy) and join every march you can.
A good one to watch before a protest!
The Hunting Ground
The Hunting Ground puts the spotlight on campus rape and how ‘very seriously’ colleges in America treat rape and the ‘support’ that victims receive.
It follows the stories of a number of victims of assault but focuses on two women, Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, who became campus anti-rape activists following an inadequate response from their college to their sexual assaults.
With the Stanford case in the news at the moment and the woefully inadequate sentence that Brock Turner received, this gives an insight into why things are the way they are and the amazing women who are fighting, quite literally, for their lives and the right to be, not just feel, safe in a place of education.
Be prepared to get angry. Very, very angry.
George Tiller was a doctor that worked in one of three abortion clinics in the US that provided late-term abortions. He was assassinated in 2009, by an anti-abortion extremist. This documentary explores what happened to those who worked with Tiller, the recent surge in pro-life sentiment and the subsequent fight to keep abortion clinics open in the US.
The people featured in After Tiller are all wonderful, compassionate people who truly stand for women’s reproductive rights. More people need to know their story.
I first came across Miss Representation at a screening at work on International Women’s Day in 2014 and it sparked a lot of conversation afterwards over drinks with colleagues.
It explores the difficulties still facing girls as they grow up that are rooted in gender inequality, the messages the media sends us and how early we are subconsciously affected.
Miss Representation is incredibly well made and has some excellent interviews with Katie Couric, Condolezza Rice, Geena Davis and Gloria Steinem, to name just a few, and it’s very thought provoking.
I can’t recommend enough showing this to your daughters, younger siblings, cousins, students and every girl you can reach to make them aware of what the world is telling them it is like to be a woman. If you have younger male relatives or students – show it to them too so they understand just how difficult it is to fulfill your potential as a woman.
The Mask You Live In
Now I know what you’re going to say – I thought this list was about WOMEN AND WOMEN’S ISSUES and The Mask You Live In doesn’t really seem to be a good fit as it’s about THE MENFOLK. This one comes from the same maker as Miss Representation and I recommend watching them both back to back if possible.
Having assessed the impact of the media on girls growing up, Jennifer Siebel Newsom goes on to explore the impact of the media and the messages that boys absorb from people around them.
For me, The Mask You Live In highlighted how we could make big strides with gender equality by focusing on the emotional well being of boys and the tearing down of gender roles from an early age.
As with Miss Representation, both girls and boys alike should watch this documentary to understand how society shapes what it is to be a man and how you should be who you are no matter what your gender.
Have a box of tissues at the ready – this one really made me cry a lot because there isn’t enough awareness of male emotional well being and if there was the world really would be a better, dare I say, more equal place.
I hope you have found my first list of recommendations to be helpful and informative and if you have any recommendations for me, I’d love to read them.
I’ve broken down my remaining recommendations into the following categories;
Arts & Culture
Crime & Punishment
The Tales of People’s Lives
If anyone has a preference over which I cover next, please feel free to drop a line in the Comments section below.
Happy binge watching!
– Alice Wisdom is still searching for her ultimate life goal. In the meantime her mission is to spread the joy of Polaroid round the world (well, London at least) and the keep the plants in her garden alive. Follow her on twitter @Alice_Wisdom.