You couldn't ask for a more inclusive account of the women's liberation movement than She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. By using the voices of those who were there, including the late journalist Ellen Willis, director Mary Dore focuses on the 1960s and 1970s before taking a brief look at recent attempts to dismantle the progress those women made.
For the founders of the National Organization for Women, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) provided the spark. Other participants came from the civil rights and antiwar movements, so they had organizing experience behind them. They spoke out for reproductive rights and equal opportunities, but those who didn’t fit the straight, white, middle-class mold didn’t always feel welcome. Asks Frances Beal of the Black Women's Liberation Committee: “How do you integrate race, class, and gender?" For fearless author Rita Mae Brown, it meant calling out NOW on its homophobia (they responded by kicking her out of the group). Fortunately, the whole proved greater than the sum of its many working parts.
Instead of the usual folkies, the soundtrack features thematically appropriate artists like Bikini Kill and Cat Power, possibly to help attract younger viewers. Let’s hope it works, as this is vital history—and the fight is far from over.