For girls born after women were appointed to the Supreme Court, sexual harassment is not tolerated in the workplace, and females always competed in school sports. So for them, “Makers: Women Who Make America” is a history lesson.
The three-hour special that airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday on OETA-13 is naturally not just for younger women. It is for everyone — those who relished victories whenever women won higher office, experienced fury when colleagues made sexual advances or were frustrated when schools allocated money only for boys sports.
It's for males and females — those who suffered the indignities and fought to change the world and those for whom the ERA is only a baseball stat. Meryl Streep narrates the film, which should be required in any course about 20th-century America. Additional information is available at www.makers.com.
The program features the accounts of famous leaders of the women's movement such as Gloria Steinem and Marlo Thomas as well as interviews with the first woman on the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and lesser-known women including Barbara Burns, one of the first female coal miners.
This film, eight years in the making, reminds us how many strides have been made in the past 50 years when popular culture reinforced that women existed to serve men. Women were expected to use their education — until they married.
“I was pregnant by the time I graduated and hung my diploma over the washing machine,” author Judy Blume says on camera.
Interviews reveal chapters in the not-so-distant American past, such as this chilling one from retired Justice O'Connor.
“At the law school there was a bulletin board, and it had notices on it from many law firms. ‘Stanford Law graduates give us a call.' I called every phone number on the bulletin board, and they said, ‘Oh, we didn't mean women. We don't hire women.'”
When airlines did, stewardesses, as they were then called, had to be between 21 and 28 years old, 5 feet 2 to 5 feet 6 inches tall, and show their legs to get the job. At 32, they were handed roses and retired. Not surprisingly, in 1965, the stewardesses became the first case of the newly formed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.