‘Feminists: What Were They Thinking?’ | Netflix Documentary Review

By Daniel Hart
Published: October 11, 2018 (Last updated: October 15, 2018)


Feminists: What Were They Thinking? provides a series of events told through the experiences of women in an insightful and informative way.

Netflix documentary Feminists: What Were They Thinking? has arrived on the streaming platform at a time where a sober reminder is necessary. October 2018 will be sadly remembered for the failed #HimToo movement invading social media for no purposeful reason but to disrupt an unstoppable force. For some reason, men and their mothers grabbed Twitter and hailed them for their achievements whilst also implying that they fear to go on solo dates in danger of false accusations. This sorry state of affairs was coupled with the Celebrity-in-Chief claiming that it is a “scary time for men” before lumbering his sweaty orange self into a helicopter.

The absurdity of the response to the #MeToo movement is the reason why this documentary is absolutely important. Feminists: What Were They Thinking? is an archive of stories told by women, articulating their real experiences and how they have handled their life as a feminist. The documentary is not serving activism that attacks, but rather serving a reminder of how we have gotten to where we are now, and how we continue to fight for what is right.

The Netflix feature has some moments of thought behind the material. I immediately became a little dumbfounded when it compared a women’s march in 2017 versus 1978, and I was astounded at how oddly similar they were. The events described are much more important, as Feminists: What Were They Thinking? gives the women a voice as they detail their struggle, rather than carving a feature that overlaps the objective with a narrator.

Feminists: What Were They Thinking? if anything shows that change will continue to happen regardless of the unjust resistance. There is an inevitability in the women’s voices that the future of feminism will get stronger, not weaker. As Susan Brownmiller asks “why do women have to smile all the time?” it reminded me of the number of times I have seen men question an actress’s facial expression in Hollywood. The Netflix documentary shows darker times accompanied by lighter opportunities, not women who are afraid to speak up. The women discuss their bodies, freedom, family, careers and the stigma behind feminism, but despite the stories described, I felt an air of confidence that shines brighter than the shocking historic events.

Of course, I would be foolish to believe that we are near to achieving peaceful equality, and the Netflix documentary confirms we are still far away from that common-sense ideal, but what you will get from Feminists: What Were They Thinking? is a timeline that will enable the unaware viewer to understand the need for this activism to remain alive until we reach that goal.

As I continue to feel discouraged at the nonsense of the #HimToo movement, my hope is that I look back at this review in the future and laugh at how we temporarily lived in some kind of weird dystopian world where men believed they needed more protection than women in society. Feminists: What Were They Thinking? is not an eye-opener like Seeing Allred but it is certainly useful and informative.

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