In a quote widely attributed to Voltaire, the pen name of french Candide writer François-Marie Arouet, I find a guideline and applicable tenet.
The translation I first read on a small piece of paper (either a fortune cookie or from one on those food for though jars):
I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
It is not a particularly popular montre in our country today, although it could be argued that our nation is based on such idealistic notions.
It came to mind most recently as I watched the first two parts of the MAKERS documentary online. The tenet was folded into the section where a group of conservatives (successfully) rallied to prevent ratification of the Equal Right Amendment, after it was passed both houses of Congress in 1972.
The documentary allowed these voices to be heard, showing interviews of Phyllis Schlafly and other women who united to defeat the amendment that reads:
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
The organizing forces of the MAKERS documentary made the important decision to include interviews of these women, instead of showing old photographs with commentary from defeated feminist activists.
However, much like the popular myth of non-biased news, heavy with hidden influential opinions, this documentary of the second wave feminist movement made sure to lay a heavy disapproving hand on (Ms.) Schlafly. Voices in the film call her a hypocrite, saying she herself was a feminist, pointing out the many flaws of her anti-feminist platform.
So here is where the disapproval folds in again. From my part. Applause for including these voices, but couldn’t we just leave it at that? Let the viewers think for themselves, given an even-handed account. I understand, the documentary is about the movement.
So, omit those opposing voices if need be, that would be the honest view. Don’t lay out a guise of objectivity only to come back with a disapproving rebuttal. The discrediting commentary on these conservative women was unnecessary, and anti-feminist.
Any viewer who would come to the conclusion that these women did a great disservice to our nation in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment, would do so without the character attacks to the movement leader(s). It takes away from what otherwise is a beautiful and inspiring film.
On another note, about originality. In an interview on Democracy Now, the executive producer of MAKERS, Betsy West, talked about the film. She highlighted a story about a telephone company worker who sued when they would not hire her to perform higher paying work. This position would have required lifting 30 lbs., a reason given by the company for not hiring women. Any woman who has held a baby can do that! This is the paraphrased assertion by Ms. West in the interview. It is the same, almost word-for-word comment from the film.
What is this if not some version of political spin? Pick a catch phrase and embed it in the collective consciousness. Come on women. We are better than these tricks. We have the power to be innovative, creative and honest. We do not need to, and in fact are done a disservice by, recreating the climate of other corrupt political lobbies and special interests.
The women’s movement was catapulted by unique creative collaboration. Let’s move that forward and do justice to all those who came before us. Let the women decide for themselves. Let each thought be creative. Speaking candidly: Repetition is dangerous when your eyes are on change.