The public history of American working women has been greatly enriched in the past few years by the release of three important films: Julia Reichert and Miles Mogulescu’s Union Maids (1976); Lyn Goldfarb and Lorraine Gray’s With Babies and Banners (1978); and, most recently, Connie Field’s The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (1980). The two earlier films have already proven to be classroom favorites, but all three have also reached the non-academic public through community showings, theatrical distribution, and television airings. Their broad and continuous distribution is significant because these films are effective vehicles for multiple radical messages: class struggle, labor militancy, and feminism. Precisely because they have won such a strong following, it is appropriate to look at the issues raised by the use of film in public history generally—and by these films particularly.
Film has the advantages of flexibility and accessibility for feminists and other radical filmmakers bent on providing a corrective to mainstream history and on reaching a wide audience. Feminists have naturally used film because it can help to fill the still-gigantic gaps in public awareness of women’s past. But the use of film poses a number of challenges. There are the problems intrinsic to all documentary filmmaking: fundraising, distribution, the translation of factual material into visual form which is both informative and entertaining.1 More important for leftists are the intellectual and political issues raised by recent radical and feminist historiography and film criticism. Although film critics and filmmakers are more concerned with questions of form and historians with those of content, the difference is one of degree rather than kind. Radicals in both groups share a common commitment to demystifying the past and fostering a critical consciousness in the public.
However, these two goals can put them at cross-purposes, for experimental film techniques often go down badly with popular audiences. With this in mind, the makers of radical public history documentaries have tended to be less formally experimental than other radical filmmakers, focusing primarily on content and apparently assuming that a suitable film style would arise more or less naturally from the subject matter itself. But this approach often lapses into an updated form of socialist realism, with all of its attendant problems. To the extent that they move beyond this, the three films under review here succeed in transforming the conventional left documentary film into a vehicle for a new kind of public history. Before evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, let us first look more closely at the challenge posed by a radical cultural critique.
In response to the thrust of Marxist cultural criticism, radical filmmakers and critics have long been concerned with the problem of ideology. Briefly, they have been critical of the ways in which mass culture reinforces hegemony, but they have also understood that false consciousness cannot be dissolved in the mode of socialist realism, by simple assertions of “the truth.” Rather, they have attempted to understand how the medium of film serves to reproduce ideology—how it works on its audience, so that they may then devise ways to offset this effect; they have sought to learn how an audience comes to question what is presented to it, so that they can create films which foster not certainty but a critical consciousness.2 In this sense, the problem of radical filmmakers is not dissimilar to that faced by radical historians and teachers who come to believe that they have their own insights to communicate, but also want their students to learn to reach independent conclusions through a critical process.
The filmmaker’s project is both easier and more difficult. Easier insofar as film is a “lazier” medium than books, essays, or lectures: viewers needn’t read or take notes; they can just sit back and let it all happen to them.3 But more difficult because filmmaker must then compensate for the propensity of film to generate a sense of reality (and hence credibility) through its immediacy, sensuousness, and naturalizing tendencies. While producers of mass culture exploit this propensity, certain radical filmmakers and critics have attempted to counteract it. In documentary films, this effort has taken the form of montage, cinéma vérité, and, most recently, the self-reflexive techniques inspired by Brecht and first worked out cinematically by Jean-Luc Godard.4
Self-reflexive films continually interrogate themselves and undermine the grounds of their own credibility. By exposing the conditions of production, such films demystify their origins and point to the filmmakers’ role in the production of meaning. They use a variety of techniques such as multiple discourses, disrupted sequences, slowed or speeded-up pace, non-matching sound tracks and visuals, unanticipated shot angles and the like to jar the perceptions of the spectator and denaturalize what occurs on the screen. The spectator is forced to play an active role not only in interpreting the film but in constructing its very meaning by piecing together disparate, incomplete, incongruous, or contradictory images and sounds.5 Although the filmmaker controls the selection and arrangement of audio-visual elements, the spectator is finally responsible for creating cinematic meaning.
