By Claire Goldberg
If this week (or any week) has you particularly down on men, then my best advice is to channel that hatred or anger into inspiration. Luckily there is Amazon Studios’ new show, “Good Girls Revolt”, about a group of women in the ’60s who are just about as inspiring as you can get
In the first episode of the series, the viewer is introduced to the staff of the fictional “News of the Week” magazine, which is split between the male “reporters” and the female “researchers.” The men are literally seated above the women in a separate, upper-area of the room. But the women are the ones who are doing most of the actual interviewing and writing, even though the men get all the credit. And to complicate matters, romantic relationships find their way into workplace dynamics, some warranted, some not. All of this plays out in an environment that is obviously unstable, soon to be unraveled.
Nora Ephron is a new hire who acts as every woman’s subconscious, telling her that she is just as good as the men, that she deserves a byline, and that they shouldn’t be working for less when they’re doing so much more. In the final scene of the episode, Wick, the boss at the magazine, tells the newsroom that a story re-write “hits the bullseye.” Nora reveals that she wrote it, and Wick tries to shut her down by her by telling her that women don’t get to write stories, and that it’s not in their policy to print pieces by women. So, like any supposed “good girl” would do, she quits the job and tells the other women that she’s going to go somewhere where she can write.
One of the most important aspects of the show lies in the contrasting body language of the men and women at the magazine. One of the reporters stands with his arms crossed, towering over the women standing two steps below him. And when one of the men tries to figure out where his researcher/love interest, Patti, has gone, he puts his arm in front of one of the women, physically blocking her from leaving until she tells him what he wants. Men’s body language is still one of the most prominent ways we see sexism in society. Whether it’s being stuck between two men spreading their legs with arms outstretched on public transportation, or being towered over and literally talked down to by a mansplainer, this happens to women all the time.
Right now, we can use a reminder that men don’t always win. “Good Girls Revolt” is ultimately about the women filing a lawsuit against the men in the newsroom for gender discrimination, and winning. It’s about the fact that throughout history, women have shown to be just as good, if not better, than men at leadership, writing, arguing and a whole lot of other skills that men can’t claim for their own. That’s a message I am holding onto.
In the show, men won for a long time, but once women realized how much better they were, and how imperative their work was, they started winning. And after this week, the women of America need to understand exactly that. Once we see just how smart and talented we are, the men will see it too, and they won’t be able to keep us down much longer.