"She's Beautiful When She's Angry" Is a Blueprint for Organizing

On the face of it, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” directed by filmmaker and activist Mary Dore, is a wide-encompassing look at the second wave feminist movement — one that manages to cover a broad range of issues tackled by women between 1966 and 1971, including reproductive rights, sexual liberation, rape consciousness, lesbianism and women’s health.

The result is a realistic picture of a movement that’s often glossed over, whited out or caricatured as a legion of bra-burning ‘feminazis’ with male-directed vengeance on their minds. It was that stereotyped view of the second wave that Mary Dore, a feminist activist and the film’s director, hoped to counter when she first began fundraising for the film 20 plus years ago.

“Many people felt it wasn't relevant or interesting,” says Dore. “The women's movement was somehow not hip, cool, respectable [to them].”

“They” can hardly say that now. As Dore describes it, it’s simply plain luck that the film’s 2014 release coincided with a renewed interest in feminism and, this year, with a perhaps renewed and reinvigorated movement in the Women’s March.

Watched now, within that context, the documentary takes on a different tone than it might have just three years ago. It becomes a kind of organizer’s blueprint, showing viewers how disseminating information can radicalize would-be advocates, how speaking truth is power, how movements are complicated and messy and how fighting occurs. Its most important lesson, however, is that real change can be effected by real, organized anger. One of the biggest impressions made by the film is just how far we’ve come — and not by the slow, plodding movement of social progress, but by the hard work and effort of angry, radicalized, organized women. It’s a point of hope for women watching the documentary in the current political climate.

“There's a lot of really bad things going on politically,” says Dore. “But I also have great belief in organizing.”

It’s clear the women of the film do too. Watched today, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” is not only a lesson in history, but a rallying cry for current and future generations of women to carry the torch.

Dore’s advice on organizing moving forward? Remain invested in multiple issues and meet face to face — it makes for better and saner organizers. Most importantly: find a way to make your efforts sustainable.

“Figure out where your passion is, where you think you can be the most helpful and focus on that because you do have to keep sane.”

And angry.

You can catch the film next Wednesday, International Women’s Day, at 7 p.m. at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. Proceeds will benefit the Lilith Fund, an organization that provides abortion funding to low income women in Central Texas.