One of the chief objections raised against this film style—by radicals as often as anyone else—is that it often surpasses the ability, not to say the willingness, of the audience to do its part. Instead of raising critical consciousness, it can foster anything from cacaphony to derision. Feminist film critics have been particularly responsive to this objection, for they are faced with a dilemma. On the one hand, feminist politics call for democratic, anti-elitist practice in art as in anything else. On the other, feminist film theory at its most radical rejects conventional discourse as “phallocentric” and calls for the construction of an entirely new cinematic language—a project which, like any form of avant-garde art, tends to exclude to the extent that it succeeds.6 A solution to this dilemma proposed by one student of feminist films is to construct an audience along with the new language.7 This can be done through extra-cinematic materials such as reviews, critical essays, and panel discussions of film theory, but this presupposes a self-conscious, highly-motivated—probably academic—audience. More practical, and more to the point for public history filmmakers, would be a process of immanent education through the use of increasingly sophisticated techniques in films which, intentionally or not, form a series and thus create their own public.8
The three films under review here may be said to comprise such a series, not because they were actually designed to do so but because they attract a common audience through shared subject matter. While all three contribute to the same branch of public history, each has a distinct focus. Union Maids treats the history of women in the trade union movement, primarily in the 1930s; Babies and Banners recreates the role women played in the UAW sit-down strike of 1937; Rosie the Riveter illuminates the experience of women in the industrial work force during World War II. The three films share form as well as content: they all employ a technique which has been labelled, somewhat disparagingly, as “talking heads”—that is, women speaking into the camera—but do so in a way that film critic Julia Lesage has identified as particularly feminist.9 Lorraine Gray has said that she sought an “in the kitchen atmosphere” in Babies and Banners where “women talk to each other over a cup of coffee and get down to the real nitty-gritty of what their feelings are. . . . ”10 This technique becomes progressively complex in the three films, so that viewers who have seen all of them will not only learn a great deal of history, but will also become more critical watchers of films. Nevertheless, there are problems in all three which illustrate some of the difficulties inherent in turning history into cinema, and into feminist cinema.
The “talking head” technique links these films to two separate epistemological codes or sources—that of oral history and that of the consciousness-raising group. Lesage, in an essay on feminist documentaries, notes that “the structure of the consciousness-raising group becomes the deep structure repeated over and over.” This effect is the result of the fact that the filmmakers identify closely with their subjects, participate (sometimes with their subjects) in the women’s movement, and make films with political, feminist intentions. In each of the three films discussed here, the presence of the filmmakers is seen or heard at some point. This acknowledgment of the filmmakers serves several purposes: it deconstructs the question of “authorship” of the film—and thus of any illusion that the subjects are simply speaking spontaneously; and, according to Lesage, it creates or recreates the sense of mutual discourse, of having one’s experience validated by telling it to someone else who is interested in hearing it—a phenomenon central to feminism and a frequent by-product of oral history.11 At the same time, the dialogue between filmmaker and subject valorizes the subject as an expert on, at least, her own experience.
Lesage contends that the effect of women telling their stories goes beyond mere “talking heads” in another important sense: the strength of a sound track full of women’s voices
lies not only in having strong women tell about their lives but even more in our hearing and having demonstrated that some women have deliberately altered the rules of the game of sexual politics.12
Thus they constitute themselves not only as subjects—as actors in their own lives—but simultaneously as actors in history and in feminist politics, and as subject/actors in cinema.
Once women are so constituted, their discourse becomes privileged in the film; that is, we are led to believe what they have to say and to credit it above any other. Of the three films, Rosie makes the most sophisticated use of this hierarchy of discourse. In several sequences, Field intercuts clips from March of Time propaganda films depicting women’s wartime industrial work as safe, pleasant, and harmonious with testimony from her subjects detailing workplace hazards, discrimination (both racial and sexual), childcare problems and the like. Even without the critical commentary of the subjects, alert viewers might be predisposed to take a critical stance toward these excerpts, for their saccharine tone belies a euphemistic intent; the hierarchy of discourse in the film makes this position unavoidable.
