The Tale of Three Sisters

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Originally, I was at a loss of what I could possibly do for my activist project, but then I remembered my grandmother-in-law. Unfortunately, due to complications between my grandmother-in-law, her two sisters, and the Federal Government, I cannot mention their names nor the photographs of the interviews. They were very conservative about this documentary being on the Internet, or any social media sites – which was my original intent.

For my activist project, I wanted to create a documentary film encompassing the inequalities women have faced in  the professional work environment. The three sisters tells us their stories of the challenges they faced while reaching the top. All three of them, born a few years apart from one another, offer a different and unique narrative of the challenges and inequalities they faced during their professional life. These included sexual harassment, lewd and derogatory name calling, and bias for job promotions.

Their stories were of the classic rags-to-riches, in which they had to marry young, give birth to many children, abandoned, and left to work odd jobs just to scrape by. They came from a background where education was not a priority, in which their parents only had a few years of high school education. The three each had to work, take care of their children as single mothers, all while being discriminated against for trying to survive in a “man’s” world. But they never gave up. After years and years of hard work and consistency, they became the head of their departments, collectively contributing over 100 years in the Federal Government.

I think I accomplished in making an excellent narrative of the sisters’ struggles as they went from dirt bottom to wealth. I only wish I could follow my original plan in sharing and spreading this documentary. I thought my project to be important because despite decades of fighting for women’s rights and equality, we still see similar forms of discrimination in all aspects of women’s lives – especially in the paid workforce. It seems patriarchy is always evolving to maintain the power relations, for what is a man without the notion of an oppressed woman? Although I hear many stories and accomplishments of feminists around the world, I know none better than my grandmother and her sisters. To see how strong of will these women are to endure everything they did, through situations where normal people would have given up, and to still be sane. I look up to them.

I found this video during my initial research for my documentary and I found it very interesting how Steve Horwitz seems to completely miss the point of the issue. His explanation of the $.75 to a man’s $1.00 is simply, that men and women invest in different human capital. This “because we choose to pursue something is what we get paid for” argument is very flawed in that he ignores all the ways in which women are coerced into pursuing things that are identifiably female. The ways in which there are social cues to deter men and women from particular aspects of society to construct the very notion of masculinity and femininity. Kind of like Judith Butler’s concept of gender performitivity.

Although I am disappointed in that Dr. Drabinski will be the only person able to watch the documentary, I consider it a success that even one person could watch it. Other than that, every other aspect of this project went smoothly and according to plan. The lighting was perfect, the responses to my questions were fantastic, and the audio from the interview was clear and consistent.

This project changed how I thought of activism and allowed me to realize the activisms of everyday life. Before joining this class I didn’t really think or know about activism – of course I knew what an activism was, but it was just something abstract in the back of my mind that I never paid any attention to. I do have to admit that when I heard the term ‘activism’ or ‘activist’ before this class, the only image that came to mind was of protests and angry raging individuals. What Dr. Drabinski taught us about activism is that the little things count too; all activisms don’t necessarily have to be the radical transformation of a social structure, but it is even the awareness raising that makes a difference.

 

 

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