(serving Hamilton, Fulton, and Montgomery Counties)
Our Recent Event!
Saturday, April 11th
Jennifer Lee, a writer, speaker and filmmaker, came to speak at FMCC,
JOHNSTOWN – Inspiration for filmmaker Jennifer Lee’s new documentary came from a conversation with another woman.
Lee said she was asked by another woman, “Are you a feminist?” She said the woman’s voice dropped to a whisper as she got to the word “feminist.” When Lee responded, “Yes, I am a feminist,” she said her voice dropped to the same whisper on the same word, causing her to wonder why they were whispering the word.
“I don’t know why I whispered,” Lee said.
This conversation, and a later talk with her mother about her recollections of the time before the feminist movement, led Lee to make a documentary about the movement.
On Saturday, Lee attended a showing of her film “Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation” during a special event at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.
The event, put on by the American Association of University Women, was part of the yearlong HerStory celebration of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 200th birthday anniversary .
Lee said making the film was an almost 10-year process that stretched from 2004 to 2013. She said she funded it almost entirely by herself, with last-minute funds for archival footage coming from a Kickstarter.com campaign. She edited at night depending on her daughter’s schedule.
“I just never stopped because I absolutely knew this needed to be done,” Lee said.
The film focuses on the works of second-wave feminists from 1963 to 1970. The movie discusses events such as the Miss America protests and women taking over the Statue of Liberty. Lee spoke to women from the movement, including Betty Friedan, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Aileen Hernandez and Gloria Steinem, about their stories from the time.
Speaking at a question-and-answer session after the film, Lee said working on the film has moved her to try and get more information about women’s history into education. She said she discovered her daughter’s textbooks barely touch on the movement and only listed one woman who hadn’t even been really involved.
“The negativity towards feminism, I call it a memory hole,” Lee said. “We have a hole in our memory about the women’s liberation movement because it’s not taught. So what has filled out that memory hole are words like ‘feminazi.’ So what pushes out the word ‘feminazi’ are facts around the women’s liberation movement. To me, the answer is filling up that hole with the facts.”
Lee said she wanted the film to be personal and allow women to say what they experienced.
“I consider this film a primer; I wanted to inspire 200 films on feminism that teachers could choose from,” Lee said.
AAUW-NYS Chapter President Edwina Frances Martin came up from New York City after hearing about the event.
“I think it’s an incredible event,” Martin said.
She said she was interested in seeing about the women and the documentation of the fight for equality.
“It’s very important and it’s part of the essence of what the AAUW is about,” Martin said.
Helen Martin, Johnstown’s 3rd Ward councilwoman, said she sees the feminist movement today going back to the suffrage movement. She said it is a modern-day replay of what the suffragettes had been doing.
Helen Martin said there is nothing about the women’s movement in history books and it is not studied in school.
“It’s a hard battle to fight,” she said about getting it into schools.
The next event in the HerStory program will be a luncheon put on by the Women’s Republican Club of Fulton County on May 16 at Lanzi’s on the Lake.
For more information about Lee’s film, go to feministstories.com. For more information about the Amsterdam-Gloversville-Johnstown branch of the AAUW, go to www.adj-ny.aauw.net.