From a historian’s point of view, however, these privileged subjects can become problematic if a film limits its perspective by relying on them as the sole or even primary informants. While oral history subjects are frequently both engaging and uniquely informative, their accounts of historical events or periods can be partial, fragmentary, idiosyncratic, and sometimes—deliberately or unintentionally—misleading. Precisely because of their position within the situations they are describing, participants seldom regard events with the dispassion required for historical synthesis or interpretation.13
The writer can overcome this difficulty more gracefully than the filmmaker. Writing, a historian can incorporate material from oral history interviews in an interpretive article or provide a synthetic introduction to an unbroken oral history narrative, thus granting oral history its due while situating it within a range of historical discourses. But it is clumsy, not to say condescending, for a filmmaker to cut from the “talking head” of a historical actor to that of an “expert.”14 Rather, the documentarist must devise cinematic techniques for locating informants’ testimony both critically and circumstantially within a larger historical context.
These three films illustrate some of the ways this can be done. All use montages of contemporary footage (and, in the case of Rosie, mass media graphics as well) to depict both the general mood of the country and the specific events or phenomena being discussed by the subjects. Such sequences provide a sense of the texture of the period—the look of the material culture—as well as the atmosphere of working-class life: plant interiors, machinery, assembly lines; picket lines; the faces of bosses and policemen. Yet all of these are external, surface. When the subjects speak of their experience, describing their responses and feelings, they not only add a dimension of intimacy to the account, but they implicitly set up an interrogation of the public by the private—often of the male perspective by the female.
Because these juxtapositions offer a compelling view of the history of personal life, it seems legitimate to ask how representative are the subjects chosen. The codes of journalistic interviewing ordinarily lead an audience to conclude that, unless some specific identification is made, people being questioned about a particular event are typical of the population involved. Filmmakers must come to terms with this phenomenon of implicit typicality in selecting their subjects, especially when making public history films. This task raised different issues in each of the documentaries here.
The women in Babies and Banners were apparently chosen at random from those who had belonged to the Women’s Emergency Brigade in the 1937 sit-down strike, supposedly representing the age, race, and marital status of Brigade members. Yet Lillian Hatcher, the only Black woman in the film, was married to a man who actually worked at Chrysler, not GM. The film is dominated by Genora Dollinger, who was clearly a leader in 1937 and continues to play a principal role as she leads a confrontation with the UAW on behalf of women’s issues in 1977. She seems well-known to the other women being interviewed, suggesting that perhaps they were part of an inner leadership group. If this were the case, their account of the Brigade would take on a certain caste—legitimate enough, if it were made clear. But since Gray and Goldfarb never clarify their principles of selection, the status of their subjects’ accounts remains in question.15
There is a better match between selection and intention in Union Maids. Two of the three women who relate their experiences in some detail were among those interviewed first by Staughton and Alice Lynd for their book, Rank and File.16 Their self-described commitment and life-long activism lend these women a certain celebrity, an implicit a-typicality—an impression which is reinforced by their near-total silence on certain issues like work/family tensions and sex-role conflicts which usually crop up in working women’s accounts. But since they never claim to describe the general experience of women in the 1930s or even that of most female labor activists, they do not create a false sense that their lives were typical. Accepting this qualification means, however, that the filmmakers must also accept a certain limitation in the scope of their project and its potential for inspiring identification by vast numbers of women with similar experiences.
Rosie seemingly seeks the opposite effect, presenting women who, although few in number, vary in many ways. Its filmmakers interviewed some 700 women and then chose five to be filmed, ostensibly because they represented the whole population of working women (or at least the sample interviewed). But the results are somewhat misleading. Of the five, three are Black, one Jewish, one white Protestant; three worked in California, one in the Midwest, and one in New York. While there was a substantial amount of war industry all over the country (the South is the one area notably missing here), the disproportionate geographic distribution is not as far off as the racial (im)balance: although Black women were disproportionately represented in the work force both before and during the war, they still comprised only about 11% of the total female work force at its peak in 1944.17 All five women apparently were or had been married (one was a widow), four had children and all were working-class. While it is true that wartime employment drew more married women into the work force than ever before, there was still a sizeable percentage of single women whose experience is not represented here, except in clips from propaganda films. Likewise, Field interviewed no middle-class “Rosies.” It is necessary to understand their responses—especially those who had never held jobs before the war—for their experience was an important part of the feminism which finally emerged in the 1960s.
