Posted by: kelsiemccrae | November 9, 2016

Good Girls Revolt

Amazon Prime recently released the entire first season of their new show Good Girls Revolt.  I personally first became hooked on the show’s pilot when it premiered last year. I watched it after reading a review on Vogue.com (published November 10, 2015). Here’s a quick excerpt explaining the show’s premise:

It’s based on a true story.

“The show is based on Lynn Povich’s book, The Good Girls Revolt, which detailed a 1970 lawsuit filed by 46 female employees against Newsweek for gender discrimination. Back in the ’60s, women could be hired only as researchers for the magazine, while men filled all reporting and writing positions.”

The fact that this was based on a true story was what caught my attention, closely followed by the time in which this story takes place.  The 1970’s were a critical time for social change, not only for women but also for the black community.  The show does an excellent job of touching on the major issues of the time: women’s rights, race relations (most notably the presence of the Black Panthers), and the issues faced by Vietnam veterans once they returned from war (a lack of a hero’s welcome, a lack of mental health care, etc.).  In other words, this show has something for everyone.

However, seeing as this blog post is for a course titled Women and Leadership, I’m going to focus on the main issue at hand: how women managed to work their way into the professional world yet continued to be impeded by the expectations set in place by a patriarchal system. These women were trapped in what Eagly and Carli refer to as the Labyrinth.

The protagonist of the series is a young “hippie” researcher for News of the Week, Patti RobinsonAfter the newest researcher, Nora Ephron, is fired because she wrote a story that was set to be published in the magazine, despite the unspoken rule that female employees do not get published with bylines, Patti and her fellow researchers are inspired to make a significant change in the culture of the magazine by filing a claim with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).  They are backed by Eleanor Holmes Norton, a female African-American lawyer and chair of the EEOC, who assures the women that the restrictions placed on them are illegal.

The story itself was groundbreaking because these women put everything on the line to ensure they had equal opportunity to work as journalists and have their work considered on the same level (or on a higher level, in some cases) as their male colleagues. The show also sheds light on other cultural norms many women wished to change at the time.  Themes include attitudes towards sexuality, marriage, and relationships.

When we get down to it, these fictional characters represent real women who paved the way for equal opportunity for women in the workplace.  Though we still have a ways to go in terms of equal pay or balancing work and family obligations, these women serve as examples to women now.  They stood up for themselves when they knew they weren’t being treated fairly, and it is because of women like them we have come as far as we have in the years since their lawsuit.

Sources/Resources:

The first season of Good Girls Revolt is available to stream on Amazon Prime!

Vogue Article about the Pilot Episode: http://www.vogue.com/13369769/good-girls-revolt-pilot-review/

Article from Newsweek (the real life “News of the Week”) commenting on the show and the real lawsuit:  http://www.newsweek.com/good-girls-revolt-legacy-newsweek-lawsuit-512224

Important People:

Lynn Povich (author of “The Good Girls Revolt”) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Povich

Eleanor Holmes Norton (EEOC Chair) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Holmes_Norton

Nora Ephron (journalist/author on which one of the characters is based) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nora_Ephron

 

 

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Responses

  1. I have been seeing promotions for this show recently, I am glad I finally know what its about! I like that shows are being produced that discuss historical events like this. I feel like this is often a part of history that is overlooked as almost taboo. When you think of feminism and changes for women at that time, bra burning and women screaming in the front of picket lines comes to mind. Since taking this class, I have been much more aware of how women are portrayed in all kinds of media, and I’ve noticed how often women take a back seat in movies and TV shows. It sounds like this show has women as the main characters and is about the subject of Women’s rights, which I think is really great.

  2. This show has the potential to be a positive influence for the people who watch it, and proves that despite the odds do not give up on your fight. While reading the book is likely the better option to get a more realistic view of the situation, for some people it is much harder to simply pick up a book. This is a great example of women working to change a business culture in a drastic way, so that women have the same opportunity as the men employed. I think the title of this work is very strongly worded because of the women who took part in the case truly pushed back against the business culture and defied it. Against all odds they fought the system and seemingly won to achieve gender egalitarianism within Newsweek to show that women need to have alliances and work together to achieve better positions in business.

    Disappointing that a woman could be fired in this organization for simply publishing an article/ do her job. Shows that in 50 years women have come a long way.

  3. This show seems interesting! I think this is yet another example of brave women leading the way for young women, like ourselves, to enjoy the rights and opportunities that we have today. It is crazy to think that it wasn’t always like this. I am very grateful and excited at the progress that has come and is continuing to come. Women have so much to offer and I’m so encouraged by what we have seen so far. I do hope that there is a time in which leadership doesn’t have to be so gendered, but I think that will take time. As this shows points out, it’s not that long ago that women were unable to be leaders in the way they are today, which I think plays a large role in why leadership is gendered right now. I don’t think that will always be the case though.

  4. I have to check this show out. It seems like an amazing story that has not been told before with many aspects of it. I bet the women facing the challenges of working in the public eye and trying to better their careers is hard. Working for a newspaper/journal is hard to begin with and then add in the discrimination. We got a big mess then! I hope this show will help our generation realize that we need to still fight for those women who fought for the things we have now. We owe it to them to keep on fighting.

  5. I love history and I love historical reenactments like these so I really want to watch it. But I really think that this would be great for women who think that we have not made strides in the work place…because we really really have. While this is depicting an issue from the 1970’s, I think that this can still relate to some issues that women are facing in the workplace now in terms of facing gender discrimination and not receiving those leadership positions they probably deserve. This is a great example of how women still need to work for those positions and that there is something that they can do to get them.

  6. This show sounds amazing… I’ll definitely have to add it to my watchlist!

    On a more serious (and scholarly) note, this made me think of the celluloid ceiling video. I have to wonder why upper level media positions have been so difficult for women to move into… especially literature-based positions, like writers and journalists. I’m not sure if it is a common connotation, but I tend to perceive those positions as more feminine–or at least, usually more female-based. It could be due to the fact that a lot of the people in my life who have loved literature have been women, and maybe I made that association on my own. Is this something that you all have noticed, or is it just me?

    When I was in high school, I took journalism and photojournalism classes, as well as numerous advanced English courses. I went to the Newseum at least three or four times in the span of those four years. I’m not sure if you have ever been there, but it features a video about Nellie Bly, an American journalist in the 1880s who investigated Blackwell Island (an asylum for women). It stuns me to think that we hadn’t changed so much since Ms. Bly’s career in the 1880s to the 1960s. It reminds me of how so often we have thought that women would be fully equal by now, and yet we are still far from filling an equal number of higher level positions. I suppose we still have a lot of work to do, but it’s great that television shows like this are being made.

  7. This is so interesting! I think it is incredible important that remember the risks women took to break into professional fields like journalism, and the sacrifices and struggles they faced in doing so. As you said, “they put everything on the line”. I haven’t watched any of this series, but from your synopsis it sounds like the show touches on issues that we still face today, but in the form of second generation gender bias. I would love to watch it and see if the creators draw parallels betweent their struggle, and the more subtle struggles women may be facing in the workplace today.


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