Tag Archives: women

Review of Hidden Figures 

15 Feb

Usually, when a movie comes out about historically important women, my excitement is tinged with some trepidation. So often, these kinds of movies are about exceptional women – geniuses or rebels – and they are presented as the exceptions. “Can you believe that a woman did this?” the undercurrent asks. “Isn’t she so brave and unique and so unlike all of those incredibly ordinary women?” As if womankind has only ever had a few moments in history where she was worthy of notice and respect. 

Hidden Figures is not like that. 

There is certainly the genius, Katherine G Johnson, who the entire story is centered around. And all three of the main characters are in some way exceptional. 

But rather than constantly gasping at the heroines’ braveness and intelligence as if that’s the only thing that makes them worthy of being the eye of a movie, Hidden Figures humanizes them. It frames their efforts to overcome injustices not as the sacrifice they must make to overcome their inherent ordinariness, but instead as the ordinary travails of a black woman’s life. It tells the story from the characters’ perspective, pulling the viewers in by reminding us that we have at least 99% of our DNA in common. Black female geniuses want to be happy, it says, and happiness is not transcending gender and race in order to find a partner or do a great job, but encompassing gender and race in the process. A woman can be intelligent and also want to be a great wife and mother, it says. A black woman can be black and also want to be recognized for her accomplishments. 
A black woman can be a black woman and also have white women and men cheering her on. 

Mother’s Day

11 May

Think Mother’s Day is the only holiday celebrated in America without a controversy behind it? Think again:

“As early as the 1850s, West Virginia women’s organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis held Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination, according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College.

The groups also tended wounded soldiers of both sides during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865, she added.[…]

Anna Jarvis’s idea of an intimate Mother’s Day quickly became a commercial gold mine centering on the buying and giving of flowers, candies, and greeting cards—a development which deeply disturbed Jarvis.  […] ‘A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world,’ Jarvis once said.”

This Mother’s Day, I’m going to be thinking about what mothering really means, not just because I’m 7 months into my own journey of motherhood (yep, I’m having a baby) but also because, while individual mothers should absolutely be adored and celebrated, there is so much more to mothering than the actions of individuals.  Motherhood is still regarded as an inferior and unimportant aspect of life in many parts of the world, yet none of us would be here without it.