By concentrating on married, working-class women, Field apparently intended to dispel the myth that the wartime work force consisted primarily of middle-class women who didn’t really need jobs and were more than willing to give them up when the war was over. She shows how this impression was created at the time by using clips from a March of Time film in which several women attest that it is not only their patriotic duty but their heartfelt desire to yield their jobs to deserving vets as soon as the war ended. (At a recent screening of Rosie, Lola Weixel wryly commented that since many of the jobs only came into being with the growth of defense industries, they hadn’t belonged to men before the war—and wouldn’t exist after.) Although a 1944 Women’s Bureau survey contradicts the notion that these sentiments were predominant (75% of the women interviewed wanted to continue working after the war), a significant number of women did want to go home, and their consciousness should have been explored as well.18
The lack of a critical context becomes even more problematic with regard to the three films’ elucidation of the political dimension of working women’s experience. Providing only the testimony of their subjects, all three leave the impression that much of women’s activism occurred in something of a political vacuum. In Babies and Banners, for example, all the women are wearing—significantly—red berets, but while several mention receiving training and organizing assistance from both the Communist and Socialist Parties, they neither affirm nor deny membership in either. Given the long history of sectarian tensions in the UAW, one is left wondering how this played itself out with regard to the Brigade.19 Similarly, the political affiliations of the three subjects in Union Maids are never fully clarified, although Kate Hyndman brings out 1950s newspaper clippings of articles redbaiting her. In Rosie, two of the subjects delimit the political topography of the 1940s: Lola Weixel frequently refers to herself as a “working person” with “progressive ideas”; not surprisingly, she led efforts to organize her welding shop for the United Electrical Workers. Her euphemisms contrast markedly with an anecdote related by Lyn Childs: when her shipyard boss accuses her of being a “commie,” she unhesitatingly affirms that if sticking up for a fellow worker meant being a commie, then by golly, she was!
Such references to anti-communism suggest that many of the people interviewed in these films may have been reluctant to discuss openly their political pasts. Yet at least one “union maid,” Stella Nowicki, had already related her activities as a member of the Young Communist League and the Communist Party in Rank and File. This indicates that it may have been the choice of the filmmakers, not the subjects, to omit information about the left. Whatever the reasons, all three films leave a rather confused impression of the links between the left and the labor movement, a connection which is a central concern of twentieth-century labor historians. The dilemma for radical filmmakers who rely on oral history subjects for the content of their work is to avoid reproducing political mystification while respecting and safeguarding the integrity of their subjects.
The three films raise another set of questions about the politics of film: the presentation of women on the screen. According to one school of thought, any cinematic representation of women within patriarchal culture inevitably constitutes them as objects of desire.20 Lesage disagrees with this position, arguing that it is possible to “decolonize women’s sexuality,” to overcome objectification, through the presentation of female subjectivity, especially with regard to their own sexuality and physicality.21 The three films considered here shed some light on this debate.
The subjects of all three are women in their late 50s or older; according to the dominant patriarchal code governing female sexuality, these women are almost automatically de-sexualized on the basis of age alone.22 But by discussing issues of sexuality in their pasts, they re-sexualize themselves, this time in a particularly feminist way which simultaneously calls attention to the narrowness of the patriarchal code and evokes their sexuality from a subjective perspective. This process is paralleled on the visual level, reaching a high degree of complexity in Rosie. Field sets up a tripartite interrogation of women’s visual representation: the mass-culture iconography of the 1940s, illustrated by propaganda film clips and magazine graphics; candid photographs of both the subjects themselves and other women taken during the period; and images of the subjects today. The subjects first appear in the present, commenting on their wartime experience; they are established as individuals—as historical actors—before we see them as young women. Timed otherwise, these images might have the effect of validating the patriarchal code of female beauty (only attractive young women are worth attending to—and even then, not to be taken seriously), but as assembled here, they serve to interrogate the code by making viewers aware of changes in individual physical appearance which inevitably occur over time.
The film also draws attention to the relationship between women and mass culture. The wartime photos indicate that each woman in her own way followed fashion and maintained a conventionally “feminine” appearance (at least off the job) while working in defense plants. Such behavior is ordinarily regarded as evidence of the hegemony of mass culture—women under the influence of advertising and marketing. Feminine style, moreover, is usually associated with fragility and vulnerability. Yet the recollections of these women affirm their actual strength and independence during this period. The duality between appearance and reality suggests that women followed fashion out of their own choice. Wanita Allen comments that while some people saved as much as they could (memories of the Depression still vivid), she spent money on anything she could find; her voice is heard over a photo of herself sitting in a night club, a fur stole draped proudly over one shoulder and a sparkling smile on her lips. For Allen, spending money on expensive clothing and jewelry was an outward sign of her new-found economic independence. She was not a “conspicuous consumer” in Veblen’s sense, for she was not parading her husband’s wealth, but rather enjoying the fruits of her own labor.
In providing this sort of insight into the meaning of women’s wartime jobs, Rosie marks another point in the progression of films about women and work, a broadening of their scope. Union Maids began by following the contours of conventional labor history, fitting women into previously established categories. Yet even while it was doing so, the film implicitly challenged and transformed those categories. Its three subjects established beyond question that women were crucial in day-to-day shopfloor struggles in the 1930s. For workers, management and the labor movement alike, it was not immaterial that these militant actions were undertaken by women. However, the subjects tell us little about what difference work and politics made in their personal lives. Except for brief references to their childhoods, they give the impression of having spent their entire lives at work or in union activities. Moreover they maintain an almost Victorian silence on the question of sexuality and the labor struggle. While it is important to affirm women’s identity as workers and as activists, it would seem to be a capitulation to a patriarchal form of economism to assume that women in these roles have the same experience as men. By focusing only on discrimination against women by management, Union Maids cannot account for the ways in which family life and patriarchal ideology and culture also situate women within the work force.
Babies and Banners takes the analysis one step further, although because its scope is limited to a single event, the film does not fully explore the relationship between union activism and the rest of women’s experience and gives only scant attention to women as workers in their own right. Its chief contribution is in exposing the union’s role in perpetuating male domination, showing how, as a bastion of male culture, it encouraged social as well as occupational divisions between the sexes. Flint, as one Brigade woman acerbically describes it, was a town of churches and bars—churches to console the women while their men lined the bars. A double standard was clearly at work: women who dared enter union halls risked their reputations, yet the union was not above using women as buffers between all-male picket lines and the police, relying on the latter’s deference to the “fair sex.” (Ironically, as the film shows, the women were not as innocent as they appeared; they were all armed with blackjacks fastened by garters under their sleeves!) Once the UAW strike had been won, however, patriarchy reasserted itself, and the Women’s Emergency Brigade was dispersed and sent home.
The film attempts to show that the Brigade had unintended consequences—that, once organized, its members developed a new sense of themselves and felt more important. As one woman put it, the red beret they all wore became “the symbol of a new woman who was ready to make sacrifices and could be counted on”; another felt that the actions of the Brigade gave men a “different outlook on the ordinary housewife.” But it is unclear that this new consciousness produced major changes in these women’s lives at home, at work, or in the UAW. Bringing the struggle up to date, the film concludes with Genora Dollinger’s impassioned speech at the reunion commemorating the 40th anniversary of the strike in 1977. She recalls the courage of the Women’s Emergency Brigade and then calls upon the union to support the ERA and encourage and allow women greater representation within its ranks. While dramatic, her speech has the ring of “automatic feminism,” for the film leaves a large gap between the 30s and the present which rhetoric alone cannot fill.
Rosie expands the framework of working women’s history in several directions. It explores labor market segregation by sex and race, showing that women were generally given inferior job assignments in defense industries, and black women relegated to the most menial sweeping and cleaning jobs which had been held by black men before the war. The film makes no direct comment on unions’ policies toward women either during the war or in the postwar demobilization of labor. However, the job segregation of these women in defense industries and their subsequent job histories (all five returned to lower-paid, unskilled or semi-skilled work, mainly in the pink-collar sector) stands as mute testimony to trade union failures to defend them in a job market structured by capitalist patriarchy.23
Both the subjects and creators of Rosie seem to have understood that working women’s experience is not constituted by the worker-management-union triangle alone, but that personal and social issues also intervene and must be explored simultaneously. More than its predecessors, this film attempts to provide a fuller view of women’s work in its personal context. Lola Weixel’s account of the housework she did after a full day of welding, while her brother-in-law lay on the couch listening to jazz records, is a vivid example of the “double day” put in by most female war workers. Margaret Wright provides another version, telling how she returned home after finishing the night shift in time to wake her children, bathe and feed them, do the laundry, and fix a meal for her husband, who worked days. There is visible emotion in Lyn Child’s face as she describes leaving her small daughter with her mother when she came to Oakland to work in the shipyard because a lack of housing and child care facilities made it impossible for her to keep the child with her. Wanita Allen is also critical of the lack of child care services, concluding that they were probably available only to middle-class women, and inconveniently located (especially given gas and tire rationing) at that. A frequent theme in wartime articles about female employment is the opposition some women had to face from their husbands. The four married women in Rosie, because they had all worked before the war, recall no tension between themselves and their men; defense jobs were not only taken for granted but actually celebrated, since they brought in much higher wages. What all the women do note, however, is their regret over losing jobs that were satisfying as well as lucrative. And finally, both the narratives and images from contemporary footage and graphics testify to the increasing importance of female camaraderie and homosexuality during the war, phenomena that developed as women’s isolation in the home (either as housewives or domestic workers) was broken down through their concentration in industry. The overall effect of war time work on women’s personal lives was, then, ambiguous: on the other hand, it produced greater strains on them and their families; on the other, it fostered individual self-confidence and self-consciousness as a social group. Both tendencies were, of course, to play themselves out in the postwar decades.
All three films leave many questions unanswered. They tend to lack specificity: dates, names, and places are either absent or hard to determine; connections between events are unclear. In some cases, omissions or misrepresentations were, apparently, deliberate. Lyn Goldfarb has been quoted as saying, “there was always a tension between what was historically accurate and what was visually best. We felt obligated to set the record straight, but we also wanted to be appealing.”24 Daniel Leab, reviewing Babies and Banners in Labor History, criticizes the film for numerous inaccuracies, concluding it is “bad history,” but then defends it as “splendid ‘agit-prop’, an excellent look at the past from a feminist perspective, a consciousness-raising document of the first order. The film well deserves all the accolades it has received . . . as a film.”25 Leab’s distinction between historical documentary and “agit-prop” (especially used in the neutral sense he does) is dangerous. Such cynicism legitimizes films which simply replace one ideology with another, “correctness” being determined by politics instead of historical accuracy. Only viewers with prior knowledge will be the wiser.
The effect of such films is quite different from those in which contradictions and gaps are immanent, those which, by themselves, stimulate critical consciousness and provoke viewers to consider the issues raised and seek further. Of the three films considered here, Rosie comes closest to fulfilling this function with its use of contemporary footage in conjunction with oral history and its sophisticated interrogation of female imagery. Incorporating the feminist interview techniques which made Union Maids and Babies and Banners so appealing, it takes the feminist documentary film one step further, pointing to new, important directions for cinematic public history.
I would like to thank Andrea Walsh, Anson Rabinbach and the issue editors, particularly Sue Benson, Steve Brier and Roy Rosenzweig, for comments which helped me clarify a number of points in this review.
1. See Connie Field’s comments on the need for high technical standards in radical films, “Institutional Obstacles to Creativity in Media,” a Round Table with Media Workers, Tabloid 1 (Spring-Summer 1980), 48.
2. For an excellent summary of Marxist discussions of ideology, see Stuart Hall, “Culture, the Media, and the ‘Ideological Effect,’ ” in James Curran, et. al., eds., Mass Communication and Society, London, (1977), 315-48.
3. Roland Barthes, “Rhetoric of the Image,” in Image-Music-Text, trans. Stephen Heath, New York, (1977), 41.
4. Reviews and theoretical discussions of these issues appear in Screen, Jump Cut, Cineaste and other film journals beginning in the late 1960s. For these and other discussions, see Jack Ellis, “Documentary Film Bibliography,” Jump Cut 23 (November 1980), 30-31.
5. Hall, “Culture, the Media,” 326-27; Peter Gidal, “Theory and Definition of Structural/Materialist Film”, in Gidal, ed., Structural Film Anthology, London, (1976), 1-21.
6. For overviews see “Feminism and Film: Critical Approaches,” editorial in Camera Obscura 1 (Fall 1976), 3-10; Christine Gledhill, “Recent Developments in Feminist Film Criticism,” Quarterly Review of Film Studies 3 (Fall 1978), 457-93. A key article is Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Screen 16 (Autumn 1975), 6-18. Lesley Stern discusses the conflicts between feminist film theory and politics in “Feminism and Cinema—Exchanges.” Screen 20 (Winter 1979), 89-105.
7. Stern, “Feminism and Cinema,” 92.
8. Producers of mass media consciously form series when they use a formula derived from one hit film or television program to clone others; but series can also be used for progressive purposes, with educational effects.
9. Julia Lesage, “The Political Aesthetics of the Feminist Documentary Film,” Quarterly Review of Film Studies 3 (Fall 1978), 507-23.
10. Quoted in Jayne Loader, “Flint Sit-down Veterans Speak,” Seven Days, October 13, 1978, 32.
11. Lesage, “Political Aesthetics,” 521.
12. Lesage, “Political Aesthetics,” 521.
13. Lesage notes that “the emphasis on the experiential . . . can sometimes be a political limitation, especially when the film limits itself to the individual and offers little or no analysis or sense of collective process leading to social change,” “Political Aesthetics,” 509. On the relationship between historical actors and historical knowledge, see E. P. Thompson, “The Poverty of Theory or An Orrery of Errors,” in The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays, New York, (1978), 19.
14. A rather ludicrous example of such an effort may be seen in Lee Grant’s Willmar Eight, when a bespectacled young man with a rather pompous manner (identified as a sociologist) is consulted on the effects of a strike by eight female bank employees. His remarks were barely audible over the audience laughter when I saw the film.
15. Daniel Leab, “Writing History on Film: Two Views of the 1937 Strike against General Motors by the UAW,” Labor History 21 (Winter 1979-80), 110-11. See also Susan Reverby, review of “ ‘With Babies and Banners,’ ” Radical America 13 (September-October 1979), 63-69.
16. Staughton and Alice Lynd, Rank and File, Boston (1973).
17. Chester Gregory, Women in Defense Work During World War II, New York, (1974), 4, 144.
18. William Chafe, The American Woman (New York, 1972), 181.
19. Reverby, “ ‘With Babies,’ ” 64.
20. Gledhill, “Recent Developments,” 458-61.
21. Lesage, “Political Aesthetics,” 513.
22. Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, New York, (1961), 541-60.
23. Ruth Milkman, “Organizing the Sexual Division of Labor: Historical Perspectives on ‘Women’s Work’ and the American Labor Movement,” Socialist Review 49 (January-February 1980), 94-150.
24. Quoted in Reverby, “ ‘With Babies,’ ” 66.
25. Leab, “Writing History,” 112.